Removal of Easter Rising memorial in Carnlough was ‘PR disaster’ for council

The Easter Rising Memorial in Carnlough prior to its removal.  INLT 25-654-CON
The Easter Rising Memorial in Carnlough prior to its removal. INLT 25-654-CON

Mid and East Antrim Council’s removal of an Easter Rising memorial in Carnlough has been branded a “PR disaster” .

The monument – which had been erected on council-owned property without permission – was described as “illegal” and “provocative” by unionists.

There was huge upset in the village after the council employed a contractor to take the structure away, with Sinn Fein MLA Oliver McMullan calling the move “shameful and disrespectful”.

Mr McMullan and his party colleague, Councillor James McKeown, are now calling for the memorial to be restored and intend to put their case to the council’s chief executive, Anne Donaghy.

A council spokesperson confirmed that a private meeting is being arranged with the chief executive and “a small number of the Carnlough community”.

Cllr James McKeown said the council’s handling of the situation had been a “PR disaster”, adding: “Their actions have set community relations in Carnlough back quite a bit.

“A lot of tricolours were erected in the village in response to the removal of the memorial, and while the majority have since been taken down, there is still an awful lot of anger in the community.

“But we want to have meaningful discussions with the council to see if we can get a positive outcome.

“Our objective will be to get the memorial restored, and we are looking at options for how we can achieve that.

“Lodging an application with the council to have the memorial reinstated is a road we may consider going down.”

Meanwhile, Mr McMullan told the Times: “The actions of the council have caused considerable hurt and anger in the village and community relations are at an all-time low.

“There is still a lot of ill-feeling in the village and I think the community deserved better than to be treated in this way. This issue is not going away.”

East Antrim DUP MLA Gordon Lyons said the council’s decision to remove the unofficial memorial was “justified”.

He added: “If an application is put forward to reinstate this memorial, I have no doubt the council will be asking a number of pertinent questions, such as whether the structure is likely to be contentious or disrupt community relations in Carnlough.”