East Antrim DUP MLA Gordon Lyons has condemned those responsible for an attack on the ‘Ghost Tommy’ memorial at Cairncastle.
In a statement, Mr. Lyons said: “Over recent months Cllr Gregg McKeen and I, have had the privilege of working with the Friends of the 36th (Ulster) Division Cairncastle and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council as the local community have attempted to ensure that a suitable memorial is erected to the memory of all those from the Cairncastle area who lost their lives in both World Wars and other conflicts.
“It is no coincidence that this attack comes just days after a local Sinn Fein representative sought to heighten tensions in the area with outrageous and insensitive comments designed to cause offence and hurt to the memory of those who lost their lives.
“The very same Sinn Fein who on one hand speak of integrity and respect but yet show intolerance for Unionists, Nationalists and others who wish to remember those who paid the supreme sacrifice for the liberties we enjoy today. Both communities fought side by side and died together in World Wars and it is only right that they should be remembered with utmost dignity.
“The Cairncastle community will reject this intolerance and I will be working with the council and the Friends of the 36th (Ulster) Division in the area to ensure the ‘Ghost Tommy’ is replaced in time for Remembrance in the coming weeks.”
Ald. McKeen indicated that the “Ghost Tommy” had been erected at Cairncastle Road just last week.
“I am very disappointed at this disgraceful act of vandalism which occurred on Saturday night.”
He indicated that the memorial had been knocked to the ground.
Robert Hunter, chairman of Friends of the 36th (Ulster) Division Cairncastle said: “It is incredibly disappointing to see such a calculated and callous attack on our recently installed ‘Ghost Tommy’.
“Protestants, Catholics and others served and died alongside each other. I know in the coming days, all members of the community will come together to show that they are united in their opposition to an intolerant minority in the Cairncastle area who are intent on causing hurt to the memory of our glorious dead.”