The Belfast church which offered sanctuary to Romanian immigrants hounded out of their homes by racist thugs was itself attacked last night.
Pastor Malcolm Morgan arrived at the church this morning to find several windows and the main glass doorway smashed.
Pastor Morgan said the church had never been attacked in such a way before.
He said: “It would be easy to conclude that it was someone who did not like our work with the Romanians, but that is only guesswork.
“If it is, I think that is very sad. We had nothing but positive comments all last week — so many emails and local folk thanking us — so it was quite a surprise this morning,” he said.
When asked if he regretted the decision to shelter the Romanians Pastor Morgan said: “Absolutely not. I was just thrilled we as a church were able to respond last week and we would do the same tomorrow.”
The Romanians — 115 people, including 49 children — spent a night in the church hall before being found temporary accommodation.
It emerged today that up to 100 now intend to leave Northern Ireland following the attacks.
Northern Ireland Social Development minister Margaret Ritchie said the attack on the church was “outrageous”.
She said: “I am saddened but not shocked by this outrageous attack on the church.
“The action of these mindless thugs greatly contrasts with the outpouring of warmth and generosity demonstrated by the people of Belfast towards the plight of the Romanians.”
She added: “This church was the first to extend the hand of friendship and that makes it doubly disgraceful that it should be attacked.”
Three men, all aged 20, have been arrested in connection with the incident.