Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

'Alex Higgins is forgotten in Belfast'

Alex Higgins

Alex Higgins' grieving sister has criticised Belfast City Council for not creating a memorial to her snooker World Championship-winning brother, a year after his death.

Despite promises from councillors, including Ulster Unionist Bob Stoker, 12 months on and The Hurricane has no pride of place in his home city.

It was confirmed yesterday that suggestion of a memorial for one of Ulster's most iconic sportsmen has never even been raised at the council.

Higgins won the world title twice and was known as 'The People's Champion'.

Alex's sister Jean Higgins said 'Higgy' was always criticised and because of this "the city has forgotten him".

"The last time I saw anyone from the council was when I was down collecting the condolence books.

"I was there for about 10 minutes and I was offered a cup of tea and a biscuit. I'm not surprised nothing's been done," she said yesterday.

Jean said that in the space of a year she had been contacted once about some form of memorial to Alex, but even that didn't materialise.

She continued: "The past year has been hard and we have been bad coping with Alex's death. It's not just been this week. He is always on my mind.

"Not one person from the council has contacted me over the past year.

"Sure they never did anything for him in 1972 and 1982.

"Someone from Queen's University called about naming a snooker hall after him, but that never came to anything."

Before his death, Alex told his sister he wanted to be remembered by the city he loved.

Not long before he died he joked: "George (Best) got the wee airport, I'll take the big one."

Jean said she had hoped the council would now act on their promises.

She added: "The first thing you see when you arrive off the plane is George Best's Airport.

"If they want to remember him, it should be something that can be seen.

"But I don't think that will happen because Alex has always had criticism from Belfast.

"He got more recognition in the south when he was playing. The south thought more of him.

"When he was down there he was lifted and laid. I would love something to happen, but I can't see it."

Belfast councillor Bob Stoker last year said: "It is something I would definitely call for and support.

"I will be bringing it up with and speaking to people about it at Belfast City Council on a number of levels."

Yesterday Ulster Unionist party colleague Jim Rodgers reiterated those sentiments.

He said: "I would like to see him recognised.

"He was one of the best snooker players in the world and he was born in Belfast.

"It was my idea to have the City Airport named after George Best and I think something should be done for Alex.

"There were definitely good intentions that were forgotten. But he was born here and deserves to be recognised.

"I will definitely speak to my party colleagues and bring it up at council."

A Belfast City Council spokeswoman said: "This is something that the council would need to discuss and agree on but so far as I am aware it has not been raised at council."

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