Harryville Catholic church in Antrim to be demolished
Church was the scene for loyalist protests as worshippers turned up for Saturday evening Masses during the mid-1990s
Work has begun to demolish Harryville Catholic Church in Ballymena, County Antrim, The church that was the scene of loyalist protests for several years. Photograph: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Demolition work has begun on Ballymena Catholic church, which was the scene for loyalist protests as worshippers turned up for Saturday evening Masses during the mid-1990s.
Our Lady’s Church in the Harryville area of the Co Antrim town was built in 1968 and had suffered structural problems in recent years. It closed in 2012.
Loyalist protests were mounted weekly outside the church gates beginning in 1996 after a loyalist parade in nearby Dunloy was banned. They ceased following the signing of the Belfast Agreement in 1998.
Parish spokesman Fr Edward McGee told The Irish Times last night there were several churches in the vicinity and Catholics in the parish had transferred to them.
The parish had said in a statement the building has been unsafe for some time.
“Because of the damage to the roof and the building and the consequent risk of electrical failure, the cost of repair would be prohibitive.”
The statement added that the church had ongoing problems with water getting into the building and these had never been “fully resolved”.
“This decision has been taken with regret on account of the fond memories and strong attachments that we all have to a church building,” the statement added.
The spokesman pointed to a diocesan programme, published last week and distributed throughout parishes in Down and Connor, which emphasised the need for parishes to “rationalise” Mass times and the use of churches, given the decline in numbers of seminarians and priests.