Council spends £1,000 on Easter Rising memorial consultation
A COUNCIL has so far spent more than £1,000 on a consultation process on whether to reinstate a 3ft memorial commemorating the Easter Rising.
The original stone memorial in Carnlough was removed a year ago by Mid and East Antrim council after being erected on its land without permission.
An extensive consultation exercise – involving newspaper ads, public notices and letters to all 563 households in the village – was launched in December asking whether it should return.
But around six months since the consultation began, the council has yet to make a decision.
It has now emerged that the process has so far cost £1,021.53 of ratepayers' cash, including £250 on newspaper ads, £556 on printing and £215 on postage costs.
However, the figure is expected to increase as the council has not disclosed the cost of public meetings and recruiting an academic to help with the consultation.
The costs were revealed to The Irish News in a freedom of information request.
Inscribed with the dates 1916 and 2016, the memorial was erected to commemorate the centenary of the rebellion against British rule.
It was removed overnight in June last year amid criticism from unionists who branded it "provocative".
The proposal is for a replica of the removed stone to be placed at the same site at Hurry Head.
Sinn Féin councillor James McKeown criticised the local authority for the cost of the consultation and delays in making a decision.
"The general feeling is that they just don't want to deal with it," he said.
"I think it is ridiculous that ratepayers' money has been spent on something that really could have been sorted out without having to go to that expense."
Mid and East Antrim council has said the consultation exercise is "ongoing" and that its equality working group will meet to consider the results before making a recommendation to full council.
The old Larne Borough Council previously faced criticism after a large metal crown was installed without planning permission on a roundabout to mark 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.