No action taken on terror monuments in past five years

A memorial to IRA volunteers was erected in Castlederg in August 2013
A memorial to IRA volunteers was erected in Castlederg in August 2013

No action has been taken by any authorities against republican or loyalist terrorist monuments in the past five years, the Environment Minister has confirmed.

The information was uncovered through an Assembly question by TUV leader Jim Allister.

“In a recent answer to an Assembly question, the Minister for the Environment [Mark H Durkan] advised me that there has not been a single instance of enforcement action against a terrorist memorial in any of the last five years,” said Mr Allister.

“Given that enforcement issues around such structures is now a matter for local councils there is even less chance of action against memorials to terror; memorials which often blight the landscape of Northern Ireland [are normally] in the very areas where terrorists were most brutal.

“This is yet another example of how the feelings of victims are trampled upon in Northern Ireland and how they have been completely failed by a political system which panders to victim makers.”

Mr Allister said he found it “shocking” when it was revealed last month that instead of forcing the removal of an IRA memorial built in Castlederg without planning permission, Planning Service is instead launching an Equality Impact Assessment on the matter.

“The memorial was erected to commemorate local terrorists, including two IRA men who were killed when the bomb they intended for the town mercifully exploded prematurely,” he said.

“The public will remember that the [2013] Sinn Fein/IRA parade to mark the erection of the memorial was cited as the reason for the DUP withdrawal of support for the IRA shrine at the Maze.

“It is obvious that there is no will to act and remove this insult to innocent victims as it has dragged on for years. This is merely the latest fudge to excuse lack of action in enforcing planning law which would bind any ordinary member of the public who chose to erect an illegal structure.”

Mr Durkan told Mr Allister that no formal enforcement action - in the form of enforcement notices - has been undertaken in respect of unauthorised monuments/memorials/statues in the last five years, up to June 2015.

From April 1, 2015 enforcement responsibilty for such monuments passed to councils, he added.