Attacks on religious freedom condemned

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THERE has been widespread condemnation of the pipe bomb attack at Church of The Sacred Heart in Ballyclare, and the bomb hoax at St Mary’s Star of the Sea Church in Whitehouse.

Public representatives from across the political spectrum have united in condemning both incidents, branding them “despicable” and “acts of madness”.

Here’s what some of them had to say:

William McCrea MP (DUP) - “The people of the area do not want this kind of activity or to be associated with it in any way. This clearly posed a danger not just to those using the Sacred Heart Church but to hundreds of children passing by. It is vital that those responsible are brought to justice and face the full weight of the law.”

Alderman Paul Girvan MLA (DUP) - “There were a lot of school kids in the area walking past, making their way to school, so this had the potential to have been an even more serious situation.

“I would sympathise with all the people who were inconvenienced by this attack and I would appeal to anyone with any information about who was responsible to report it to the PSNI so that these types of attacks can be stopped.”

Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (Sinn Fein) - “The discovery of pipe bombs in the grounds of the Catholic church in Ballyclare is very concerning.

“Whoever is responsible for leaving these in the grounds of the church, for whatever intent, have been wholly reckless and have endangered people’s lives.”

Councillor Pat McCudden (Alliance) - “There can be no justification for leaving a pipe bomb in such a populated area. This was an attack on the church and its congregation.

“The members of the congregation are a valuable part of the town, however the same cannot be said for those responsible for this pipe bomb. The people behind this are callous individuals who have no concern for the consequence of their actions.”

Councillor Billy Webb (Alliance), a parishioner at St Mary’s Church, - “I am appalled that a place of worship has been targeted. There is no justification behind it.

“To force a number of people out of their own homes is despicable. People’s lives are being disrupted by these security alerts which is completely unacceptable.”

Nelson McCausland MLA (DUP) - “The planting of this hoax device should be condemned by all right-thinking people and I condemn it unreservedly. One cannot fathom what those responsible would hope to achieve by such an act of madness. The resulting security alert caused anxiety for residents and parishioners, road closures and the moving of a church service, all of which were attacks on civic and religious freedoms.”