Northern Ireland

Harryville protest church to close

Our Lady's in Harryville
Image caption The church at Harryville was the scene of a number of attacks

A Catholic Church in Ballymena, County Antrim, that was the scene of loyalist protests for several years, is set to close.

It is expected that Our Lady's in Harryville will eventually be demolished.

In a statement, the church said that the building had been unsafe "for some time" and that the cost of repair would be "prohibitive".

Demonstrations outside the church took place in the 1990s.

They began in 1996 and were in response to nationalist objections to an Orange Order parade in the nearby village of Dunloy.

The protests eventually came to an end after the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

A statement on behalf of the parish of Ballymena said that problems of water getting into the building had never been "fully resolved".

"For some time now the building has been unsafe and had to be taken out of use in February 2012," it said.

"Now, 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 costs, coupled with an assessment of the current needs of the parish community, has prompted the parish authorities to close the church on a permanent basis.

"This decision has naturally been taken with regret on account of the fond memories and strong attachments that we all naturally have to a church building."