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Castlederg memorial still being investigated two years on

The memorial was unveiled in 2013 during a controversial republican parade in Castlederg, Co Tyrone
Brendan Hughes

A REPUBLICAN memorial in Co Tyrone is still being investigated by planners almost two years after it was built without planning permission.

The monument in Castlederg honours republicans who have died including two IRA men killed when a bomb they were transporting exploded prematurely in 1973.

It was unveiled in August 2013 during a contentious 'Tyrone Volunteers Day' parade commemorating the IRA men and other republicans who died during the Troubles.

The high-profile march and the memorial's construction sparked fury from unionists and IRA victims' families.

Planning officials launched a probe into the Hillview estate monument after it emerged it was built on Housing Executive land without its consent and with no planning approval.

The Department of the Environment transferred planning powers to the north's 11 new councils earlier this year as part of reforms to local government.

A Derry City and Strabane District Council spokeswoman said planning officials will "review and consider the issues".

But the council refused to say if planners have established whether the memorial required planning approval or whether enforcement action is being pursued.

Meanwhile, planning probes into two Housing Executive (NIHE) loyalist monuments in south Belfast were concluded within several months.

UUP West Tyrone MLA Ross Hussey said it is a "source of deep frustration and anger" that no decision has been made on the memorial in Castlederg.

"It is clear the memorial needs to be removed. For this debacle to still be dragging on two years later is a disgrace," he said.

"We need to see movement here. There have been decisions reached on memorials erected by loyalists so we need to see that there is also zero tolerance when they are erected by republicans."

NIHE met with residents to express concern but said removing memorials was a "complex and sensitive matter".

A spokeswoman said: "We are continuing to work with those who live on the estate, their representatives and other agencies to look at an alternative use of this space."

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