Priest vows to fight vandalism

Neans McSweeney

But Fr Gerry McNamara is no longer willing to turn the other cheek and tolerate the repeated acts of vandalism to the presbytery which is also his home.

Fr McNamara has followed a group of men he found acting suspiciously on one occasion and has now installed closed circuit TV cameras in a bid to stop the attacks.

On six occasions in the past year, the parish priest has woken to the sound of breaking glass and the alarm going off at St John’s Presbytery on New Street. He believes the same group of young men are responsible for the vandalism, most of which takes place between 3.30am and 4am on Thursdays.

“I am beginning to dread the early hours of Wednesday or Thursday mornings and being woken up by the banging on the windows until the glass breaks or the alarm goes off,” Fr McNamara said.

The building is listed and he fears he will have to make an application to the local authority to replace the windows with more durable glass.

“Each pane of glass costs more than 30 to replace and, in the most recent attack during the past week, six panes were shattered,” he said.

Fr McNamara said on one occasion, he followed three young men acting suspiciously outside the presbytery. “I watched them go into their homes in respectable areas of the city,” he said.

He said that until he can actually witness the damage being caused, there is nothing he can do. He had hoped he might be able to reason with the perpetrators but now he is determined that they will be brought before the courts if they are caught.

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