Storm over ‘illegal’ 1916 memorial

Complaints have been made about a massive memorial to 1916 which is being built on the outskirts of Lurgan’s LurganTarry estate.

The structure which has eight pillars is being built by Republican Sinn Fein to commemorate those who died in the Easter Rising and since.

Work continues at a memorial in Lurgan to commemorate 1916

Work continues at a memorial in Lurgan to commemorate 1916

In the shadow of St Ronan’s College, the memorial is being built on communal grassland owned by the NI Housing Executive.

However, complaints have been made to the NIHE about the memorial. And the NI Housing Executive has confirmed it hasn’t given permission for the structure.

Plus a spokesperson for Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council confirmed that no planning permission has been sought or approved for the site.

A spokesperson for Republican Sinn Fein said the memorial is being erected in memory of Edward Costello, a Lurgan man who died during the Easter Rising of 1916.

He was a native of Castle Lane but had went to Dublin for work and joined the Irish Citizen Army in 1915.

The Thomas Harte Cumann RSF spokesperson said the monument is in memory of Mr Costello and ‘all those who died as a direct result of British occupation in Ireland’.

He explained that the party had been organising fundraisers and organised a local lottery to raise money to build the memorial.

They had carried out door to door collections, he said, and no one had voiced any concern about erecting the monument.

He said thousands of pounds had been raised but the party had ‘never encountered any objection’.

The spokesperson admitted that no planning permission had been sought for the memorial.

When asked if the party would be willing to remove it, if asked by the authorities, he said no and asked: “Why don’t they remove all those illegal memorials in Mourneview?”

A spokesperson from the Housing Executive said: “We can confirm the memorial is on Housing Executive land. It has recently been built without planning permission or the approval of the Housing Executive. We have never been asked for permission and would not have supported a memorial of this nature.

“The local Housing Executive office was made aware of the memorial being built on our land approximately a month ago.

“The replacement or removal of symbols such as murals and memorials is a complex and sensitive matter. No one, single agency can work on its own to do this. It needs a number of agencies and bodies to work together, as well as involving the public and relevant communities.

“To this end we will continue to work with those who live on our estates, their representatives and other agencies to look at an alternative use for these spaces.”

Last night in a further statement a spokesperson for Thomas Harte Cumann, RSF, North Armagh said it “has undertaken a huge project to erect a memorial garden as a fitting tribute to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of Irish freedom over the past 100 years.

“Our members have for the last year collected funds week in week out, in the form of our monthly lotto from the good people of Lurgan and Craigavon, to make this project possible to coincide with this year’s 1916 centenary. Work has now commenced on the site which has been carefully chosen on reclaimed land which previously had garages on it.

“Our members are working hard and tirelessly to have it completed in time for the Easter Week centenary anniversary.

“The aim of the Thomas Harte Cumann RSF is to pay tribute to all men and women who fought and died for Ireland. The main focal point of this is on Edward Costello from Church Place in Lurgan. While working in Dublin he joined the Irish Volunteers in 1915. He was mobilised on April 24, 1916 and took part in the Easter Rising. He received a fatal bullet wound to his head on April 25, 1916 and later died in Jervis Street Hospital, Dublin. He was only 27 years old. “We hope that the completion of this memorial garden will go some way in honouring Ireland’s patriot dead.”