CHURCH leaders in Belfast have condemned as racist and sacrilegious an attack on the Jewish plot in Belfast City Cemetery last weekend, when a gang of youths, armed with hammers and blocks, smashed tombstones — some of them more than a century old.
The Archdeacon of Belfast, the Ven. George Davison, speaking as Commissary on behalf of the Bishop, who is away, said last Sunday that the vandalism was “both appalling and disgraceful, and I join with others in condemning such an anti-social, racist, and sacrilegious act.
“I also extend my sincere sympathies to those in the Jewish community in Belfast who feel the effects of this heartless attack on this significant and historic site most at this time.”
The RC Bishop of Down & Connor, Dr Noel Treanor, said that the incident called for a public debate on xenophobia: “What a tragedy and blemish, then, that the long-present, beloved, and treasured Jewish families of our community should suffer yet again such actions of disrespect, violence to the memory of their beloved dead, and the regrettable outworking of a latent xenophobia that stalks the minds of some.”
Chief Inspector Norman Haslett, of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, described the attack as “a particularly sickening incident, which we are treating as a hate crime.”