‘We must stand up for civil and religious tolerance’

White paint was splashed across a doorway at St Mary's Star of the Sea Church during the weekend attack.
White paint was splashed across a doorway at St Mary's Star of the Sea Church during the weekend attack.

A petrol bomb and paint bomb attack on a local Catholic church at the weekend has been condemned as “utterly appalling and inexcusable”.

Scorch damage to a side door was discovered at St Mary’s Star of the Sea Church in Whitehouse on Sunday morning (September 15). There was also while paint splashed across the doorway and brickwork of the historic building.

This was the latest in a series of incidents at the Shore Road church, which was also targeted by bomb hoaxers on a number of occasions earlier this year.

The latest incident has been condemned by local political representatives, including Macedon councillor Billy Webb, who is a parishioner of the church.

“I am saddened and disgusted that anyone can justify attacking a place of worship. There have been numerous attacks on this church in the past eight months but this latest one is the most serious.

“This attack and previous incidents have been condemned by the vast majority of people. Those who carried out this attack have no support in the community,” the Alliance man said.

His party colleague, Alderman John Blair added: “This latest attack is a worrying development in the wake of calls for protests at the Cemetery Sunday service at Carnmoney Cemetery.

“Whilst I, like others, am relieved that a series of discussions managed to avoid the ugly, sectarian scenes witnessed in the past, the events of this past weekend show the absolute need for responsible actions at all times.

“I would also like to pay tribute to the local PSNI for their efforts in ensuring that parishioners could enjoy their Sunday worship despite the need for follow-up forensic work.

“I would urge anybody with any information about this attack to assist the police in their efforts to catch those who seek to blight good community relations with random acts of hatred.”

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds said that those responsible for the ongoing attacks against the church must be caught and brought before the courts.

“It is utterly appalling and inexcusable that any place of worship should be targeted for attack. There have been previous attacks against this Catholic church within the past year. Whoever is carrying out these disgraceful attacks must be caught and brought to justice,” the DUP man said.

“Sectarian attacks against churches, Orange halls or other venues are hate crimes which must be stopped.

“As a society we must continue to stand for civil and religious freedom and tolerance. The entire community must unite against those who carry out sectarian attacks.

“I appeal to anyone having any knowledge which would assist the police investigation into this and other attacks to pass that information on without delay.”

Detectives investigating the incident have appealed for anyone with information to contact them at Newtownabbey Station on 0845 600 8000 or to call Crimestoppers.