Revised proposals for Derry’s Factory Girls statue have been submitted amid warnings that delays to the project are causing widespread frustration.
Foyle MLA, Maeve McLaughlin, issued the warning after proposals to move the project just north of its planned site to the rear of the Guildhall were sumbitted last Friday.
Ms. McLaughlin said the move followed concerns she said were raised by the Environment Agency over the visual impact of the sculpture on the Guildhall and Harbour House building.
Ms McLaughlin said she was now hopeful the projectwill progress, but queried why it has taken until 2015 for these concerns to be aired, long after multi-agency talks and meetings started back in 2013. Ms. McLaughlin added that there was a lot of public anger that after 10 years the sculpture is still not erected.
“There is huge public expectation of this work, particularly fomthe factory workers themselves. The process has taken 10 years and people are confused by all the delays and obstacles. For those women who have engaged in this process it’s just an insult.
“I have never seen a process so delayed by obstacle after obstacle and challenge after challenge’.”
She said the artist, Louise Walsh, who was in Derry last week, has met every challenge over the years. She also called on the Environment Minister Mark H.Durkan to give an indication of his support..
Responding, Mr. Durkan said he very much supported the project and clarified that no actual planning application has been brought before his department.
Mr Durkan said: “The principle of the proposal was discussed with my officials in 2013 and again in 2015. Any planning application for this project will now be for Derry City and Strabane District Council to consider.”
He added: “Ms McLaughlin needs to recognise that she doesn’t have a monopoly on concern to have a tribute to remember the thousands of factory girls, who for so long were the heartbeat and lifeblood of Derry city.
“My own family, like so many Derry families, is steeped in shirt factory culture and I, like many others, am fully committed to seeing this project through.”
A spokesperson for Derry City and Strabane District Council meanwhile confirmed that further information has been received by Planning as part of the ongoing Pre-Application Discussion process.