Watch: Vandals target Ballyclare church

The damage was reported on August 23.
The damage was reported on August 23.

Police are appealing for information following a report of criminal damage at a church in Ballyclare.

It is believed that sometime between Sunday, August 18 and Friday, August 23 damage was caused to a wall at the rear of Ballyclare Free Presbyterian Church.

Detailing the damage in a video on social media, a spokesperson for the Doagh Road church said: “The rear of our building is now one of the most recent hangout locations for a group of youths in Ballyclare.

“They have felt that they are totally justified in vandalising church property. Just the other night, they felt they would put a massive hole through the side of our store and then use some of the wood as firewood.

“They lit a fire, placing a gas canister in the middle of the fire. Anti-social behaviour has been ongoing for months, week in, week out.

“Young people are congregating here and are causing a general nuisance. It’s just not acceptable and something needs to be done.”

The Times understands members of Newtownabbey Street Pastors attended the scene and removed the gas canister from the blaze, avoiding serious injury.

Appealing for information, PSNI Sergeant Trevor Aitcheson said: “I would appeal to anyone who has any information that could assist us with our enquiries to contact Newtownabbey PSNI station on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference 2207 23/08/19.

“Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, which is 100 per cent anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime.”

The vandalism has been condemned by South Antrim Alliance MLA, John Blair.

Mr Blair said: “This is a dreadful example of continued anti-social behaviour in the area which I’ve raised with senior police and PCSP locally, encouraging a joined up approach.”

A number of attacks occurred at the church last year with windows being smashed in December 2018.