12 March 2006

Churches unite after race attack


Seats in the church were daubed with excrement

Members of Protestant churches have attended Mass at a Catholic church in east Belfast which was vandalised in a suspected racist attack last week.

Racist slogans were daubed on the walls of St Colmcille's Church on the Upper Newtownards Road and excrement was smeared on seats.

On Sunday, representatives of local Presbyterian, Methodist and Church of Ireland congregations attended Mass.

A Presbyterian minister said it was a show of opposition to hate crimes.

Reverend Richard Hill from Garnerville Presbyterian Church said racism was a "very grave problem".

He said the churches wanted to "show our solidarity with our friends and neighbours" in St Colmcilles "to say that racism is not acceptable".

It's wrong, it's got to stop," he said.

Parish mission

"We're meeting together as a group of churches in the area during Lent, to look at hate crimes, to look at how we, as a church, can respond."

The attack was reported to police at about 2000 GMT on Thursday.

The parish priest, Father Paddy Delargy, said the attack was racially motivated.

He said a small section of society seemed unable to accept those from other countries.

The church, which has Indian and Filipino members, is currently hosting a parish mission.

The attack was condemned by local politicians.

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