Man arrested after striking priest during Mass with figure from crib


A man has been arrested in connection with an attack on a priest during morning Mass yesterday in Bangor, Co Down.

Father Henry McCann was struck on the back of the head by an attacker who took a figure from a crib in St Comgall's church in the town yesterday.

Shocked parishioners restrained the man who had entered the church carrying shopping bags and who then took one of the shepherd figures from the nativity scene and struck Father McCann. Some witnesses spoke of the man as raging about the Catholic church.

The priest was attended to by medical professionals who were in the congregation of about 100. Father McCann was later taken to the Ulster Hospital at Dundonald, outside Belfast.

He is suffering from shock and minor injuries.

Parish Priest, Father Jim Donaghy, said: "The man was screaming and shouting and was clearly having difficulties facing the church at the moment."

He added: "Everyone was deeply shocked. We feel sorry for the individual who should have to resort to such violence."

A police spokesman said there was nothing sectarian in the incident. One report suggested that the priest's attacker shouted abuse about paedophile priests and the alleged involvement of a Catholic priest in the IRA bombing of Claudy, Co Derry, in July 1972 in which nine people died.

Police said last week there was evidence that a priest in Co Derry was involved in the bombing but had been moved to a remote part of Co Donegal a short time afterwards. He was never arrested or questioned about the attack.