Minister offers to meet those who desecrated his church

Rev David Henry
Rev David Henry

A minister at a Co Armagh church where Remembrance Day Crosses were destroyed has offered to meet the criminals involved.

The crosses appeared to have been trampled into the ground at First Lurgan Presbyterian Church in what police are treating as a hate crime.

Debris after the vandalism at First Presbyterian Church Lurgan

Debris after the vandalism at First Presbyterian Church Lurgan

Rev David Henry said that it seemed a piece of kerbing was used to to smash a window in the front door.

However despite the outry and disgust at the crime, Rev Henry said he is keen to speak to those who carried out the attack.

“I am happy to meet with them and talk to them. At the end of the day, you don’t resolve anything without talking.

“If the same person goes away and if they have an issue or a problem with the church or some other issue, then it is never resolved.

The window of First Presbyterian Church Lurgan

The window of First Presbyterian Church Lurgan

“I want to meet with them and resolve the issue. Other people will want to judge and issue criminal proceedings but I think it’s sad that a wanton act of criminal damage is done and certainly it has desecrated those who put crosses there in November for their friends and family.

“I feel sad about that. They have their own memories and for someone to desecrate that is not very good.”

Rev Henry said the church is open to everyone especially at this time of year.

Chief Inspector Jon Burrows said: “A report was received that a brick had been thrown at the front door of the church, breaking a pane of glass, and that damage had been caused to a number of wooden Remembrance Day crosses, sometime between midday on Tuesday and 1pm on Wednesday afternoon. We are treating this as a hate crime and an investigation is underway.

“I would appeal to anyone with any information or any drivers who were passing First Lurgan Presbyterian Church and who may have captured footage on dashcam that may be of assistance to our investigation, to contact officers in Lurgan on 101 quoting reference number 687 12/12/18. Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime.”

DUP Upper Bann MLA Carla Lockhart has condemned an attack and said: “Causing criminal damage to any premises is wrong and a gutless crime. To do it to a place of worship where people go as a place of sanctuary, worship and reflection is beyond contempt.

“Along with any right thinking person I condemn this attack. I have a very good relationship with the churches in the area and will be working with the police and the church officers to ensure we send the right message out. This type of behaviour is wrong, is disrespectful and no one should engage in it or attempt some sort of tit for tat retaliation. It serves no purpose.”

Sinn Fein MLA John O’Dowd said: “I condemn the attack on the Presbyterian church in Lurgan, which resulted in the breaking of a pane of glass, and damage to a number of wooden Remembrance Day crosses. Anyone with information on who is responsible should contact the PSNI.”

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly said it was a “disgusting attack” and said it would have “greatly upset the congregation who I’m sure see this as an attack on them and their faith”.