SF war memorial ‘moratorium’

The War Memorial in the Diamond, Derry. DERR3715GS099

The War Memorial in the Diamond, Derry. DERR3715GS099

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Sinn Fein Councillor, Paul Fleming, has called for a “moratorium” on how ratepayers’ money is used to pay for the restoration of the War Memorial at the Diamond.

Colr. Fleming put forward the proposal at the monthly Derry City and Strabane District Council (D.C.S.D.C.) meeting in the Guildhall on Thursday.

It was revealed at a recent Environment and Regeneration Committee that D.C.S.D.C. intends to spend £250,000 on the refurbishment of the local war memorial.

“I am calling for a moratorium on the proposed restoration project at the Diamond War Memorial.

“We have a shared history here but people want to remember in their own different ways and this has to represented right throughout the council area - it’s about putting in place a fair process.”

Colr. Fleming also proposed that a working group should be set-up to look at how ratepayers’ money would be used with regard to war memorials within the council district.

Some unionist councillors expressed concern over Colr. Fleming’s proposal.

“Is Colr. Fleming calling for a complete halt to work at the Diamond War Memorial?,” asked D.U.P. Colr., Alderman David Ramsey.

“The reason I ask this is because the anniversary of the Somme is fast approaching.

“I don’t think it’s too much to ask for the Diamond War Memorial to be cleaned before that date.

“I would also ask Colr. Fleming to think about this because it could impact upon cross-community relations,” added Alderman Ramsey.

Independent Unionist Colr. Maurice Deveney, said he “disappointed” with Colr. Fleming’s proposal.

“The matter of the Diamond War Memorial has been raised by the old council before.

“I am very disappointed with Colr. Fleming’s proposal because every party in this chamber has visited the Diamond War Memorial - including our outgoing Mayor, Sinn Fein Colr. Elisha McCallion and then Speaker of the House and Sinn Fein MLA, Mitchel McLaughlin,” said Alderman Deveney.

D.U.P. Colr. Alderman Graham Warke said the proposal “disgusted” him.

“My great-grandfather’s name is on the Diamond War Memorial and quite frankly I am disgusted at Colr. Fleming’s proposal.

“A few days ago I visited the war memorial to clean off eggs that had been thrown at it.

“Personally, I think the amount of money to be spent on the war memorial should not matter - these men fought and died for the freedom we have today,” said Alderman Warke.

A question put to council officials by Independent Councillor, Paul Gallagher, revealed council doesn’t know if owns the Diamond War Memorial.

“We are currently trying to establish if we own the Diamond War Memorial or not,” said a council official.

Colr. Fleming’s proposal was passed on a vote of 25 for, 10 against and one abstention.