Place of worship attacked every two days

Holy Family Church in Derry, Northern Ireland, was set on fire in May (Crux/Google Maps)

A new report shows that an attack on a place of worship takes place nearly every other day in Northern Ireland. Source: Crux.

After filing a freedom of information request, the public advocacy charity CARE (Christian Action Research and Education) discovered 445 attacks took place resulting in criminal damage to religious buildings, churchyards, or cemeteries in Northern Ireland over the last three years.

“Our research shows that there are crimes being committed against places of worship nearly every other day in Northern Ireland. It’s not limited to one location and there are recorded examples in every policing district across the Province,” said Mark Baillie, CARE Northern Ireland’s Policy Officer.

“These are concerning figures and clearly action needs to be taken. In a free and democratic society, no one should be afraid of gathering together with those who share their faith in a place of worship,” he added.

The Catholic Church is the largest individual religious group in Northern Ireland, making up about 40 per cent of the population, although 45 per cent of the people belong to various Protestant groups.

The province has long seen tensions between Catholics and Protestants, and although the 1998 Good Friday Agreement ended most of the sectarian violence, sectarian tensions continue to simmer.

The churches attacked belong to different denominations, and the motivations for the attacks were not recorded in the CARE report, so it is not known how many could be attributed to sectarianism.

In May, the Holy Family Catholic church in Derry was set on fire, destroying an outbuilding and damaging the sanctuary and rectory.

“I can’t understand what goes on in a person’s mind that they want to cause damage to other people and how it can make them feel good. I feel more sorry for them. There is something badly wrong in their lives whenever they do this,” Fr Paddy O’Kane told the BBC following the attack.


A church is attacked every two days in Northern Ireland, charity reveals (Crux

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