By Madeline O’Connor
Sectarian and racist graffiti daubed on the walls of St Patrick’s church, Dungannon, Co Tyrone hours before a wedding was due to take place there has been called ‘disgusting’.
The graffiti included a swastika, UVF slogans and the words ‘F*** Gaza’ and police are treating the attack as a hate crime.
Parish priest Monsignor Colum Dean Curry said it was the first time he could remember the church being targeted. He said the slogans were hurriedly washed off by a parishioner before the wedding yesterday.
Sinn Fein MP for the area Michelle Gildernew told the Belfast Telegraph that the wedding party was shocked by the attack.
“Parishioners are disgusted by this,” she said. “There was a wedding this morning and I spoke to the groom and guests and they couldn’t believe it.
“I hope those responsible are punished because this has to stop. These kind of attacks tend to lead on to others and could end in someone being seriously injured or killed.”
The graffiti was scrawled at some time between Tuesday evening and yesterday morning.
DUP councillor Kim Ashton said: “I believe the graffiti has now been removed and I am awaiting news from the PSNI about the investigation. This type of action is completely wrong and not welcome and whoever is responsible should go and apologise to the church.”
SDLP councillor Denise Mullen said whoever was responsible for the act should be ashamed: “To carry out a thuggish act like this on a place of worship is cowardly and, really, it is an attack on the community.
Police said their inquiries were continuing. Anyone with information should contact police on the 101 non-emergency number or Crimestoppers.