The Belfast Titanic Society has hit out at plans for the Belfast wheel to remain at its current location because it obscures a memorial to the victims of the sea disaster.
Currently the big wheel structure sits around and on top of the memorial — at the side of the city hall — which was built to remember the Belfast people who were lost in the Titanic disaster of 1912.
And while the Belfast-based group — the majority of whose members are past shipyard workers — recognise the tourism benefits the wheel brings to Belfast, it is suggesting the memorial be moved to a different location.
At the last meeting of the Strategic Policy and Resources committee, Belfast City councillors voted in favour of requesting and approving “an extension to the period of operation for the Belfast Wheel in the ground of the City Hall for a further 24 months from September 1, 2009”.
The wheel’s stay in Belfast will now be subject to approval from the Planning Service.
Speaking against the decision, society spokesperson Susie Millar said the latest extension “flies in the face” of all the work being carried out in the Titanic Quarter.
“This new extension will mean the memorial will be hidden in 2011, a time when Belfast will be celebrating the launch of the ship,” said Ms Millar.
“We were never told the wheel would be here permanently, but this is the longest its stay has ever been extended.”
The group is now proposing the memorial be relocated to the north eastern corner of the City Hall grounds, close to where a statue of Sir Edward Harland now stands.
Society chairman Una Reilly added: “If the wheel is not for moving, then let’s create a proper site for the memorial. It is time for a solution.
“Titanic is one of five key tourism projects being promoted in Northern Ireland and yet total disregard is being shown for the memory of people who went down with the ship.”