Friday 15 March 2013

Rev Fr Damian McCaughan, ChLJ

Fr Damian outside St Mary's on the Hill

Fr Damian McCaughan, a Chaplain of the Order of St Lazarus and a member of the Grand Priory of Great Britain was in the news last week when his Church was the target of sectarian violence. An explosive device described by police as "crude, but viable" was planted outside St Mary’s On The Hill Church in Glengormley, County Antrim, on Saturday March 2nd.
Police closed the Road and around 20 residents living nearby had to leave their homes while Army bomb experts examined the device for almost four hours. It was later removed for forensic examination.
 Father Damian told the Newtownabbey Times:
 “Police had received a call to say there was a device but the information provided was very vague and they were not even sure it was at our church, so we were concerned that something might be somewhere, but not found. It was found close to the main doors of the church and an area around the church had to be evacuated. That caused a lot of upset ,because some of our neighbours are elderly or disabled and there was a great deal of upheaval.”
 He went on: “It’s concerning that this would happen at a church, a place that is sacred and it’s surprising that someone would feel that way towards us. We’re aware that there have been other churches targeted in recent weeks and it is very concerning for us and people are anxious. For us, we have always been very community relations-focused and enjoy good relations with other churches and in the community and we would hope that good work would not be jeopardised by these actions.”
 Fr McCaughan added: “I must commend the police: they were excellent on Saturday night and they looked after us all very well. And we are very grateful to everyone who has offered their support and wished us well. That support is very comforting.”
This was the third time within the past five weeks that a suspect device has been left at a Catholic church in Newtownabbey.
At the beginning of February two pipe bomb type devices were found in the grounds of Sacred Heart Church, Ballyclare, and a hoax device was left at St Mary’s Star of the Sea Church in Whitehouse.
Newtownabbey Mayor, Alderman Victor Robinson added: “As I have said before, this is an attack on our community, our elected representatives and now our places of worship. “Anyone with relevant information, I would urge them to get in touch with the PSNI. No right-thinking person could support these attacks.”

Ulster Television also reported on the incident: