“Please leave our church alone”

UNDER ATTACK...The Salvation Army Church in Coleraine. CR20 181pl
UNDER ATTACK...The Salvation Army Church in Coleraine. CR20 181pl

ELDERLY members of a Coleraine church were threatened by a gang of youths as they prepared for a funeral last week.

The shocking incident at the Salvation Army Church on the Ballycastle Road is just the latest in a series of anti-social behaviour which has terrified the elderly members of the church.

The Coleraine Times was contacted by one such member of the congregation who did not want to be identified.

She told us: “For almost three years now, gangs of youths have entered the church grounds causing disruption to the church service and attempting to damage property.

“The police have been involved on numerous occasion to deal with these thugs but the situation appears to get worse not better.

“Just this past week, while some of the congregation were making preparations for the funeral of one of their members, they came under attack from a gang of youths.

“These thugs climbed onto the roof of the premises while the people were inside.

“They threatened a member of the church who challenged them and proceeded to the front door of the building, shouting obscenities.

“This is just a continuation of the disgraceful behaviour of these gangs.

“In the past they have broken windows, drainpipes, doorbells. They have written graffiti, kicked in doors, destroyed rubbish bins and broken church lettering on the wall. They also have used the premises to eat carry-outs, drink alcohol, and play football. The language coming from the grounds of the church at times is atrocious.

“The majority of the congregation are elderly and feel intimidated and frightened to attend their place of worship.”

The lady called on local parents to exercise control over their children and also asked newly elected councillors to tackle the issue.