UVF gunrunning plaques: Council to carry out equality impact assessment

The SS Clyde Valley was used to transport almost 25,000 rifles during the UVF gunrunning operation in 1914.
The SS Clyde Valley was used to transport almost 25,000 rifles during the UVF gunrunning operation in 1914.

Plaques commemorating the Ulster Volunteer Force gunrunning operation during the Home Rule Crisis in 1914 will be erected at Bangor and Donaghadee harbours, subject to the outcome of an equality impact assessment.

Ards and North Down Borough Council has agreed in principle to erect the Ulster-Scots Agency plaques, but some councillors have voiced concerns about the wording on the commemorative tablets.

The wording details how during Operation Lion “the Ulster Provisional Government accomplished an audacious mission to arm the Ulster Volunteers to defend the Union with Great Britain” and goes on to explain how “the vital cargo of the SS Clyde Valley was delivered at Larne, Bangor and Donaghadee on 24th and 25th April 1914.” Additional wording details the specific events that unfolded at each Co Down location as thousands of rifles were brought ashore.

While the majority of councillors are thought to be happy with the plaques, the Green Party’s Rachel Woods and others have voiced concerns about the use of the terms “audacious mission” and “vital cargo”.

Stressing that she is not against the erection of plaques marking Operation Lion, Cllr Woods said the wording had been “flagged up” as “potentially offensive” during the council’s equality process.

A council spokesperson said the plaques, with their existing wording, will be erected subject to the outcome of the equality impact assessment.