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Easter Rising memorial in Carnlough removed by council

The 1916 Easter Rising memorial was unveiled in March. Picture by Hugh Russell

NATIONALIST politicians have hit out after a 1916 Easter Rising monument without planning permission was removed by the council in the "dead of the night".

It is understood Mid and East Antrim Borough Council employed a contractor to remove the controversial memorial close to Carnlough Harbour.

Unionists had criticised the memorial, branding it "provocative" after it was erected without planning permission in March.

The structure was unveiled at Hurry Head in the Co Antrim village along with a temporary flag pole bearing the tricolour.

Sinn Féin and SDLP representatives last night criticised the removal of the structure, describing the actions of the council as a "shameful and disrespectful act".

Sinn Féin MLA, Oliver McMullan said the "forcible removable" of the memorial had caused "considerable hurt and anger" in the village.

"This monument in Carnlough was erected earlier this year, like hundreds of others across Ireland, to mark the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising," he said.

"Mid and East Antrim Council confirmed today they have removed the memorial, claiming it had not received council approval.

"This is a shameful and disrespectful and one-sided act.

"There are loyalist memorials dotted throughout the council area. We are simply asking that all memorials should be respected and treated equally.

"This action has caused considerable hurt and anger in the Carnlough area.

SDLP councillor Declan O'Loan said the council's actions were "hypocritical", highlighting the "plethora of huge paramilitary murals" throughout the district.

He said he did "not support the erection of any memorial on public property without authorisation" but breaches of planning rules required "sensitivity and patience"

"The council action was hasty. The public sees a plethora of huge paramilitary murals in very prominent locations across Mid and East Antrim.

"All sorts of loyalist flags hang in their hundreds with impunity.

"The hypocrisy of the situation is obvious, and it makes the nationalist community very angry."

He added: "Acting in the dead of the night shows that the council knew very well the resentment there would be towards its action, even from those who had nothing to do with the memorial".

A council spokeswoman last night said: "Following the unauthorised erection of a memorial on council owned land in Carnlough, council directed that arrangements were to be made for its removal.

"Mid and East Antrim Borough Council can confirm that the memorial was removed this morning."

Larne Borough Council were previously criticised after a large metal crown was installed without planning permission on a roundabout in the borough in honour of Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

The structure was erected using £13,000 of ratepayers' money on the Circular Road roundabout with the council later applying for retrospective planning permission.

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