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Belfast war memorial close to republican plot nominated for listed status

By Rebecca Black

Published 21/07/2016

The Cross of Sacrifice at Milltown Cemetery in west Belfast has been put forward to be granted a listed structure
The Cross of Sacrifice at Milltown Cemetery in west Belfast has been put forward to be granted a listed structure
Sandy Row Orange Hall in south Belfast has been put forward to be granted a listed structure

A First World War memorial in a cemetery better known for its republican plots has been put forward for listed status.

The Cross of Sacrifice at Milltown Cemetery was erected in 1929 in memory of local men who died fighting in the conflict.

It was commissioned by the Imperial War Graves Commission. Two similar crosses stand in the City Cemetery and Dundonald Cemetery.

The proposed B1 listing of the Milltown monument also includes a screen wall bearing the names of casualties.

Belfast historian Tom Hartley, who has written a book on the history of Milltown Cemetery, said the Cross of Sacrifice was well looked after and was often adorned with flowers.

It is just a short distance from the republican plot where scores of IRA members are buried, including Bobby Sands and the Gibraltar three - Mairead Farrell, Daniel McCann and Sean Savage, who were killed by the SAS.

Mr Hartley said a number of soldiers who died in the First World War were buried at Milltown Cemetery, including in its poor ground.

He added the views of people in the nationalist community towards those who died fighting for the British Army in the conflict had "changed enormously" in the past 20 years.

"Attitudes certainly have changed dramatically," Mr Hartley said. "People often stop me as I am walking down the street to show me photos or other mementos that belonged to their relatives who fought with the Connaught Rangers. People have realised that whatever their attitude to that war was, they have grandfathers or great uncles who died fighting and they want to remember them."

A number of other structures have also been put forward for historical listing to Belfast City Council by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency. These include Sandy Row Orange Hall in south Belfast, which dates back to 1910, a former national school on the Ligoniel Road in the north of the city, two Malone Road townhouses in south Belfast, and Bank House on the Newtownards Road in the east of the city.

The council's planning committee will consider the proposals at its next meeting on Tuesday August 26.

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