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Fury as church is damaged in fire set by vandals

TENS of thousands of euro worth of damage has been caused to a church attacked twice in the space of 24 hours.

THE community in Rush, Co Dublin, is in shock following a suspected arson attack at St Maur's Church -- a day after it was targeted by vandals.

When the groundskeeper arrived at the premises at about 8am on Monday, he noticed a blaze and called Dublin Fire Brigade immediately.

Three tenders rushed to the scene to tackle the incident at the church, which was built in 1989.

Fr Kieran Coghlan said "extensive damage" was caused to the sacristy area in the fire.

Shocking

"All of the vestments are all gone. It's shocking, not just for me, but for people in the parish as well to find the church deliberately destroyed and vandalised in that way," he told the Herald.

"They wrecked the place (on Saturday) and on Sunday they came back -- I presume the same people -- and broke in and the sacristy was set alight and the tabernacle was stolen from the church, which we thankfully have recovered," he added.

Fr Coghlan is hoping that insurance will cover the repair costs, which "won't be an insignificant sum".

The fire did not spread to the main church building but smoke damage was caused throughout. However, no one was injured in the incident.

Olivia Murphy, who works at the community centre, said: "The church was vandalised on Saturday night and then on Sunday they wrecked the place.

"They broke in and burned the vestry. There were two attacks over the weekend at the church, which is pretty bad.

"Everything (in the vestry) was burned," she added.

Locals have blamed the closure of Rush Garda Station for rising crime levels.

"We have to lock our gates with a padlock, not to stop thieves coming in but to stop them coming in with a truck," local resident Kevin Thorp told the Herald.

Mr Thorp said the raiders were "probably trying to break open the safe" in the church on Saturday.

A Garda spokesman confirmed officers from Lusk are investigating criminal damage at the church.

CCTV footage has been viewed but no arrests have yet been made.

comurphy@herald.ie