Northern Ireland news

Sinn Féin claim WWI 'Ghost Tommies' show 'total disregard' for nationalists

Sinn Féin councillor James McKeown says he has received complaints about a 'Ghost Tommy' put up in a mixed area of Co Antrim
Connla Young

SINN Féin has accused a Co Antrim council of showing “a total disregard” for nationalists after a memorial to dead British soldiers was put up in a mixed area.

Earlier this year Mid and East Antrim Borough Council backed a plan to erect a series of ‘Ghost Tommy’ figures across the district.

The artwork includes a silhouette of a First World War British soldier.

Mid and East Antrim Sinn Féin councillor James McKeown last night said he received complaints after a Ghost Tommy was put up in the Cairncastle area, which is between Larne and Glenarm.

“A number of people who have contacted me are very unhappy there has been no consultation with the local community about putting this up in such a mixed area,” he said.

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Controversy has surrounded the erection of memorials in the borough in the past.

In 2016, workers removed a 3ft memorial put on council land without permission to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising in the mainly nationalist village of Carnlough. At the time unionists criticised the memorial.

Mr McKeown last night said: “There seems to be one law for unionists who wish to commemorate their war dead and one rule for nationalists.”

“Not for the first time the council has shown a total disregard for anything from the Irish perspective, nationalists’ perspective.”

The Tommy figures are being promoted by the charity Remembered as part of its ‘there but not there campaign’.

It is understood Mid and East Antrim council bought four of the 6ft aluminium figures at a cost of £750 each.

DUP councillor Billy Ashe said: “Back in April, elected members agreed a motion, without objection, for the erection of Ghost Tommies in Mid and East Antrim.

“These six-foot metal silhouettes are tributes to all of those who lost their lives during the First World War, including thousands from across the island of Ireland.”

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