Clergymen condemn Killyleagh manse fire

Clergymen condemn Killyleagh manse fire

16 November 2011 - by DAVID TELFORD

CHURCH leaders in Killyleagh have united to condemn arsonists who destroyed a Presbyterian manse in the town last weekend.

The building at Seaside Road on the shores of Strangford Lough was set on fire during the early hours of Sunday morning.

The extent of the damage is such that the manse, which wasn’t occupied at the time and has been on the market for sale, may have to be bulldozed.

Also during the early hours of Sunday morning an attempt was made to set fire to Kilmore Orange Hall, but two men who had moved wheelie bins full of rubbish to the side of the building were disturbed by a resident and made off.

Yesterday morning, Fr. Colum Curran, from St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Church, and Church of Ireland Minister, the Rev. Jerome Munyangaju, visited the burnt out shell of Killyleagh manse.

They say they’re “horrified” at what happened and their thoughts are with members of Second Killyleagh Presbyterian Church who own the destroyed building and who don’t have a permanent minister at this time due to a vacancy.

The clergymen said the arson was a “ghastly and outrageous incident which will be condemned by all right thinking people in Killyleagh and beyond.”

“This is wrong and we want to send out a strong signal that this type of behaviour is simply unacceptable. We protest strongly against this and want to add our names to the list of people who have condemned what happened,” said Fr. Curran.

“We wish to show our solidarity and sympathy with our sisters and brothers in the Presbyterian Church who have had to endure this very unpleasant episode.”

Fr. Curran also appealed to those responsible to stop engaging in such behaviour as it sends out the wrong image about the town of Killyleagh and its people.

“People in my church are horrified at what happened and their thoughts are with those associated with Second Killyleagh at this time,” he added.

Mr. Munyangaju said the Killyleagh community is normally very peaceful, describing the malicious blaze as “outrageous.”

“This was a fantastic building on a beautiful site and why should this sort of thing happen? I believe this was an isolated incident and hope nothing like this ever happens again.

“This incident shows how people can destroy beautiful, sacred places. This is church property which belongs to the Second Killyleagh Presbyterian congregation and our thoughts are very much with them at this time. What has happened is very sad.”

Mr. Munyangaju said the arson attack during the current economic climate will place a heavy burden on Second Killyleagh’s congregation. He said the incident could not have happened at a worse time.

Police investigating the arson attack have issued an appeal for information. They want to hear from anyone who may have noticed any suspicious activity in the Seaside Road area in Killyleagh either late last Saturday night or during the early hours of the following morning to contact them on 0845 600 8000, or use the Crimestoppers number, 0800 555 111.