Northern Ireland news

Council withdraws motion to honour Coleraine man over his links to slavery

Hercules Mulligan was regarded as a revolutionary figure in the United States

COUNCILLORS have withdrawn a motion to honour a Coleraine man over his links to slavery.

A committee on Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council had last month voted in favour of a tribute to Hercules Mulligan, who was regarded as a revolutionary figure in the United States.

Born in Coleraine in 1740, his family emigrated to North America six years later. He was an Irish-American tailor and spy during the American Revolutionary War and is said to have saved US President George Washington's life on two occasions.

But a number of multi-cultural groups objected to the move over his past as a slave owner.

On Tuesday, Alliance councillor Yvonne Boyle called for the motion to be withdrawn after 18 community groups, including the North West Migrants Forum and Belfast Multicultural Association, wrote to the council to say they "strongly condemned" the move to honour him.

Ms Boyle, who had brought the original motion to the council with the suggestion of erecting a blue plaque, said the proposal had originally been brought forward "in good faith".

"Further details of his slave owning have emerged subsequently which were not in the public domain at the time. I have met with various groups since then and explained that in person," she said.

Following the withdrawal of the motion, an amendment for Mulligan to me recognised through future heritage trails, which was voted in favour by a majority of councillors.

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