A Derry sculptor’s controversial memorial to the Ulster Defence Force has been unveiled in Lisburn.
The bronze memorial of a UDR soldier and a Greenfinch - created by internationally renowned Derry born sculptor John Sherlock - has been erected in Market Square Lisburn in memory of the 50,000 men and women who served in the regiment.
Despite opposition from nationalists and republicans at the siting of the memorial, there were no protests at Sunday’s unveiling ceremony.
The Whiteabbey-based Mr Sherlock - a native of Marlborough Avenue in Derry - was commissioned by the UDR Memorial Trust to design and create the tribute. He was among the guests of honour at the dedication service.
Surrounded by well-wishers congratulating him on the realism of the bronze figures, Mr Sherlock said he was proud of the work and felt privileged to have been involved.
“It was an honour to asked to do the sculpture and I know how important this has been to everyone connected with the regiment,” he said.
Mr Sherlock said he had been given a great reception in Lisburn.
“Everyone seems to be delighted with the sculpture and I regard it as the pinnacle of my career. It is a deserving tribute to a very worthy and amazing group of men and women.
The nineteen feet high memorial was unveiled by Viscount Brookeborough, followed by a service of dedication led by former Church of Ireland Primate Robin Eames.
Viscount Brookeborough, himself a former UDR soldier, said it was a “fitting tribute” to those who served in the regiment.
Councillor Ronnie Crawford, a former UDR soldier whose brother Maynard was the sixth member of the regiment to be killed in the Troubles in January 1972, said he was “overwhelmed” by both the scale of the statue.
Lagan Valley DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson, himself a former UDR corporal, said he was proud to have the sculpture erected in Lisburn.
However, Sinn Fein councillor Angela Nelson said her party’s constituency office had been inundated with calls by people angered at the memorial.
“People in the Protestant community may wish to thank the UDR but it has been looked on as a bigoted force by nationalists, which was proven in the killings of Catholics by members of the UDR,” the Sinn Fein councillor said.