The public will have a say in the future of the popular North Belfast church

Members of the public are invited to have their say on the future of a former north Belfast church.

The Church of the Resurrection first opened on Cavehill Road in 1980 and was permanently closed in 2008 due to continued leaks from its roof.

The cost of the repairs was beyond the resources of the Holy Family parish at the time, as it was £2 million in debt.

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In 2008 and 2013, parish-wide consultations were proposed to decide the future of the church building, ranging from doing nothing, repairing and renovating the building, or constructing a new structure.

However, over time the church building deteriorated and became a hotspot for anti-social behavior and theft.

Now the local parish is urging the public to have a say in whether or not the building is demolished.

In a statement, Holy Family Parish said: “There is clearly a lack of priests to serve the parish and those involved within the parish.

“The current active churches of the Holy Family and Saint Theresa have supported the number of parishioners over the years and indeed have also resulted in the reduction in the number of Masses offered as more and more seats became available at every mass.

“In 2020/2021 parish income has fallen by £100,000 (pounds). The safety of the building is also a consideration as well as its general outlook in the area.

“Recent pressure has come from the insurance company due to security concerns. Insurers have told us that if there is no progress with demolition they say they will require the site to be secured and constantly monitored with a maintenance program to undertake. This will be expensive for the parish.”

Speaking on the future of the Church of the Resurrection site, Alliance MP Nuala McAllister said it offered a “huge opportunity”.

She said: “There’s a huge opportunity here for this to become a community asset, whether it’s used as a community space, social enterprise, services for young people, there’s a lot of ideas to make sure that the space is not left to ruin.

“It can be an exciting opportunity for the local community to have a say in what will replace this asset and how we can get the most out of it.

“I look forward to working with the parish to consult on its future and will stress the need to ensure that the past anti-social behavior that has taken place on the ground does not occur, and to do so in collaboration with the local Community Policy Team and Belfast City Council.”

The public is invited to complete an answer sheet here and drop it off at the parish office before 12 p.m. on Monday, May 30.

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Jerry B. Hatch