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Government may be asked to pay to protect places of worship after hundreds of attacks reported

Motion to Newry, Mourne and Down Council reveals 35 of the 445 attacks in past three years happened in that district

Close to 450 attacks have been carried out on places of worship in Northern Ireland over the past three years.

And the shock figure has led to calls for security funding to be provided from Government to help reduce such crime.

That will be the issue for debate when Ulster Unionist councillor David Taylor tables a notice of motion to Newry, Mourne and Down District Council next week.

Across that council district, some 35 of the total 445 attacks were recorded.

The information was presented in a research report by the CARE NI charity.

Such attacks have been branded “despicable” by councillor Taylor.

And in his notice of motion, he asks all councillors to join with him to “unreservedly condemn all attacks on places of worship, no matter what faith or denomination, and uphold the important human right for individuals to be free to worship and live out their faith in this society”.

The motion also asks the council to note the operation of the Places of Worship Security Scheme in England and Wales.

Under the auspices of the Home Office, it was earlier this year that the Home Secretary announced he had doubled funding for next year’s “protective security” to £1.6 million and streamlined the application process to make it easier to apply.

A panel made up of representatives from different religious groups recommends which of the applicants should be awarded funding.

Councillor Taylor wants the council to voices its “regret that a similar scheme is not available in Northern Ireland”.

And he also seeks authority for officers to write to the Department for Communities and the Northern Ireland Office calling for the “swift introduction of a similar scheme locally”.

The motion goes before the monthly council meeting on Monday.

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