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Anna Nolan: A priest assaulted, his sacristan battered... is there nothing sacred?

Have you ever wandered in to a church and felt a sense of security? I strolled around Bristol Cathedral this weekend and enjoyed every step.

There were beautiful stained glass windows, huge vaulted walls that worked their way across the building, and wonderful gothic features.

As I took a few steps downwards, I was in a tiny chapel that was empty, silent and sacred.

But with this sense of security, came afterwards a sense of vulnerability. I was on my own, in a chamber that was away from the main church. I should have felt totally at peace, but with having learned to "have my wits about me", I was sensitive to the fact that I was isolated.


Churches allow us to walk around and experience whatever level of spirituality we so choose. We should feel that we are safe, but in fact this stillness, and lack of civic noise, makes it a place that is actually more susceptible to crime. It has happened in the past, and it happened again this week in St Gabriel's Church in Clontarf, Dublin.

Just after 9am Mass yesterday, a man attacked two people within the church -- the local priest and the sacristan.


I don't know why this attack should seem worse than any attack that happens during the day on the street, but it just does.

On the street, we can expect someone to lift a purse, shove a pensioner or nick a bike. That's the street. It's dog eat dog. But in a church, I have this old-fashioned idea of everything staying at the door.

This attacker went up to the altar, opened the tabernacle and took out the ciboriums. Have you ever held a ciborium? Do you know how heavy they are? They are the containers that hold all the hosts for Holy Communion.

This idiot hit the sacristan with them. That's some blow to the head.

Next, the attacker chased the priest and smashed his way through glass to try and get to the him. The sacristan has a badly damaged eye, the priest is obviously shaken.

My mother has a great saying that she utters when we, her children, are being unruly or downright disrespectful.

"Is nothing sacred?" Well, actually some things are.

Many may well put on their cynical hats and say the church needs as much bashing as possible. Figuratively speaking. Sure, it deserves some shaking up.

But getting a chalice in the eye and the glass of the church destroyed is nothing less than an outrageous and a cowardly act.

There are so few places that one feels safe, peaceful and able to reflect on life. No one should be throwing their weight, or their aggression around churches. Churches are sacred and the least we can expect in them is feeling safe.

Good on Dara, he helped me out on The Panel. I'm glad to see his star rising

WITHOUT doubt the best thing about the BBC's The Apprentice is the apprentice turned expert – Dara O Briain, who took over from Adrian Chiles last season on The Apprentice – You're Fired. We knew Chiles was good, really good. He was quick, wry and funny.

When O Briain was announced as the host, I thought he would do well to fill in for Chiles in a show that had created its own style and tone. And so, as we witnessed Adrian Chiles become an embarrassment on the new Daybreak, on ITV, we saw O Briain take the You're Fired show and ratchet it up several gears.

He makes the guests and the poor fired apprentices seem important. He lets them speak, but he cannot help himself being hugely entertaining. He's like your mammy's home-cooked stew -- warm, comforting, but bubbling with nuggets of brilliance.

While Chiles liked to embarrass the apprentices, O Briain likes them all and almost is apologetic when he makes fun of them.

I worked with Dara on several occasions while being a guest on The Panel. He was constantly supportive and was aware that these shows worked best with male, thick-necked gobbiness, rather than female, witty humour.


During rehearsals and the meetings beforehand, as all the comedians would try to outshine, outspeak and out-joke each other, he would make sure he asked my opinion and allow me to present what I had to say, because he knew that in this lad's world, those who shouted loudest always got heard.

Dara O Briain is without doubt one of our greatest talents on television. Long may his success continue.

Clooney's split -- what a big surprise. Not

WHAT with Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz getting married, and Justin Timberlake seemingly hooking up with Scarlett Johansson, it seems love is in the air. Summer is bringing all the luscious Hollywood stars together.

Apart from George Clooney. He has split up again, from another drop dead gorgeous woman. What a surprise. As sure as night follows day, Clooney leaves his lady, and women and gay men around the world whisper "Ahhhh, he may be mine one day ... .".