Belfast: coffin damaged in church attack

 A coffin was damaged in a Belfast Catholic church, the night before a funeral was due to take place. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Statues and confessionals were vandalised and the altar was desecrated with excrement at St Agnes' Catholic Church on the Andersonstown Road on Friday night. The Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor Dr Patrick Walsh condemned the attack. He said: "Respect for the dead is a great characteristic of every civilised person. "It is certainly a great characteristic of Irish people, our respect for the dead. "That someone should do this in the church where a coffin was resting in peace, preparing for a funeral Mass, just is beyond words." Relatives of the dead woman were reported to be very distressed. The service was conducted at another nearby church. Describing those who had carried out the attack as 'mindless thugs' local Sinn Fein Councillor Paul Maskey said: "Obviously this is a very upsetting time for the family because it is bad enough burying your mother never mind coming to the chapel to do so only to find someone has broken into the chapel and done so much damage to it."

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