Vandals who wrote sectarian graffiti on a Presbyterian church in Derry have been branded a disgrace.
The graffiti which was painted across a wall and on the doors of Ballyarnett Presbyterian Church overnight on Saturday and Sunday, has now been removed.
Reverend Alastair Rosborough said some of the words were so bad they could not be repeated.
“They basically say to us that we are not welcome here,” he said. “This is supposed to be the year when this city is the UK City of Culture and we’re being told, you’re not welcome here.”
Derry’s MP Mark Durkan condemned those responsible.
“This is not just defacing the church but besmirching the name of the community.
“We must unite in expressing our disgust at, and rejection of, this attack and everything it represents.
“This type of attack highlights just how primitive and pernicious sectarianism is.
“We need a determined, united community and political stand to eradicate sectarianism in all its forms not only here in Derry but throughout the North.”
Sinn Fein councillor Tony Hassan said those responsible “have only brought disgrace upon the local community.”
“The people who wrote sectarian and other graffiti on the walls of the Ballyarnett Church are vandals who don’t represent the local community and certainly not republicans.
“I would call on anyone who was involved in this sectarian action to realise that the founder members of the Republican movement ‘The United Irishmen’ were mainly Presbyterian although I don’t expect these people would know Republican history or ideology,” he said.
“Despite the words ‘You are not welcome’ being daubed on the walls I can reassure Reverend Rosborough that he and his church are very much welcome in this area.
“There has been a Presbyterian community in the Ballyarnett area for many years and I hope for many years in the future.
“The local community are outraged at this act of vandalism and I would call on people to stop these actions especially against a place of worship.”
Police have asked anyone who may have noticed anyone acting suspiciously in the area or anyone who has any information to contact them at Strand Road on 0845 600 8000.
Or, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to it anonymously on 0800 555 111.