Belfast republican memorial to be investigated by Housing Executive
The Housing Executive is investigating the building of a republican memorial on its land in north Belfast.
The Butler Walk monument was constructed earlier this year by the Ardoyne, Bone and Ligoniel Heritage Association on land it rents from the organisation.
The memorial was unveiled last Sunday after a republican colour party led a parade through the streets.
Shankill bomber Sean Kelly was among the hundreds who attended.
It was officially opened by North Belfast Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly.
He described it as a "lovely place of remembrance".
The Housing Executive said it leased the land on the understanding it was to become a community garden.
A spokesman said it was now investigating the matter.
"The site at Butler Walk/Place was assessed as having no development potential for social housing," he said.
"An economic appraisal was conducted and a public trawl of the land was also completed, as required by Managing Public Money NI.
"In those circumstances, the land was leased to Ardoyne, Bone and Ligoniel Heritage Association, a community group, in April 2014 for 25 years, restricted for use as a community garden only.
"The land is leased with a rental of £200 per annum, to be reviewed every five years. The lease also contains additional covenants on the part of the heritage association regarding its use of the land.
"Against that background, we will be investigating this matter and any such issues as may be identified as relevant will be raised directly with the heritage association."
Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister queried why some names had not been included on the memorial.
He claimed their absence was an attempt to "whitewash history".
"We are well used to republican hypocrisy, but it is breathtaking to think that Sinn Fein/IRA would pontificate about the right of all people to be remembered when defending a memorial which airbrushes those who lost their lives at the hands of the Provisional movement," Mr Allister said.
"This double standard when it comes to deaths during the Troubles is why no one should have any faith in republicans telling the truth to the proposed Independent Commission for Information Retrieval (ICIR).
"Just as they have used this memorial to glorify murdered terrorists while ignoring victims of the IRA, they will use the architecture of the Stormont House Agreement to rewrite the Troubles."
Sinn Fein hit back at the North Antrim MLA.
"Jim Allister's newly found concern for the people of Ardoyne, Ligoniel and the Bone areas of north Belfast would be touching if it wasn't so cynical," a party spokesman said.
"Had Jim Allister ever actually visited or saw the memorial he would know that the inscription on the centre piece, a Celtic cross which has been there for 40 years, reads 'In loving memory of all from Ardoyne, Bone and Ligoneil who died because of Ireland's Troubles."
The spokesman added: "Jim Allister's effort to score cheap political points at the expense of grieving families is beneath contempt."