Northern Ireland news

Council that ordered removal of Virgin Mary statue branded 'foolish'

A council decision to order the removal of a statue of the Virgin Mary has been branded 'foolish'
Connla Young

A council which has ordered the removal of a statue of the Virgin Mary in Co Tyrone has been branded “foolish”.

The Irish News revealed yesterday that Fermanagh and Omagh District Council has launched enforcement action ordering the removal of the blessed statue.

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

The firm has previously refused to allow a Catholic service at the site of a historic Mass rock, which is nearby.

Some residents in the area have objected to the mining plan on health and environmental grounds.

Dalradian have insisted the process is safe.

In a statement issued last night Fermanagh and Omagh District Council said enforcement notice was issued last August.

“The notice requires the removal of the statue,” it said.

The council said it is not appropriate to comment "on the progress of any legal action for the failure to comply with the notice".

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.

SDLP councillor Rosemarie Shields was last night critical of the move.

“I am stunned, I think the council action is very foolish, they are not taking into account local opinion at all,” she said.

“I know they say they have a legal duty but there was no complaint and they still have discretion and it’s definitely not expedient or wise to enforce this.”

Sinn Féin councillor Sean Clarke said: “I would not like to see any statue removed and there’s a process that we have to go through,” he said.

Tyrone AOH president Gerry McGeough condemned the statue move and said “no Tyrone Catholic will ever lift a finger against her”.

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