Arson attack on Derry Catholic church blasted as 'terrible act of vandalism and desecration'
The DUP has blasted as a "terrible act of vandalism and desecration" an arson attack on a Derry Catholic church.
An outbuilding beside Holy Family Church in the Aileach Road area of Ballymagroarty was set alight at around 10.30pm on Friday.
Those attending an event in the nearby parochial house had to be taken to safety as around 20 firefighters battled the blaze.
The Fire Service said CCTV showed a group of youths starting the fire in a shed which had put lives in danger.
DUP Foyle MLA Gary Middleton offered his sympathies to the community saying he felt sorry for them.
"A terrible act of vandalism and desecration," he tweeted.
Surveying the damage, Holy Family Parish priest Father Paddy O’Kane says he will be praying at weekend Masses for those who set part of his church ablaze. Outbuildings were destroyed, windows in parochial house blown in and Church roof damaged in arson attack last night #Derry pic.twitter.com/W53fyir9Yu— Leona O'Neill (@LeonaONeill1) May 25, 2019
"My thoughts are with the parish Priest, parishioners of Holy Family Church and the local community."
Parish priest Father Paddy O'Kane said he would pray for those behind the attack.
"I just never can understand why people do vandalism or arson or whatever is on their minds," he told journalist Leona O'Neill.
"All I can say is we will be praying for them at all Masses this weekend."
The aftermath of last night’s arson attack on Holy Family Church in #Derry. Outbuildings were destroyed, windows in the parochial house were blown in by the ferocity of the flames and part of the church roof was damaged pic.twitter.com/TBA9GMKAfR— Leona O'Neill (@LeonaONeill1) May 25, 2019
UUP MLA Steve Aiken added: "This is a despicable act - how can attacking any place of worship, anywhere, be justifiable - this is thuggery of the worst kind."
Detective Constable Fielding added: "An outbuilding adjacent to Holy Family on Aileach Road was set alight at around 10.30pm. The blaze spread to the church and nearby parochial house causing damage to both. The outbuilding was completely destroyed.
"At this stage we believe two males may have been involved in starting this fire and we are keen to identify them. We would like to hear from anyone who was in the area at around the time of the fire or anyone who may have information regarding this crime. The number to call is 101, please quote reference 2311 24/05/19."