Wheelie bins used in latest arson attack
Basil McCrea MLA and
Rev. John Rutter of St. Aiden's Church
of Ireland, Glenavy survey the damage
following the fourth arson attack on the
Church in four months.
A GLENAVY church has been vandalised for the
fourth time in four months in an arson attack last weekend.
Three wheelie bins were taken from various
parts of the church grounds and set alight beside the gates
around 1.30pm, causing minor scorch damage.
The rector, the Rev John Rutter, explained:
"A neighbour spotted the fire and called the Fire Brigade, who
came and put it out. It left a sticky mess outside the entrance
but thankfully it was spotted and wasn't any worse."
He continued: "This is the fourth time in as
many months this has happened. I think it is vandalism rather
than pointed attacks on any particular church. I have been in
touch with the police, they had promised to be more active in
the area and I am hoping for more direct action on anti-social
Rev. Rutter added, "We have the Glenavy Youth
Project which is quite a vanguard of cross-community action, but
some older members of the community may say we are rewarding
youths for being bad.
"I would encourage families to use this as a
reminder to know where their children are and if they are older
children to check who they are with and give them times to be
back, as some can get into bad company."
Rev. Rutter added, "Inevitably parishoners are
angry that this goes on and on, particularly the older members
who have seen enormous change in the village. There is anger at
the disrespect for Church property, and by implication, those
who go there. There is a clash between the city and the country
and this only adds to the general attitude of suspicion of
The Rev Rutter added he was hopeful those
responsible will be caught.
Inspector Stephen Burns from Lisburn PSNI,
said local neighbourhood officers are following a positive line
"We are working with the Community Outreach
Worker and Rev. John Rutter to deal with any problems they are
having there" he said.
Sinn Fein MLA Paul Butler strongly condemned
the incident as "a despicable attack on a place of worship."
Mr Butler said: "I would like to extend my
sympathies and solidarity to Rev. John Rutter and the
congregation at St Aidan's, a congregation which has generously
and admirably led the way in providing much-needed premises for
the youth of the village, regardless of creed."
"I would call on anyone with information
relating to this attack - or any previous incidents - to bring
those details to the PSNI to ensure the culprits are
Ulster Unionist MLA Basil McCrea, who visited
the scene to speak to the Rev Rutter, said: "The church is
trying very hard to reach out to the wider community and the
PSNI really needs to take a proactive approach. The congregation
needs to be protected from these sort of attacks."