Gardai in Balbriggan are continuing to investigate what they believe was a suspected arson attack on a north County Dublin church.
On Monday, January 21, emergency services were called to a blaze at St Maur’s Church on Whitestown Road in Rush. Three units of the Dublin Fire Brigade successfully contained and extinguished the fire.
The fire is believed to have been an act of deliberate vandalism and has shocked the local parish community in Rush.
According to a spokesperson for the Garda Press Office, the investigation is continuing and the fire is being treated as suspicious.
The attack is believed to have taken place sometime between the hours of 10pm on Sunday, January 20 and 8.05am on Monday, January 21.
The spokesperson said the fire was the second attack on the church, after the premises was burgled during the night of Saturday, January 19 and Sunday, January 20.
“There was also property stolen from the premises and the gardai are continuing to investigate,” the spokesperson confirmed.
The attack on the local church was condemned by local Fianna Fail Senator Darragh O’Brien, who branded the attack as an “act of mindless vandalism”.
“This [act] has badly damaged a much-loved local church,” he said. “I would urge anyone with information on the fire to contact the gardai.
“The attack highlights the impact of a lack of a Garda presence in Rush. Criminals feel they can act with impunity because there are no gardai based in the town anymore.”
Senator O’Brien said that since the closure of the Garda station in Rush last year, he has noticed that people have become increasingly concerned about burglaries and vandalism in the area.
“We cannot have a situation where criminals see the residents of Rush as an easy target,” he stated.
“I am calling for a satellite Garda facility to be established at Rush Community Centre with immediate effect.
“We need to maintain a Garda presence in the area and ease the worries of local people. I will be raising this with the Government as a priority.”
With Garda stations continuing to be shut down and potential cuts to Garda numbers threatening to take place, Senator O’Brien said that the force is dwindling to dangerously low levels: “All of this is happening as the rate of burglaries, thefts and attacks increases significantly here in North Dublin and in communities across the country,” he concluded.