Church can take comfort from ‘indiscriminate’ Kirkton vandalism say police

Martin MacGregor outside St Columba's RC Church.

Police have said a Dundee church targeted by a gang of vandals may be able to take comfort from the fact  thugs have been “indiscriminately” targeting buildings across Kirkton.

Members of the congregation of St Columba’s RC Church on Derwent Avenue said they feared their elderly priest, Father Neil Gallagher, was being targeted in sectarian attacks.

Over the past few weeks, youths have daubed offensive graffiti on the walls of the church and smashed windows on the church house.

They have even climbed onto the roof of the building to tear off slates and thrown stones at the cars of worshippers leaving church after Mass.

One on occasion they even threw slates from the roof at Father Gallagher when he confronted them.

Congregation member Martin MacGregor said he believed the attacks could be described as a “hate crime.”

But in a letter to independent ward councillor Ian Borthwick, Police Scotland’s Tayside Division said the church was just one of a number of targets hit by vandals in recent weeks.

The letter states a number of youths have been traced in connection with the incidents at St Columba’s and reported to the Youth Justice Assessor.

A number of children and their parents have also been made to sign Acceptable Behaviour Contracts while Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) have also been issued.

The letter added: “It may be of some reassurance to know that the church has not been individually targeted.

“Unfortunately the youths have indiscriminately caused significant damage at Asda stores and houses in the area.”

Police are also set to examine photographs taken by community wardens of the youths who may have been responsible for some of the graffiti at the church.

Mr Borthwick said he was pleased Police Scotland were taking strong action against the gang.

He said: “I am satisfied with the police response but obviously it is necessary to keep a watchful eye on the situation.

“I am also making inquiries as to the possibility of the council assisting the church in removing the graffiti.

“The situation has caused a lot of distress of the congregation.”