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Allister attacks SF man's 'complacency' on terror memorials

By Rebecca Black

Published 19/10/2016

Criticism: Jim Allister
Criticism: Jim Allister

Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard has been criticised after saying unauthorised roadside memorials to terrorists would not be removed unless they posed a safety risk.

A number of such memorials are situated at roadsides across Northern Ireland, including one to IRA members Brendan Burns and Brendan Moley close to Crossmaglen, where they were killed when a bomb detonated prematurely.

Recently, a poster lauding slain LVF leader Billy Wright sparked outrage.

TUV MLA Jim Allister raised the matter at the Assembly yesterday, asking Mr Hazzard exactly how many memorials to terrorists were on property owned or controlled by his department or one of its agencies.

Mr Hazzard said that he did not know, but he added that a "wide range" of memorials, including some to road victims, had been placed on or close to property owned by the Department of Infrastructure.

He also confirmed that he had ordered the removal of none of them. "Given the transient nature of many of them (the memorials), it is not possible to state how many there are across the whole of the North with any certainty," Mr Hazzard said.

"My department does not endorse any of them, but the long-standing practice has been to not remove any such memorials unless road safety is directly compromised.

"Any memorials on the property of my department's arm's-length bodies are matters for the boards of those organisations."

Mr Allister pressed the minister on memorials that glorify terrorists, to which Mr Hazzard responded: "The member will be aware of the plethora of memorials across the political spectrum - for the British Army, the UDR, the police and different groups across society.

"As I outlined, there are also memorials to those who have died at roadsides.

"The department's toleration policy was developed as a result of its experience in dealing with illegal roadside memorials and also the desire to avoid exacerbating the problem or putting the safety of staff or contractors at risk."

Speaking after the debate, Mr Allister said the lack of action over memorials to terrorists was "yet another example of how the feelings of victims are trampled upon".

"And how they (victims) have been completely failed by a political system which panders to victim-makers," he added.

Mr Allister accused the minister of "inaction and complacency on the matter".

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