Police have labelled sectarian graffiti found on a Catholic church in Northern Ireland as a hate crime. They are investigating accordingly.
The graffiti was found St Mary’s Catholic Church in Limavady yesterday morning. It was believed to have been painted overnight.
The walls of the church and a crucifix in the grounds were defaced with the names of Ulster unionist paramilitary groups – UVF, UDA and UFF.
The tags refer to the Ulster Volunteer Force, the Ulster Defence Association and the Ulster Freedom Fighters – loyalist groups active during the Troubles. KAT daubed on a crucifix in St Mary’s church may refer to the unionist slogan “Kill All Taigs” – all Catholics. The origin of the word is unclear but may be a derivation of Tadgh, a common first name for Catholic boys.
Monsignor Bryan McCanny described the incident as “disappointing” noting a “certain amount of distress that it should happen to a church building”.
Speaking to the BBC, he said: “we know it’s not representative of any of the other church communities in Limavady.”
Northern Ireland’s First Minister and head of the DUP Arlene Foster condemned the “reprehensible attack”.
“No cause is served by such actions and I hope those responsible can be identified and brought to justice,” she said.
Sinn Fein councillor Brenda Chivers called the incident a “shameful attack”. “There is no place for such mindless sectarian vandalism,” she said.
DUP MP Gregory Campbell called on the government to take action to “de-escalate” rising tensions.
“While there is no apparent localised reason or recent precedent for this incident, I fear it may be linked to wider political tensions that police had alluded to last week,” he said.
Northern Ireland’s police force (PSNI) are also looking into graffiti in Belfast’s Drumart Square. The graffiti, found on Saturday morning, threatened to hang the Republic of Ireland’s former Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar should he cross the border. The PSNI are investigating the incident as a hate crime.