11 March 2006

Chapel parking is just the ticket

Belfast Telegraph

By Nevin Farrell

11 March 2006

A PROTESTANT church in Ballymena has agreed to make its car park available to Catholic parishioners using a nearby church.

Harryville Presbyterian Church is making its car park available tonight to Mass-goers at the Church of our Lady, the scene of a controversial loyalist picket.

Harryville minister the Rev John Finlay confirmed that the car park has been offered.

Harryville parish priest Fr Paul Symonds also welcomed the scheme. "It is a very gracious gesture from Harryville Presbyterian Church," he said.

"Someone from the church will have to come along specially on a Saturday night to open the car park and it will be open anyway on Sundays for their own services and they said we are welcome to park then as well."

Last summer the Catholic church in mainly unionist Harryville was targeted several times by paint-bombers.

But members of Protestant church congregations, in a show of solidarity with their Catholic neighbours, helped scrub off the paint.

And, in recent times, Fr Symonds has built up close links with the Harryville Ulster Scots Society. The Ulster Scots Society has worked closely with the Ulster Political Research Group to hammer out an initiative which will see the removal of a UDA mural overlooking Harryville Chapel and replaced with an Ulster-Scots theme in April.

Tricolours and other emblems erected by nationalists in the north end of Ballymena will also be taken down as part of the deal.

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