Sectarian attack on Newtownabbey community centre

Vicky Moore (left), Dunanney Centre manager, with Pat Hutchinson, CAB district manager
Vicky Moore (left), Dunanney Centre manager, with Pat Hutchinson, CAB district manager

A building housing various vital community facilities in Newtownabbey has been vandalised for the fourth time in as many months.

The latest attack on the Dunanney Centre in Rathcoole – involving sectarian graffiti on the front wall – was reported to police yesterday morning.

MP for the area Nigel Dodds said it “beggars belief” why anyone would want to target the centre.

“This was the fourth attack on the centre since April, including arson attacks which have caused in excess of £150,000 worth of damage.

“I am sure that I speak on behalf of the entire local community when I express disgust and outrage that these attacks are occurring.

“Rathcoole Churches Community Group, which owns the building, has provided essential services for the community for over 20 years. The Dunanney Centre houses services for people of all ages – a Citizens Advice Bureau which has been rated as the best CAB in the UK, a Surestart project and a training programme for the unemployed,” he said.

The DUP MP added: “This centre is a community enterprise and depends on rental income in order to be sustainable.

“Whoever is carrying out these attacks is jeopardising vital services which are open to all and which assist people whose needs are greatest. Those responsible are damaging the interests of this community and must be brought to justice.”

In the latest attack the words ‘Taigs out’ were written on one exterior wall and ‘we support Israel’ on another.

The building was extensively damaged in an arson attack last month and centre manager Vicky Moore has said that the ongoing attacks – on such a vital facility – cannot be allowed to continue.

Citizens Advice Bureau district manager Pat Hutchinson has described the latest incident as “very intimidating and frightening” and warned that the centre can’t sustain any further attacks.

Both women have appealed for them to end.

Newtownabbey mayor Thomas Hogg said the council “fully supports” the work at the centre and added: “The council condemns the recent attacks on such a valued asset to the community and asks that they come to an end.”

Alliance councillor Billy Webb has also condemned those responsible.

“I am absolutely horrified at yet another attack on the Dunanney Centre. This is a direct attack on the whole community and those behind it must be brought to justice.

“The Dunanney Centre is a vital resource for everyone living in the Rathcoole area and they are fed up with being held to ransom by the faceless few who decide to strike out against them.”

A PSNI spokesman said: “Police are treating this as a hate crime and would appeal to anyone who witnessed the incident or anyone who saw any suspicious activity in the area overnight to contact them at Newtownabbey Police Station on the non-emergency number 101. Or if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.”