Council still to decide on Easter Rising memorial in Carnlough
A COUNCIL has yet to decide whether to allow an Easter Rising memorial stone it removed almost a year ago from a Co Antrim village to be reinstated.
The 3ft stone in Carnlough was removed by Mid and East Antrim Council after being erected on its land without permission.
An extensive consultation process - involving newspaper ads, public notices and letters to all 563 households in the village - was launched in December asking whether the memorial should return.
Inscribed with the dates 1916 and 2016, it was erected to commemorate the centenary of the Dublin rising against British rule.
The stone was removed overnight last June amid criticism from unionists who branded it "provocative".
The proposal is for a replica to be placed at the same site at Hurry Head.
Sinn Féin councillor James McKeown questioned the time taken to make a decision, saying that consultation responses from residents in January were "overwhelmingly in favour" of the memorial.
He claimed that the issue was to be considered before the assembly election, but was postponed as some regarded it as "politically sensitive".
"It has to be dealt with sooner rather than later," he said.
"I'm very disappointed. People locally thought it should have been dealt with a considerable time ago. People are wondering what the hold-up is. There is absolutely no reason for any more delay on it."
Residents were given a further opportunity last month to meet with an official to discuss the memorial.
Mr McKeown said he had requested this to allow more people to give their views, but insisted: "The consultation is finished."
He added: "The consultation sent out to residents in Carnlough had to be returned by the beginning of January and the results of that are overwhelmingly in favour."
However, a Mid and East Antrim council spokesman said the consultation exercise is "ongoing".
"The most recent stage of this process, during which members of the public were invited to discuss the issue, was March 22," he said.
"Council's equality working group, which is made up of cross-party representation, will have to meet to consider the results of the current consultation, prior to making any decision/recommendation to full council.
"A report is in the process of being compiled."
The old Larne Borough Council previously faced criticism after a large metal crown was installed without planning permission on a roundabout 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.