Appeal for calm after Kilkeel church attack
Tuesday, 15 July 2014
A SOUTH Down MLA has appealed for calm in Kilkeel after a church in the was town was attacked by vandals.
Police are not treating the criminal damage caused to the church in Greencastle Street, Kilkeel as a sectarian hate crime.
Fourteen Stations of the Cross, three statues, pews and stained glass windows were all damaged inside Our Lady of the Angels Oratory on Wednesday night.
Parish priest, Fr Michael Murray, whose car was also attacked, said parishioners were devastated by the attack.
“The wee oratory was very close to a lot of parishioners here so they're taking it badly," he said.
“When I walked in there in the morning, I was totally saddened and heartbroken. I stood in disbelief at what had happened to the oratory. I just couldn't take it in."
South Down SDLP MLA Seán Rogers, who chairs the Parish Finance Committee, spent most of the day following the attack with Fr Murray and other parishioners whom he described as "being in total shock".
Devastated by the unsightly scene that greeted them following the vicious attack on this local place of worship, the local SDLP representative added: "It is impossible to know what thoughts or motivations were in the minds of those responsible for this outrageous attack. It is clear however that they are very misguided individuals who ironically may benefit from the prayers of the parishioners they set out to hurt.
“As a member of this community I, like many others, am shocked and saddened by this attack but realise we are directing our words of condemnation towards individuals, who are for some unknown reason, not thinking clearly." Recognising that the incident has angered many locals the SDLP representative added, "I would ask people to remain calm. We as a community need to make it clear that this disgraceful and shameful behaviour is isolated and has no place in society."
A male who was arrested in connection with criminal damage to the church has been released on police bail pending further enquiries.
Superintendent Simon Walls, E District Service Delivery, said: "Any attack on a place of worship must be condemned and we are now investigating to find those responsible.
“If you noticed any activity in this area or have any information which may be connected, please contact police in Kilkeel on the 101 non-emergency number."
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