Factory Girls sculpture delay ‘hard to believe’

Sinn Fein MLA for Foyle, Maeve McLaughlin (pictured above), has described the delay in the development of the Factory Girls sculpture as 'unacceptable'.
Sinn Fein MLA for Foyle, Maeve McLaughlin (pictured above), has described the delay in the development of the Factory Girls sculpture as 'unacceptable'.

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Maeve McLaughlin has called on Derry City and Strabane Council to submit a planning application for the Factory Girls sculpture.

The Foyle MLA expressed frustration over the delay of the project and said the time had come to deliver on something that aims to celebrate Derry’s hard working factory girls.

“It’s hard to believe that this process is over 10 years old,” Ms McLaughlin told the ‘Journal’.

“There have been sufficient discussion and obstacles that in my view have been overcome.

“I find it unacceptable that this process to remember the role that Derry women played in our city has taken this length of time.

“It’s dragged on for far too long so we need to move this to the next stage,” she added.

Derry’s factory girls are an important part of the city’s history.

As a result of high unemployment, Derry’s factory girls were more often than not the sole bread winners in their families.

Derry was synonymous with the shirt-making industry which provided employment for thousands of women and girls all over the city.

However, due to globalisation, the local shirt manufacturing industry soon began to suffer and many of Derry’s shirt factories lie empty, have been demolished or have been developed and modernised as business premises.

In recent years, books, poems and plays have been written about Derry’s factory girls and it’s because of this that Ms McLaughlin believes a permanent structure in the guise of a sculpture would be the next logical step to celebrating a particular time in Derry’s history.

“Let’s make 2016 the year when we see this legacy to an important piece of our city’s history clearly marked in front of the Guildhall,” she said.

Renowned Cork artist Louise Walsh was commissioned by the Department for Social Development to take the Factory Girls public art project forward back in 2006 and worked together successfully with local women on developing it.