Belfast City Council is looking into a newly built brick and concrete memorial plaza around a Housing Association gable wall in Belfast’s Hopewell Avenue.
It is considering whether enforcement action, like ordering its removal, may be required under planning laws.
The wall recently had a fresh mural of Stephen McKeag painted on it.
McKeag was a member of Johnny Adair’s so-called C Company of the UDA/UFF and journalist Henry McDonald, co-author of a history of the UDA, has cited police sources as attributing “at least 12” deaths to him.
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When the News Letter reported on the memorial on September 26, the council said no permission was sought for any work.
But although the paintwork mural is a “permitted development” which needs no consent, the plaza could breach planning rules.
Asked last week if it had reached a decision on this yet, the council said that “an enforcement case has been opened”.
This does not mean there has definitely been a breach of planning rules, but rather that the council is considering that as a possibility.
The council added: “Enforcement action, should it be appropriate in this case, is often a long and complex process and lengthy periods of time can be involved before a case is satisfactorily resolved.”
As well as looking in to the case of the McKeag tribute plaza, the News Letter has also investigated other aspects of the planning system for a news feature published in Monday’s paper.
It includes the discovery that only a tiny fraction of alleged planning breaches (such as wrecking listed buildings) are ever pursued through the courts – and even fewer result in a meaningful fine – see full story here.
In addition, it now looks like it will be May next year before an unauthorised industrial facility is finally demolished – 10 years after enforcement action was taken, and only as part of a deal allowing a new factory to be built in its stead.