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Last Updated: Friday, 12 August 2005, 13:26 GMT 14:26 UK
'Solidarity' over church clean up
One of the volunteers helping to clean the church
Volunteers helped to clean paint off the church
Churchgoers of all denominations in County Antrim have helped clean up a Catholic Church which has been targeted by loyalists.

It followed the latest in a series of attacks on the Church of Our Lady in Harryville near Ballymena.

Youth Pastor Jeremy Gardiner said they wanted to show solidarity with their Catholic neighbours.

"In the negativity that's going on in the town right now, somebody needs to make a stand," he said.

"Hopefully that's what we're going to do today in a positive way."

Pastor Gardiner, from High Kirk Presbyterian Church in Ballymena, led groups from his congregation to clean a previous graffiti attack on the church.

'Reaching out'

"For me, the story of the Good Samaritan really comes to mind - helping other people who are in need and reaching out to our neighbours.

"That is exactly what we are doing; we are reaching out to our neighbours. At this point in time they happen to be Catholic neighbours, if it was Protestant neighbours, we would do the same."

He said he had received letters and emails from places like Canada, America, Germany and France praising his church's support of Harryville's Catholic parishioners.

Youth Pastor Jeremy Gardiner
Youth Pastor Jeremy Gardiner said they wanted to make a stand
Father Paul Symonds said he was absolutely delighted by what was happening.

"Today my cup is overflowing with joy as I see all these people, all these brothers and sisters in Christ from other churches and denominations in Ballymena, coming together to show solidarity with us."

On Tuesday night, paint bombs were thrown at the church, the third such attack in the last month.

The church had just been restored after a previous incident.

Police condemned those responsible and said it was linked to tensions over a republican parade in the town.

Several hundred loyalists staged a protest over the parade held to commemorate the introduction of internment in 1971.

The march involved two republican bands from Antrim, a town about 11 miles from Ballymena, parading the length of Fisherwick Gardens.




SEE ALSO:
Church attacks 'were desecration'
31 Jul 05 |  Northern Ireland
Church attack 'linked to parade'
10 Aug 05 |  Northern Ireland
Police praise after town parade
10 Aug 05 |  Northern Ireland
Republican parade is restricted
29 Jul 05 |  Northern Ireland


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