Arson attack on C of I church in NI branded ‘reprehensible’

The fire happened at St Saviour’s Church in the early hours of Wednesday morning

St Saviour’s Church in Craigavon was damaged during the attack in the early hours of yesterday morning.

The PSNI has appealed for information after the church, sited at Drumgor West Road, was attacked shortly after 4am.

Sergeant Carolan said: “At around 4:20am, police were tasked to a fire at a church in the area. Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service were already in attendance and dealt with the fire.

“It is believed that slates were removed from the roof of the premises with something dropped through and set alight. Damage was caused to the inside of the property following the incident, with no one reported inside the premises.

“Enquiries are continuing and at this stage, the fire is being treated as deliberate

“We would appeal to anyone who witnessed anything suspicious in the area to contact police on 101, quoting reference number 222 22/07/20. You can submit a report online using the non-emergency reporting form via http://www.psni.police.uk/makeareport/ or you can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at http://crimestoppers-uk.org/ .”

DUP MP Carla Lockhart described attack as “reprehensible”, and called for anyone with information to contact the PSNI.

Mrs Lockhart said: “I am shocked to learn of this attack on a local place of worship. Attacking a church that does so much positive work in the local community truly is reprehensible.

“Those who engage in such mindless behaviour contribute nothing to our society but hurt and harm.

“I urge the community to work alongside the PSNI to being the perpetrators to justice. I have visited the church and spoken with parishioners.

“They are determined not to let this deter their Christian witness in the local area.”

Police said tiles were removed from the roof before something was dropped into the church

Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Cllr Margaret Tinsley added: “This is a shocking incident, and my thoughts are with the Rector, Myrtle Morrison, and the congregation at St Saviour’s.

“A church is a place of sanctuary and hope for many, and I know this attack will cause much upset to many in the local community.”

Upper Bann MLA, Doug Beattie MC, condemned those behind an arson attack.

Mr Beattie said: “It is scarcely credible that anyone would set out to remove roof slates and then attempt to set fire to a place of worship, but that is exactly what has happened in Craigavon this morning.

“There is no excuse whatsoever for this kind of behaviour and regardless of whether the motivation is sectarianism or vandalism, the person or persons responsible needs to be caught and made amenable for their crime. This church is part of the central Craigavon community, my extended family have been married there, been baptised and used the youth club. To lose it through vandalism would be a blow to a community that already feels isolated within the borough.

“I urge anyone who was in the vicinity of St Saviour’s Church of Ireland on the Drumgor West Road in Craigavon around 04:20 this morning, or who knows anything about this incident, to contact the police immediately,” said the Ulster Unionist MLA.

Alliance Councillor Eóin Tennyson described the attack as an ‘act of hate’.

Councillor Tennyson said: “This was a shocking and disgusting attack on a place of worship. It was an act of hate. Everyone should be free to attend their place of worship without fear of intimidation.

“Whoever damaged St. Saviour’s must be condemned in the strongest possible terms and I would urge anyone with information to pass it to the police as soon as possible.”

SDLP Upper Bann MLA, Dolores Kelly said: “This is an utterly disgraceful incident. Significant damage has been caused to this property and it is lucky that nobody was injured as a result. Causing criminal damage to a church that does such positive work in the community is appalling and I condemn it completely.

“Those behind such reckless acts have no support and they must have more regard for their community.”

SDLP Craigavon Councillor Thomas Larkham added: “This is not just an attack on a building, but the people who comprise the church. They are strong and as they have done before; they will stand strong. They know they have widespread support of the local community, who are completely disgusted at this latest attack.”

Courtesy The Lurgan Mail
Report by By Carmel Robinson
22 July 2020