14 February 2020
North Down MLA Gordon Dunne has welcomed confirmation from the Justice Minister that she is actively considering the introduction of a Places of Worship Security Scheme which is already in operation in England and Wales.
The commitment came in In response to Written Questions tabled by the DUP MLA where the Justice Minister has confirmed that between 2016 and 2019; 445 attacks were recorded on places of worship in Northern Ireland. .
Gordon Dunne MLA comments: “Freedom of religion and belief is a bedrock value of our society. Each and every person who lives here has a right to live out their faith and to worship with others.
No-one in Northern Ireland should be attacked because of their religious beliefs and as a society we should not tolerate attacks on any place of worship here. Sadly, it has become apparent that attacks on places of worship have become all too common an occurrence; with 445 attacks being recorded between 2016 and 2019. An attack on a place of worship is an attack on the community who worships there.
I welcome the news the Department of Justice is actively considering the introduction of a Places of Worship Security Scheme here. Such a scheme would allow faith communities on a voluntary basis to apply for funding to introduce security measures to protect their property. Many faith communities are small and may struggle financially to install such security measures to protect themselves from attack so such a scheme may prove valuable.
The introduction of the Places of Worship Security Scheme in England and Wales; and with the Department of Justice in Scotland recently announcing they will be launching a version of the scheme in the near future; has left Northern Ireland as the only part of the United Kingdom without such a scheme in place. I hope the Justice Minister gives speedy consideration to the introduction and implementation of a similar scheme in the near future.”