Vandals who smashed their way into a church before throwing Bibles around and attacking a war memorial with fire extinguishers were probably looking for money, a Church of Ireland minister believes.
St Patrick’s Church on the Newtownards Road, east Belfast, was broken into over the weekend and damaged in what the rector, Rev John Cunningham, described as an act of “wanton” vandalism.
“There has been a church stood there for 200 years with no real bother, other than the Luftwaffe bombing in 1942,” Rev Cunningham said.
“That was until some time between Friday night at 9pm and Sunday morning at 10.30am, when some people came into the church through a broken window.
“They ripped the guard off the outside, broke the window and climbed into the hall.
“They stole some charity money that the bowlers, the bowling club, had collected.
“This was probably around £20-25, so they just ransacked the whole place when they couldn’t get any other money.
“They put their feet through windows, smashed up a few doors, scattered Bibles about the place.
“They soaked hymn books with fire extinguishers.
“There’s a memorial to the fallen of the area from the First World War and they attacked it with the fire extinguishers. It had been there since 1921.”
He added: “It was just wanton destruction. I imagine they were looking for money, but anyone would know there would be no money in a church.”
A PSNI spokesperson said police are investigating the burglary at the church.