Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council has agreed to pay its share of maintenance costs for the Knockagh Monument in Greenisland.
Antrim and Newtownabbey is one of Mid and East Antrim’s partner councils that have been told to cough up towards the upkeep of the Co Antrim war memorial. Mid and East Antrim Borough Council said: “If the financial contributions are forthcoming from partner councils this would assist significantly in both the maintenance costs of the monument and its surrounds as well as towards the cost of the annual commemoriation ceremony and reception.” Ulster Unionist Councillor Robert Foster said that he was happy to propose Antrim and Newtownabbey’s contribution. He told a meeting of the local authority on Monday evening that he was “shocked” that none of the partner councils have contributed since the merger. “As a Co Antrim memorial, it is only fitting and proper we as a constituent council on our doorstep, we pay our share.” Work undertaken prior to Remembrance Day 2018 has included new facing, removal of graffiti, repointing, concrete repairs, inscription re-rendering, restoration and patching work. Lighting infrastructure has since been installed although the council says that it cannot afford to power the lights. The council has enquired about the cost of purchasing a field for carparking but it is understood the landowner did not wish to sell. Antrim and Newtownabbey has indicated that it received no invoice and therefore no contribution was made. Councillors were advised: “It was agreed in 2015 that Council continued with an ongoing commitment to the maintenance and repair costs of Knockagh Monument, on a shared basis, across the four councils within County Antrim. However, Council received no invoice and therefore no contribution was made during this time.” Mid and East Antrim had not sought payments since the amalgamation of local authorities in 2015. However, Mid and East Antrim DUP Alderman Billy Ashe, a Carrickfergus councillor, said that he would like to see the Knockagh Monument Joint Committee “doing something rather than just gathering subs from people”. “The memorial needs kept up to standard and improved. We still have no carpark facilities. “On the day of Remembrance, we depend on a local farmer opening a field and also depends on the Good Lord sending good weather so cars don’t get stuck in the field.” Ald Ashe suggested that the local authority “looks beyond council” to improve the standard of the monument. He also stated that other councils must contribute financially. “After all, it is the Co Antrim war memorial.” Alliance Councillor Robert Logan said that he was “disappointed” that Belfast City Council was not involved. He added: “There must have been a considerable number of men from Belfast who fell during World War I and World War II. This is an opportunity to approach Belfast City Council again.”
By Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter