Factory sculpture ‘strangled’

Brenda Stevenson (SDLP)
Brenda Stevenson (SDLP)

Plans to erect a sculpture to celebrate Derry’s shirt factory history have been “strangled by government bureaucracy,” a local councillor has said.

SDLP councillor Brenda Stevenson, chair of Derry City Council’s development committee, made the comment during an update on the planned ‘Factory Girls’ sculpture at a meeting this week.

Plans to erect the statue, designed to elebrate the role of local women in the shirt factory industry, have been discussed for several years but the process has been hit by a number of setbacks.

It has been planed to erect the sculpture at King Street Roundabout in the Waterside but it is now planned, with revised designs, for the rear of the Guildhall.

Discussions are currently taking place between Derry City Council and the Department of Social Development to resolve the impasse.

A meeting was held on Tuesday morning at which officials from Council and DSD were present, along with councillors and Maeve McLaughlin MLA.

Speaking at a meeting of the development committee on Tuesday afternoon, colr. Stevenson said; “This delay is absolutely disgraceful. We have been back and forward on this so many times.

“It has been strangled by government bureaucracy. Two years ago we were told it would be ready by 2013 but here we are still in the same position.

“It is deeply disappointing,. Government needs to get a clear message from us that this is not appreciated,” she said.

Sinn Féin councillor Eric McGinley said; “There is a clear sense of frustration over this, particularly from the artist herself. It is important to remember that DSD commissioned this project in the first place. It has bene tied up in red tape ever since. There is an imperative on DSD to do everything it can to clear away any remaining obstacles and it is incumbent on Council to made sure DSD lives up to its responsibilities.

“We need to make sure that all agencies involved in this project step up to the plate,” he said.

DUP alderman Drew Thompson said; “This is an important issue for everyone in the city.”