Launch of a mural as St Luke’s project moves forward

Wednesday May 25th 2011

St Luke's Church, Lower Falls, which closed in 2006.The vacant St Luke’s Church in the parish of Lower Falls will be open to the public on Friday May 27 as plans to re-launch it as a cross community centre move forward.

The proposed ‘Open Hands Centre’ has been constituted as a charity and in partnership with the Upper Springfield Development Trust and the Shankill Women’s Centre, it will launch a new mural on Friday.

The launch is part of Community Relations Week, and speaker is Duncan Morrow, Chief Executive Officer of the Community Relations Council.

The launch will include music, refreshments, and the unveiling of the mural by local artists Danny Deveney, Marke Ervine and Marty Lyons who have worked with young local people from both sides of the interface.

Tracey McRory, a renowned musician and composer, will be playing the harp and pupils from Malvern Primary School will be singing.

The Rev Edith Quirey.Edith said it was amazing how much had already been achieved in the project. A grant of £97,000 from the International Fund for Ireland has allowed the Open Hands Committee to appoint a community relations officer.  Marion Weir took up her post in March, and Edith says she will be co-ordinating fundraising and the various projects the committee has in mind for the Open Hands Centre. These include after school provision, community cafe, library, and even a place for tour buses visiting the Shankill to stop off.

Marion has 20 years experience in community relations and is originally from the area. With additional funding already secured from the Priority’s Fund, Edith is hopeful a further application to the IFI will be successful.

“We will know in November if we have been successful in our application for £800,000 to the IFI, but I feel it is looking very positive,” said Edith.

“The launch of the mural will give people a chance to see what is happening and to have a look around the church and see what we hope to do. This will be shared space and we want groups coming from both communities to use our shared space.”

Edith herself is local to the area, and spent her childhood in Lanark Street. “I had grown up with Catholic friends and never had a problem. We need to let the next generation see that we are no different to each other,” she said.

The launch of the mural takes place between 12 noon and 2pm in Small Wonders 2, St Luke’s Church Hall, Northumberland Street, Belfast.

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