Belfast Telegraph

Homes replace protest-hit Harryville church

By Staff Reporter

A Catholic church in Ballymena which was the scene of loyalist riots at the height of the parades crisis 20 years ago has been replaced by housing.

New homes are nearing completion in Harryville at the site of the former Church of Our Lady.

The church was the focus of protests against a parade ban in Dunloy from 1996 until 1998.

It closed in 2012 after Church authorities said there were structural issues with the building. It was demolished in 2013.

Work on almost 50 new houses began last year and is now nearing completion.

The Harryville church generated worldwide headlines in the mid-1990s due to a regular loyalist picket - sometimes 400-strong - outside its doors. Loyalists said it was a response to nationalist objections to Orange parades around 10 miles away in Dunloy.

The protests, which often disrupted Mass and frequently turned violent, eventually ended after the Good Friday Agreement was signed.

The church was damaged on a number of occasions in sectarian attacks, and in 2005 police even positioned a special guard on the building.

The shut in 2012 because of leaks and structural damage which would have cost more than £600,000 to repair.

Planning permission was later granted to build 48 new homes on the site.

Belfast Telegraph

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