Lurgan memorial to terrorism must be pulled down

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Morning View

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There are two separate problems with the monument in Lurgan that is being constructed by Republican Sinn Fein (RSF).

The first is that it commemorates terrorism.

The second is that it does not, according to reports, have planning permission.

These are two quite separate problems but they are problems that recur in their own spheres elsewhere.

Terrorist memorials are not uncommon and are cropping up in numerous places. It is not a huge surprise that this is so. After all, we are told that the RSF structure is to remember “all those who died as a result of British occupation in Ireland”.

This is a clever choice of wording on the eve of the centenary of 1916. Almost the entirety of the Republic of Ireland now celebrates the 1916 Rising as if it was an unequivocally good thing which had widespread support. In fact it had minority support until the British executed many of the people who had been involved, which triggered such a wave of revulsion as to lead to independence within five years.

Gradually, subsequent republican campaigns have been glorified. There is now a subtle but far reaching attempt to justify the Provisional IRA campaign, and groups like the RSF are trying to bring all such violence, up to and including current dissidents, under the same category of heroic resistance.

This will only gather pace as the coming legacy inquests finds state wrongdoing in Troubles deaths, implying that terrorism was in fact freedom fighting against such brutality.

The planning problem is a different one. Enforcement in Northern Ireland of unauthorised structures has been weak, at times even woeful. Rarely ever is anything that is put up without permission pulled down by the authorities, as would happen in England or France or many countries.

In the case of this memorial, there needs to be proper enforcement. The memorial glorifies terrorism and should not be given permission, even if applied for retrospectively. And in the absence of permission, it must be pulled down.