Row over Larne’s Jubilee crown

The Crown at the Circular Road roundabout. INLT 48-346-PR

The Crown at the Circular Road roundabout. INLT 48-346-PR

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The crown erected at Circular Road roundabout to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee is the subject of a council Equality Impact Assessment.

The eight-metre high structure, designed and created by Larne Skills Development, was put in place without planning permission shortly before the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in June 2012.

Planning permission for the structure was gained retrospectively, and, despite opposition from Sinn Fein, Larne Borough Council resolved to make the display a permanent feature.

However, a Mid and East Antrim Borough Council spokesperson has now told the Times that this decision “was subject to an Equality Impact Assessment, which is currently being considered as part of cross-party Equality Working Group.”

When asked by the Times if the Equality Working Group has the power to order council to remove the Crown if it is deemed to breach equality laws, the spokesperson replied: “The Equality Working Group has no decision-making powers. It sends its recommendations through to the Policy & Resources Committee of MEA.”

Sinn Fein MLA Oliver McMullan, who has previously spoken out against the structure, told the Times that the crown showed “no consideration of the Nationalist population in Larne and the impact on it.”

He added that he would like to see the site “re-imagined and replaced” with “something that reflects both communities.”

“The Crown is not the image of Larne and it is sending out the wrong message,” he stated.

“The unionist population have the right to express their culture but the nationalist population has the right to be recognised as well. Around £13,000 of rate payers’ money went into this.

“The reality is it is not a monument that shows a diverse population of Larne.

“The new A8 will really open up Larne to the rest of the countryside and to tourism from the whole of Ireland but the Crown isn’t promoting tourism.

“Instead it has been the butt of jokes with people calling it things like ‘Burger King mound.’

“Both communities need to sit down and come up with a joint venture which puts out a good message.”

However, UUP councillor Maureen Morrow, who was Mayor of Larne Borough Council when the statue was erected, said the Crown was a “tourist attraction” which she would like to see remain in its current location.

“It could be used to market Larne, it’s a landmark and people talk about it in other parts of the world,” she stated.

“If you look at the bigger picture it’s an asset to Larne and its economy; tour buses go around the roundabout towards Glenarm and Carnlough and it puts Larne on the map. I don’t want to throw that down the drain.”

DUP Councillor Paul Reid commented: “The crown is a landmark like the two cranes in Belfast and the Albert Clock. I would welcome the crown staying in place as it’s a wonderful, unique landmark.”