The overnight desecration of a Catholic church in Limavady has been branded "sheer sectarian thuggery" by a local councillor for the town.
SDLP councillor, John Deighan, said people have been disgusted by the attack on St. Mary's Catholic Church on Irish Green Street, during which loyalist slogans were daubed on the walls and doors and a crucifix damaged.
"One of the parishioners arrived this morning and discovered UFF and UDA slogans painted on the walls and the statue of Jesus had also been defaced," said Colr. Deighan.
"This is just sheer sectarian thuggery. These people aren't loyalists, they probably had to be told how to spell the slogans," added the SDLP representative.
Colr. Deighan thanked the PSNI for their swift response and help in cleaning up after the attack.
Police in Limavady have appealed for information following the report of criminal damage.
Constable Gillan said: “Graffiti daubed on the doors of the church and damage to a crucifix were reported to us at 8.35 a.m. this morning.
"The incident is being treated as a sectarian hate crime, and I would appeal to anyone who has any information about the incident, or who saw any suspicious activity in the area to contact officers in Limavady on 101 quoting reference number 275 of 31/07/18.
"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."
Colr. Deighan said the targeting of church property was particularly vile.
"It's a sacred place. I think that there has to be a bit of common sense here.
"The people who did this have no respect and if you have no respect it defeats the purpose of life doesn't it?
"The community as a whole are disgusted by this. It's not acceptable behaviour and it needs to stop."