Arson charge after fire at historic church

A MAN with a “severe psychiatric issue” was remanded in custody yesterday after being charged with arson in connection with a fire at a historic church in Dublin.

Smoke and water damage were caused to the 19th-century St Catherine’s Catholic Church at Meath St in the Liberties after a fire broke out Monday evening.

Firefighters took two hours to bring the blaze under control.

A 48-year-old man was arrested on Monday and held under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.

Patrick Currie, of no fixed abode, appeared at Dublin District Court yesterday charged with arson.

Holding an unlit cigarette, the defendant remained silent during the brief proceedings.

Garda Brian Hawkins told Judge Timothy Lucey that Currie “made no reply to the charge”. He said a file was being prepared for the DPP, whose directions were awaited. He said there was an objection to bail.

Solicitor Michael O’Connor told Judge Lucey there was no application for bail, adding that a psychiatric assessment of his client was “urgently required” and asked Judge Lucey to make that part of his order. The judge agreed to the request and remanded Currie in custody to appear at Cloverhill District Court on January 10. Legal aid was granted.

Rebecca Moynihan, a Labour Party councillor who lives near the church, said the fire would be a blow to the local community.

“The outside structure looks fine. It’s cordoned off at the moment. But I think the internal structures have been damaged massively.

“It is a church that is kind of central to the heart of the Liberties and the social life of the Liberties.

“Many older members of the community use it every day and, every Sunday, it is still packed out. It’s one of the busiest churches in the city.”

Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin and Glendalough, Michael Jackson, expressed his shock and sympathy with the priests and parishioners of St Catherine’s.

“I have had the opportunity to visit the clergy of the parish and to write directly to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, expressing both sorrow and solidarity at this time. I found the clergy in good heart and eager to press forward with the work and witness to the presence of God in the lives of those who worship in faith and hope in St Catherine’s.”

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