08 September 2005

Green paint thrown at church hall


A sectarian motive is not being ruled out for a paint attack on a Protestant church hall in Ballymena, police say.

A coffee jar filled with green paint was thrown at Leymore Mission Hall at Ballymoney Road in Ballymena.

The damage was discovered at about 0800 BST on Thursday.

The attack is the latest in a series of incidents on Catholic and Protestant homes and buildings in the Ballymena area in recent months.

Thirty police officers have been involved in a fresh security operation intended to prevent sectarian attacks.

Operation Striker covered 50 Catholic-owned properties, churches, schools and GAA sports grounds last week.

Vehicle checkpoints were set up in Ballymena, Ahoghill and Portglenone while mobile patrols covered other locations.

The leaders of the four main churches in Northern Ireland have issued a statement describing the present level of violence on the streets as "totally unacceptable".

In their statement issued on Wednesday, Catholic Archbishop Sean Brady, Church of Ireland Primate Archbishop Robin Eames, Presbyterian Church leader the Reverend Harry Uprichard and Methodist leader the Reverend Desmond Bain said they condemned "any words or actions which caused danger to anyone because of their religious or political identity".

"Attacks from any source on churches, schools, halls, homes, the elderly and the young cannot be justified, excused or accepted," the church leaders said.

"Apart from their criminality such actions are immoral."

Police said between 1 March and 31 August, there were 42 recorded incidents, 28 against Catholics and 14 against Protestants.

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