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Consultation on blocked Easter Rising memorial cost £1,650

The Easter Rising centenary stone erected in Carnlough last year. Picture by Hugh Russell
Brendan Hughes

A YEAR-long consultation on proposals for an Easter Rising memorial that were later blocked by unionists cost ratepayers more than £1,650.

The 3ft stone in Carnlough, Co Antrim, was removed in June 2016 by council workers after being erected on its land without permission.

An extensive consultation exercise – involving newspaper ads, letters to all 563 households in the village, and employing an academic – was launched last December asking whether the memorial should return.

It's understood around 75 per cent of responses expressed support for some sort of replacement memorial.

However, a DUP proposal not to proceed was backed earlier this month by 26 council votes to four, with three abstentions.

There were heated exchanges in the Mid and East Antrim council chamber as the matter was debated and eventually voted down.

Sinn Féin councillor James McKeown branded it an "atrocious decision" and a "perfect example of unionist domination" on the council.

But DUP councillor Gregg McKeen said he believed there was "no appetite" for a replacement memorial, insisting that the consultation outcome "would have been different if there had been a bigger response".

Mid and East Antrim council previously confirmed it spent £250 on newspaper ads, £556.06 on print costs and £215.47 on postage costs for the consultation.

But in response to a further Freedom of Information request from The Irish News, the council has now confirmed an additional £630 was paid to an academic as part of the consultation process.

Inscribed with the dates 1916 and 2016, the memorial was erected to commemorate the centenary of the Dublin rebellion against British rule.

It was removed overnight in June last year amid criticism from unionists who branded it "provocative". The removal of the memorial itself cost £750.

Council mayor Paul Reid earlier this month said the decision not to proceed any further with the application for the proposed memorial was "made in line with the policy framework".

Mid and East Antrim council said the application for a new memorial was "considered under the Commemorations and Memorials Framework".

"All comments and information gathered through the consultation process have been collated and presented to the equality working group by the independent expert," a spokesman added.

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