A DUP Councillor’s has been slammed for his criticism of a Republican statue of an “armed terrorist” during a discussion of a cemetery tourism initiative.
Derry DUP Councillor Graham Warke said the statue was offensive to Protestants during a discussion on potential tourism projects at Derry’s historic City Cemetery.
Speaking at the Council’s Business & Culture Committee meeting on Tuesday, various councillors praised the idea of developing cemetery-based tourism and suggested ideas for possible inclusion.
Derry City Cemetery opened in 1853 and is the final resting place of over 70,000 inhabitants from the city including fallen soldiers from both World Wars and those who died during the Troubles.
A local historian has been progressing several City Cemetery-based tourism trail projects, the Council was told.
Alluding to a Republican volunteer monument erected in 2000 by the IRSP, Colr. Warke said people from Protestant backgrounds were being confronted with “a 10ft masked terrorist statue” when they entered the cemetery.
Sinn Fein Councillor Elisha McCallion interjected, saying: “This is ridiculous. You are trying to grandstand on an issue that has nothing to do with the issue of the day.”
Speaking afterwards, Colr. Warke said the cemetery was supposed to be a “shared space” but that Protestant people found the statue “very offensive”. Calling for its removal, he said: “In this time and age now there is no need for a statue of a terrorist with a gun. It is time to move on”.
Speaking at the meeting, Independent Councillor Darren O’Reilly said that he was “glad Alderman Warke doesn’t have a big massive airbrush because there would be nothing left in the west bank”.
Colr. O’Reilly said he had met with the historian. “It’s a great concept,” he said.