Police investigate fire at Whiteabbey church

Whiteabbey Methodist church was attacked on Saturday.
Whiteabbey Methodist church was attacked on Saturday.

Police are investigating a suspected arson attack on a Methodist Church in Newtownabbey which caused substantial smoke damage.

Shortly after 11pm on Saturday a fire was reported in the kitchen at the rear of the Shore Road church. Police and the fire service attended and the fire was extinguished but extensive damage was caused to the kitchen as a result.

The PSNI said the cause of the fire has yet to be established and appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

Alliance councillor Billy Webb said the suspected arsonists went in through the front door of the church, spilt cleaning chemicals on the floor and lit the fire in the kitchen broom cupboard.

“There have been a number of arson attacks on the Whiteabbey area recently including a car burnt out,” he said.

“I would suggest the same people were behind those attacks. But an attack on a church like this is totally out of character with what has gone before.”

The person who lost their car has no idea why he was targeted, Mr Webb said.

The Rev Pauline Lorimer said she was disheartened by the incident.

“I don’t see how anybody can get any kind of kick out of destroying something that’s good,” she told the BBC.