Gardaí in Longford are investigating a break-in at a church outside Longford town. 

The discovery was made at 7am when St Michael's Church in Shroid, was being opened up for Easter Sunday mass. 

Extensive damage was caused to the altar and a number of items were stolen, including the tabernacle. 

Bishop Francis Duffy, Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, visited the scene of the break-in this morning.

Speaking afterwards he said, "This act of desecration is disrespectful to religion and to the local community. It is extremely upsetting for the parishioners and the clergy here in Longford that something like this could happen, but especially during Holy Week.

"The tabernacle is the centrepiece of every mass as it holds the sacred communion hosts. It holds the bread that we believe has been transformed into the body of Christ. That is what we believe and that is why this act of desecration is so distressing.

"The tabernacle is of great significance to the local parish here. We would love to be able to get it back so I appeal this Easter Sunday morning for anyone with any information to contact the gardaí at Longford Garda Station on 043 335 0570."

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