Arson attempt is latest in series of incidents

The Minister of a local church attacked by arsonists at the weekend said she doesn't know why the Gilford premises was targeted.

Tuesday, 3rd October 2017, 1:15 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th October 2017, 3:17 pm
The bin which was damaged during the arson attack at St Pauls Church Hall, Gilford.

St Paul’s Church Hall had a narrow escape after a bin was pushed against the door and set on fire on Saturday evening. It was the second incident in as many weeks.

Thankfully the fire didn’t catch to the door and the damage was only discovered on Sunday when the Reverend Denise Caddoo arrived for worship.

Rev Caddoo told the Leader that everyone associated with the church was thankful more damage wasn’t caused.

She said: “It must have gone out. We didn’t discover it until we arrived for worship on Sunday morning. The sexton had been up and had been collected leaves and put them in the brown bin and everything was fine so it must have happened after that.

“Obviously they had put whatever into the bin and set it on fire and put it up against the door to try and burn the door for whatever reason. Thankfully it didn’t take, but it’s the second week in a row that something has happened.

“The week before, at the same sort of time, we discovered there had been a broken slate thrown at the stained glass windows but thankfully they are protected.

“In the summer time we had an incident where somebody had been on the roof of the church hole, there was broken slates and left a gaping big hole in the roof. It seems to be focused on the church hall.

“We don’t know who is doing it and we are thankful there wasn’t more damage and hopefully it won’t happen again.”

Police are investigating and said they are keen to speak to a group of youths aged between 10 and 14 who were spotted in the area around the time.

Ulster Unionist Councillor Glenn Barr condemned the arson attack, he said: “The bin was wheeled up against the hall door and set alight. Thankfully the fire in the bin extinguished itself quickly and nothing else was damaged.

“This is the third time the premises have been targeted since August and I would ask that anyone who has information or seen anything which maybe suspicious between 5pm Saturday evening until 10 this morning to please pass this onto the PSNI in 101.”

Police have asked for anyone with information to contact police on 101 quoting reference 644 of 01/10/17.