Derry City & Strabane District Council is giving “consideration” to what, if any, action should be taken over the erection of billboards calling for the release of local republican, Tony Taylor, which have been emblazoned with the local authority’s corporate logo.
The matter was raised by DUP Alderman Hilary McClintock after the ‘Free Tony Taylor’ signage appeared on a number of roundabouts and traffic islands in the city.
Mr. Taylor, whose licence was revoked by the former Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, in 2016, will have spent two years in prison on Saturday. Images of the billboards being erected by men wearing what appears to have been council-issue fluorescent vests had already sparked controversy when posted on social media. At Tuesday’s meeting of the Council’s Governance & Strategic Planning Committee, Ald. McClintock asked Chief Executive, John Kelpie, what action was being taken. He replied that “consideration was being given to a range of matters” but said it would be inappropriate to be drawn further at this stage.
UUP Ald. Derek Hussey said he was “slightly disappointed action has not been taken already”, suggesting that the council’s logo was subject to copyright and, as such, legally protected from misuse.
Independent Colr. Gary Donnelly said those who had erected the placards should be commended for raising the “terrible injustice” of Mr. Taylor’s continued incarceration. He said he would be concerned if ratepayers’ money was used to remove them.
DUP Ald. David Ramsey, said those behind the posters were giving “two fingers to the council” and said the PSNI should remove the installation. The committee, however, backed a proposal by SDLP Colr. Brian Tierney, that officers explore all the relevant issues and options available and bring back a report to members.