Catholic church vandalised in Belfast


A Catholic church in Belfast was smeared with excrement and daubed with racist graffiti, it emerged today.

Sectarian slogans were also scrawled over the walls of St Colmcille's in the east of the city. The desecration was discovered by a woman who opened the church in preparation for a service last night. Parish priest Fr Patrick Delargy said: "She noticed excrement, the most offensive in the tabernacle area, the most sacred part of the church." With worshippers already in the building, which was hosting a special mission involving Redemptorist priests from the Clonard monastery in west Belfast, further damage was found, including defaced posters. Some of the vandalism was directed at Catholic youngsters, but most of the hatred focused on foreign nationals who had come to the area in search of work. Unable to utter the words used, Fr Delargy confirmed: "It was about killing people of other nations, as serious as that. "A large part of our congregation would be immigrants working in local care homes and hospitals. "They contribute so much to the parish, but obviously people see them coming to church and take exception." Windows on the church, located on the mainly Protestant Upper Newtownards Road, have been broken in the past. But the priest insisted relationships with the wider community have been good until the latest outbreak. Representatives from the neighbouring Presbyterian churches were swift to offer solidarity, he stressed. "This is very, very unpleasant," Fr Delargy said. "What happened in the past was sectarian, but this looks more racist." CCTV footage of people entering the church yesterday has been given to the PSNI in a bid to identify the vandals responsible.