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Fundraising night to be held for St Joseph's Church, Sailortown

A fundraising event will be held tonight in a desperate attempt to raise money towards repair work at St Joseph's Church, Sailortown, pictured in 2008. Picture by Mal McCann

CAMPAIGNERS trying to save a historic church have appealed for support after recent damage led it to being designated a "dangerous building".

A special fundraising event is due to be held tonight in a desperate attempt to raise money towards repair work at St Joseph's Church, Sailortown.

The church, located in the Docks area of Belfast, was closed by the Catholic Church in 2001, despite a parishioners' campaign to keep it open.

The building is now owned by the Sailortown Regeneration Group with hopes it can be redeveloped as a community venue to showcase the area's maritime and industrial heritage.

An application for a full restoration grant from the lottery's heritage fund is in the final stages of the assessment process.

But last month Belfast City Council's building control department warned it had to be secured and repaired after a falling marble column caused damage to adjoining apartments.

The required safety work is estimated to cost around £30,000.

A fundraising campaign by the Friends of St Joseph's Church has been launched to raise money for the emergency safety repairs amid fears the building may have to be demolished.

In a statement, the group said: "We need to put hoarding around the front and back of the church and house. Also netting around the spire to prevent anything falling into the street.

"This will need stonemasons, steeplejacks and materials as well as a structural engineer professsional report.

"Building control issued a 'dangerous building' notice on 10th May so we need to act asap or the church and house will have be removed."

The group had called for people to support a fundraiser event tonight for a "chance to meet up with old friends and neighbours from Sailortown with plenty of memories to share".

"This could be a last chance if it is decided that the church is to be pulled down, but my we are not going to let that (happen)," it said.

The event takes place in Church Hall, 174 Antrim Road, Belfast at 8pm and a fundraising page has also been set up www.crowdfunder.co.uk/st-josephs-church-sailortown.

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