'The battle of the boxes' continued this week as Strabane councillor's voted to overrule a proposal by UUP Councillor Derek Hussey urging Royal Mail to repaint the town's 'green' post boxes to their original colour.
Councillor Hussey’s proposal for a letter to be sent from Strabane District Council to Royal Mail urging them to repaint all green post boxes red, was rubbished by the chamber’s majority nationalist vote at Tuesday night’s Strabane District Council meeting.
“Are we as councillor’s going to let these people get away with vandalism?” Colr. Hussey asked his fellow councillors. However, a majority vote held that there was “no need” to send a letter to Royal Mail as it was not considered as vandalism.
Jarlath McNulty, Sinn Fein Chairman of Strabane District Council, added that the post boxes would be repainted “in time” as part of Royal Mail’s maintenance programme.
Meanwhile, fellow party colleague, Gerard Foley said that people were “happy enough” with the green coloured post boxes, saying: “I think they’ve done a good job with them.”
It is understood that hundreds of Royal Mail boxes in Derry, Strabane and West Tyrone have been changing colour as part of a strategy by gra Shinn Fin, Sinn Fein’s youth wing.
The campaign has especially high visibility on many home pages of young people on the social networking website Bebo.
Asked if it was part of a campaign to divert young republicans from dissident activity, Sinn Fein MLA Barry McElduff said: "Young people need to be encouraged when they make political statements in a peaceful and political manner. As many as 50 post boxes have been painted in Tyrone in the past month. It is ironic that in Lifford post boxes are green but in Tyrone, only one mile away, they are red. This is about blurring the border."
A Royal Mail spokesman declined to comment on the scale or cost of the problem.
"Repairs to letter boxes, which include repainting, will be carried out as part of our ongoing maintenance programme," he added.