Thieves robbed €5k from church on Christmas Day
on 04/01/2013 00:00:00
"It is shocking, absolutely. Nothing is sacred any more," said Fr Joseph Shire, parish priest of Ballyagran in Co Limerick.
According to gardaí, the break-in at Ballyagran Church took place between the hours of 12.30pm on Christmas Day and 9am on St Stephen's Day.
The last Christmas Day Mass was celebrated at 11am and the parish sacristan made the discovery prior to 10am Mass on St Stephen's Day morning.
"The rear sacristy door was forced open along with the internal door of the church. Drawers in the sacristy were ransacked. There was a safe removed to the rear of the church where it was subsequently located," said a Garda spokesperson.
The thieves made off with €5,000 of assorted coins, notes, and cheques. Damage worth €500 was also caused. Fr Shire, who has enjoyed nine Christmases in Ballyagran, said it was the first time the church had been targeted in such a way.
He said it was "shocking" somebody would enter a parish church on Christmas night "and break down the back door and take the safe out the back and scatter all the sacred vessels on the ground - the chalices and the ciborium - and steal and rob the money that was collected".
The incident, he said, was a eye opener for people in terms of security, particularly in light of the closure of rural Garda stations.
"It has been our first experience of something like this in this church since I came out of town [Limerick City]. People have to be aware that there is an increase in burglaries. We have lost our Garda station in Castletown-Ballyagran.
"It is one of the rural Garda stations closing down. We have to be more security aware and security conscious from now on, especially when people can get out on Christmas night to do something like that. The boundaries have broken down," he said.
Gardaí are following a line of enquiry.