Northern Ireland news

Gold mining firm denies Hibernians access to Co Tyrone 'Mass rock'

A statue of Our Lady near the Mass rock at the site of a proposed mine in Co Tyrone. Picture by Mal McCann.
Connla Young

A Canadian gold mining firm has turned down a request by the Ancient Order of Hibernians to access land in Co Tyrone where locals say a Mass rock is located.

The Catholic organisation says up to 12 bands and several hundred people are expected to attend a parade in Greencastle this Sunday to mark the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparitions at Fatima.

The parade will also be used to highlight concerns that an ancient Mass rock could be destroyed.

Some local people are bitterly opposed to a plan to develop a gold mine in the area on health and environmental grounds, but Dalradian Gold insists the plant will minimise impacts on the environment and wildlife.

The AOH wanted to travel to the Mass rock during the parade to say prayers but Dalradian, which controls the land, has refused.

The Mass rock is believed to date back to the penal laws when Catholics were forced to practice their faith in secret.

Dalradian Gold has claimed there is no evidence of a Mass rock on its land, but insists it wants to be a "good neighbour" and have “equal respect for all faith groups”.

In a reply to a letter from the AOH, the firm said it wants to “arrange a meeting to discuss the issues” but added that “until we can meet we are unable to facilitate your request”.

Tyrone AOH president Gerry McGeough last night said the parade will go ahead as planned.

"The English red coats could not deter our ancestors from honouring our faith and nor will this outfit deter us in our generation," he said.

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