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Council orders removal of Virgin Mary statue near goldmine in Co Tyrone

A council has ordered the removal of a statue of the Virgin Mary in Co Tyrone
Connla Young

A COUNCIL has ordered the removal of a statue of the Virgin Mary put up on land close to a planned goldmine in Co Tyrone.

The 8ft high statue and plinth was placed in an isolated part of Greencastle in Co Tyrone in April 2017.

It is located on land close to where Canadian firm Dalradian Gold wants to open a mine and build a processing plant which will use cyanide to extract the precious metal from ore mined in the area.

It also stands close to a Mass rock where the mining firm previously refused to allow a Catholic service to be held at the site.

Some residents in the area have objected to the mining plan on health and environmental grounds amid fear that if it goes ahead the ancient Mass rock could end up submerged in a pond.

Dalradian however have insisted the process is safe.

In a statement issued last night Fermanagh and Omagh District Council said enforcement action has been launched.

“An Enforcement Notice was issued on the 31st August 2017 and has taken effect on the 6th October 2017,” she said.

“The notice requires the removal of the statue.”

Sources in the area say that the notice was served on the landowner although it is not thought they were responsible for placing the statue on the land.

Despite the notice being served more than a year ago it remains in place.

“At this stage it is not appropriate for the council to comment on the progress of any legal action for the failure to comply with the notice," the spokeswoman said.

She also confirmed that no complaints were received "regarding the statue".

A spokesman for campaign group Greencastle Community Voices last night said the people in the area are “dismayed” by the development and vowed to hold protests at the council's offices.

It is understood the council is also investigating two caravans located nearby which are used by campaigners.

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