Irish Republican News · July 5, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Mass cancelled as Harryville intimidation lingers

Eight years after sectarian intimidation of Catholic church-goers began in Ballymena, the doors of the Church of Our Lady closed on Saturday night.

Ever since the intimidation began, the church has cancelled Saturday night Mass during July and August in a bid to reduce tension.

Saturday’s Mass was the first to be called off this summer -- even though the violent and intimidatory unionist mobs are no longer present outside the Saturday night service.

They insisted that if the Protestant marching Orders were unable to march through the nearby village of Dunloy to a church service, Catholic parishioners would be unable to get to their church.

The intimidation lasted for 20 months, and many parishioners are still unwilling to make public comment.

But one parishioner said: “It shows that we are still not in a normal society when a church feels it has to cancel a service.

“I never thought we would still be doing this eight years on but there always is a lot of tension about in the summer, especially when Drumcree starts.

“Masses will still be held on Sundays during the summer and also during weekday mornings.”

Another Mass-goer said: “It’s a terrible indictment of society that this has to be done.

“There is a parochial house down there which has been evacuated for years.

“Any church tries to develop, grow and do things but in Harryville all you have is a church that opens for a number of services and closes again and is locked up in the meantime.

“The whole direct sectarianism targeted at the church with a Red Hand of Ulster on the footpath outside the gate and also red, white and blue colours painted on the outside of the boundary wall is obviously shocking too.”


The Pope may visit the North of Ireland, possibly as early as mid-October, according to unconfirmed reports.

A previously planned trip to Mexico has been cancelled and a return to Ireland has been pencilled in. Pope John Paul II is keen to avoid long haul flights which put greater strain on the Pope’s health.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News