9 October 2008 Edition

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Return of church to Sailortown community welcomed

THE return of St Joseph’s Church to the Sailortown community in Belfast has been welcomed by the Sinn Féin Junior Minister and MLA for North Belfast, Gerry Kelly.
This follows a long campaign by Sailortown residents following the closure of the 120-year-old church, which is a listed building, in 2001.
The Catholic church closed its doors because of the dwindling population in the docks area of Belfast. Parishioners and former residents protested, and a Mass has been held on the steps every Sunday.
The Catholic authorities have now leased the former church to the Sailortown Regeneration Group.
Gerry Kelly said:
“Congratulations are due to the St Joseph’s congregation and others who have fought tirelessly to prevent the demolition or dereliction of the church since closure in 2001.
“The fact that the Sailortown Regeneration Group will now be taking the project forward will, I hope, secure the future of St Joseph’s.
The Sinn Féin MLA said that new private and social housing is being built around the church “which has always been the heartbeat of the docks community”.
“I understand that there remains a restricted covenanting on the building which prohibits any religious service. I will be in contact with the diocese on this issue as I have been approached by members of the congregation in order to see this resolved.”

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