BY MARK GREAVES
A GROUP of eight robbers have shot and seriously injured an Irish missionary priest at the Aids hospice he founded in South Africa.
Fr Kieran Creagh is recovering in a Johannesburg hospital after doctors removed a bullet from his lung.
The men shot him at the Leratong Hospice in Atteridgeville, near Pretoria. which the priest founded in 2004 with money he raised himself. They stole cash from the safe. a television and a mobile phone.
Fr Creagh, a Passionist priest from Belfast, was named "Irish International Person of the Year" in 2004 after he became the first volunteer in South Africa to take part in the human trials of an Aids vaccine. In the same year he founded the hospice in an impoverished township to care for Aids sufferers in the final stage of their illness. The hospice has since attracted visits from a number of Irish politicians and volunteer nurses.
Fr Creagh's brother Liam said there had been massive support for his brother since the attack, including a message from the South African president Thabo Mbeki.
He explained that the robbery had been a traumatic experience for everyone at the hospice. "Two men came in and overpowered the guards," he said. "They went up to the apartment where he stays at the hospice and they rang the bell. He thought it was a patient coming to get him. He opened the door and I think there was a bit of a struggle. They fired two shots at least. One shot hit him in one of his lungs — and it is lodged there — and the other shot went through his arm."
Liam said that his brother showed promising signs of recovery. "My brother Paul says that he is in brilliant form and looks like himself again."