Tyrone priest 'disappointed' by council approach to Virgin Mary statue

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

A CO Tyrone based priest has said he is “disappointed” after a council ordered the removal of a statue of the Virgin Mary which was put up close to a planned goldmine.

Fr Edward Gallagher spoke out after it emerged that Fermanagh and Omagh District Council has launched enforcement action to have the statue removed.

Standing 8ft high on a plinth the statue, which is believed to have been put up without planning permission, was placed in an area known as Crockanboy Hill, Greencastle, in April last year.

It is located on land close to where Canadian firm Dalradian Gold wants to open a mine and build a processing plant.

The statue stands a few metres from a Mass rock where the mining firm previously refused to allow a Catholic service to be held.

Read more: Council that ordered removal of Virgin Mary statue branded 'foolish'

Greencastle parish priest Fr Edward Gallagher said: “I’m very disappointed that Fermanagh and Omagh District Council think it is a priority that a statue of the blessed Virgin Mary should be removed from the middle of the field at Crockanboy Hill,” he said.

“I hope the council, its officers, and other government agencies put the same time and energy into investigating those who plan on that same field a processing plant for a gold mine which includes the worrying use of cyanide,” he told the Irish Catholic.

Some residents object to the mining plan on health and environmental grounds while others fear that if the processing plant goes ahead the ancient Mass rock could be swallowed up in the pond.

Dalradian have insisted the process is safe.

Fr Gallagher said there are different levels of concern in the community.

“Many perceive this development as a threat to life and the environment rather than a threat to Faith,” he said.

The council has previously said an enforcement notice took effect in October last year which requires the removal of the statue.

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