Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire, has told of his sadness after a Presbyterian church and hall on the Saintfield Road in Belfast has sustained considerable damage in a second arson attack this week.
Police are investigating the attack which happened sometime between 1am and 1.20am, today, Sunday, 24 July.
Mr Brokenshire said: “I am shocked and saddened to hear of the disgraceful attack on Saintfield Road Presbyterian Church and hall.
“My thoughts are with its parishioners who will be devastated by this news.”
This morning, a post on the Saintfield Road Presbyterian Church Facebook page advised church-goers to stay away from their premises.
Yesterday a post on their Facebook page said: “On Thursday night an arson attack included some flooding to the toilets in the halls, and a substantial fire in the kitchen beside the McAdam hall.”
And this morning a second post said: “Due to a second arson attack of greater severity taking place in the early hours of Sunday morning, the entire church building and halls are strictly out of bounds.
“Please stay away from the church as investigations are still underway.
“Worship on Sunday morning WILL NOT go ahead at Saintfield Road, however, worship services are happening in the other local churches.
At this stage it is unlikely that Newtownbreda CSSM will be happening at Saintfield Road. Details on this will be communicated at a later stage.”
Inspector Jonathan Francey would appeal to anyone who may have noticed any suspicious activity around the church or anyone who has information about this incident to contact Police at Castlereagh on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference number 121 24/07/16. Alternatively, 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.