Councillors agree to send letter of sympathy following 'vile' attack on Christ Church

Derry City and Strabane District Council's Environment and Regeneration Committee has agreed to send a letter to the Church of Ireland Diocese of Derry and Raphoe expressing sympathy to the congregation of Christ Church following the discovery on Tuesday that the local place of worship had been subjected to an appalling act of desecration by vandals.

Chair of the committee, Angela Dobbins, raised the matter during her chairperson's business at a meeting of the committee in Wednesday and expressed her "utter disgust at this attack on a house of God", during which considerable damage was caused.

Colr. Dobbins proposed that council officers should be mandated to write to the Church of Ireland Diocese of Derry and Raphoe in wake of the vandalism in order to offer the council's condolences and support.

The gesture was unanimously approved.

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Sinn Féin councillor, Colly Kelly, condemned what he described as a "mindless attack by mindless people" and said such behaviour was "simply unacceptable" within our communities.

SDLP councillor, Brian Tierney, expressed his party's solidarity with the local congregation remarking that "as someone who grew up not too far away from Christ Church it's the first time I've ever heard of it being attacked".

Independent unionist councillor, Maurice Devenney, condemned the vandalism and applauded the united cross-community front that had quickly formed on Wednesday following the incident.

This was echoed by Colr. David Ramsey of the DUP, who said he was aware Christ Church was determined that services would go ahead as normal on Sunday despite the damaging setback.

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Independent republican councillor, Gary Donnelly, said he visited the church at 9.00 a.m. this morning and was informed of some of the details of the desecration by the Ven. Robert Miller, Archdeacon of Derry, who is Rector of Christ Church.

Colr. Donnelly said that what the vandals had done was "vile" but added that he had "no doubt those responsible will be caught".

"They've taken items of absolutely no monetary value to them, but which are of immense personal value to the congregation," added Colr. Donnelly.

He called for the return of these items and suggested local people might also consider attending Sunday worship at Christ Church this weekend in order to show their solidarity.

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UUP councillor, Derek Hussey, expressed bewilderment over the mindsets of those behind what he described as an act of "despicable desecration" but said it was uplifting to see, not only the congregation but the local community, "pulling together" after the attack.