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Newtownards leaders unite against hate crime

Far left, the Revd Alan Peek, rector of Movilla, pictured with other local religious leaders, the Mayor of Ards and North Down, Cllr Richard Smart, and Mike Nesbitt MLA. Ards Churches Together is a collective of leaders from Anglican, Methodist, Catholic, Presbyterian, non–denominational and other backgrounds.
Far left, the Revd Alan Peek, rector of Movilla, pictured with other local religious leaders, the Mayor of Ards and North Down, Cllr Richard Smart, and Mike Nesbitt MLA. Ards Churches Together is a collective of leaders from Anglican, Methodist, Catholic, Presbyterian, non–denominational and other backgrounds.

Church, civic and Muslim leaders from Newtownards have met together in a show of unity against hate crime in the borough.

The group was photographed outside the Islamic Prayer House in Greenwell Street, Newtownards, after a group of men posing as Ku Klux Klan members posed in the same spot last weekend. Police are treating the weekend’s incident as a hate crime.

Local church leaders have condemned the group and Ards Churches Together, which includes the Church of Ireland parishes of St Mark’s and Movilla Abbey, issued the following statement:

“Newtownards is known as a kind, friendly and helpful community, so we were appalled to see symbols of hate appear on our streets this past weekend. The choices of those individuals to wear KKK robes have hurt the whole community and made people feel unsafe in their own homes.

“To those who feel intimidated or unwelcome as a result of these actions we say: You have our support. We stand with you.

“We encourage those involved to take responsibility for their actions and to come forward to the police. We also encourage them to talk to their local churches confidentially, if they would like to find a way to leave hate and hurt behind. As Ards Churches Together we say that hate has no place in our town.”