Northern Ireland

Belfast: Priest threatened at gunpoint in burglary

St Michael the Archangel church in Belfast Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The priest, based at St Michael the Archangel church in Belfast, was left "badly shaken" after the burglary

A priest has been threatened at gunpoint after two burglars forced their way into a parochial house in Belfast and ransacked the property.

It happened at St Michael the Archangel parish house in Finaghy Road North at about 19:50 BST on Friday.

The priest, who is from Australia, was threatened when he answered the door.

Police said the victim was "left badly shaken by his ordeal". However, he has resumed his duties and officiated at a funeral on Saturday morning.

Image caption The burglars forced their way in at about 19:50 BST on Friday

Det Sgt Michael Hawthorne said officers believed at least one of the intruders who threatened the priest was armed with a gun.

They stole cash and a set of keys from the parochial house, and fled the scene when they triggered a burglar alarm at the nearby church.

It is believed footage of the burglars may have been captured on CCTV cameras.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The priest officiated at a funeral hours after the burglary

Sinn Féin representatives who called with the priest after the burglary said they believed he was also "assaulted" before being robbed.

'Despicable attack'

West Belfast MLA Alex Maskey said: "I visited the victim after the incident along with my party colleague councillor Matt Garrett and while quite shaken he is determined to continue with his duties including a funeral mass tomorrow [Saturday] morning.

"This was a cowardly and despicable attack on someone who serves the local community."

Mr Maskey appeal for anyone with information about the burglary to contact police.