Irwin says no to republican monument refurbishment

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Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Irwin believes the republican monument would upset victims of the IRA

Newry and Armagh DUP Assemblyman Councillor William Irwin MLA has raised concerns over the position adopted by the Agriculture Minister on an application for Rural Development Funding. The application, which has been lodged through the Southern Organisation for Action in Rural Areas (SOAR), seeks to attract funding to refurbish and upgrade a republican monument in Crossmaglen square. Speaking to Newry Times, Irwin expressed his concern that DARD officials have deemed the application as eligible for consideration and also that the Minister should use her position to “publicly endorse” an application. He stated, “This application has – by the looks of it – been deemed as eligible to be considered for funding under the terms and conditions of the Rural Development Programme. It must be stressed however, that no money has been awarded to the applicants nor has this application been considered by the decision making body. This application will in the future come before the Local Action Group (LAG) which decides on all funding applications.” He continued, “I have today made inquiries and know that this matter has been the subject of discussion by DARD officials for a number of months in terms of its eligibility. I would hope that the Minister has not personally intervened to get it to this stage and we need clarification from her on this issue. I note that the Minister included in her statement the words “rigorous assessment” referring to the role the LAG’s play in assessing applications and I can assure the public that this application will certainly receive rigorous assessment, should it even reach that stage in the process.” “I have already tabled a priority parliamentary written question the Environment Minister Alex Attwood today on whether or not this monument erected in the 70’s ever had planning permission, which of course is a necessary prerequisite for any funding application. It will be interesting to get the response of Minister Attwood on that matter,” said Irwin. He added, “This application should not receive funding as it is divisive and the monument itself is insulting and hurtful to the many innocent victims of republican terrorism. I will be making my views strongly felt at the next LAG meeting and I certainly say a resounding NO to this distasteful application.”
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