Anger at ‘new low’ thefts from Derry churches

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Thefts from two Derry churches have sparked anger in the city.

Both St Patrick’s Church at Pennyburn and St. Brigid’s Church in Carnhill were targeted by thieves in acts that have been branded “disgraceful”. Money was stolen from a candle shrine at St. Patrick’s on Monday while cash was also taken from charity boxes after a prayer room was broken into at St. Brigid’s last week. On Sunday afternoon a car parked in the car park of St. Brigid’s was targeted by thieves who threw a rock through the rear window of the vehicle and stole a purse.

Speaking to the ‘Journal’, Fr Michael McCaughey, PP St Patrick’s, condemned the break-ins. He said the thieves had violated church property and created a fear which might deter people from visiting the churches.

He said those who broke into Pennyburn church on Monday afternoon had come into the church “under the pretence of coming to pray and had then closed the church doors, leading people to believe the chapel was closed”.

As a result of the two break-ins at St Brigid’s Church, Carnhill last Thursday and Friday, an upstairs oratory has had to be temporarily closed.

Fr McCaughey said that worse than the damage caused and the items stolen was the “violation of sacred space”.

SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan said the thefts marked “a new low”. “That this could happen in a sacred place is shocking but the fact that the money stolen was for the poor makes this all the more reprehensible.”

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan added: “The thefts at these two chapels are nothing short of disgraceful. On hearing news of these incidents the local communities are understandably angry and frustrated.”