Northern Ireland’s Justice Minister Naomi Long is considering establishing a security fund to help places of worship recover from attacks.
More than 600 incidents of criminal damage to religious buildings, churchyards or cemeteries have been recorded since 2014/15.
Ms Long said she was exploring whether a security fund for Northern Ireland is required, similar to the Places of Worship Security Fund which operates in England and Wales and the development of a similar scheme in Scotland, both of which focus on religiously motivated hate crime.
Ms Long said: “Places of worship play an important role in many communities and in many people’s lives.
“As I have stated previously, I recognise the effect that an attack on a place of worship can have in terms of the distress and disruption.”
The Justice Minister made her comments in response to a question from the DUP’s Paul Givan, who said statistics show an attack on a place of worship takes place every three days.
“It is necessary to protect churches and places of worship from attack and vandalism,” he said. “With the return of public gatherings in churches and places of worship due to the easing of restrictions it is important that protection is offered to places with a risk of damage or attack.”
Picture: Justice Minister Naomi Long. (Niall Carson/PA).