DUP slam plans for republican monument in Magherafelt

Artists impression of plans submitted by republicans for a five-metre high memorial to mark the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising in Magherafelt
Connla Young

UNIONISTS in Mid Ulster have criticised plans to build a memorial dedicated to the 1916 Easter Rising just yards from the proposed site of a British army monument in a majority nationalist Co Derry town.

Co Derry and Antrim Republican Graves Association want to place a life-size statue of executed Easter Rising leader Padraig Pearse reading from the proclamation in the middle of Magherafelt.

The proposal includes standing the statue on a granite plinth reaching five metres high in the middle of Broad Street - the town’s main thoroughfare.

It is believed to be the first time republicans have sought permission to build a memorial of this kind in the centre of a main town in the north.

If successful it will sit just yards from where the Royal British Legion (RBL) has said it wants to build a monument dedicated to British soldiers killed in both world wars.

Dozens of objections to the British army monument have been lodged with planners.

However, unionists night slammed the 1916 monument plans on Tuesday night.

DUP group leader at Mid Ulster District Council Paul McLean accused republicans of “undermining the whole process”.

“The situation is there is no comparison between the two monuments,” he said.

“One is clearly a world war one and two monument to both traditions who fought side by side.

“The other is an Irish rebellion and they cannot be considered (to be) on the same playing field.”

Mr McLean said he believed those behind the proposal “were expecting the British legion would pull” their application and that the 1916 plan was being “spurred” by republicans.

Asked if it will support the planned republican monument a spokesman for the SDLP said the party will meet later this week “to discuss this and other matters”.

The party has previously said it supports the construction of the RBL memorial.

Sinn Féin has described the 1916 proposal as “exciting” but has so far declined to comment on the RBL plan.

Co Derry and Antrim Republican Graves Association maintains republican graves and monuments and organises commemorations throughout both counties.

The Irish News revealed last week that a planning application for the memorial says it is “being erected to commemorate the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising and those who died fighting for Irish freedom”.

There are also plans to include two flagpoles and lighting at the site.

During the Rising dozens of Irish Volunteers from across south Derry made their way to Coalisland before being told to return home.

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