Belfast Telegraph

Celtic statue row: TUV man blasts 'false gods and pagans'

By Donna Deeney

A plan to use the damaged sculpture of a Celtic sea god as a tourist attraction would promote paganism and false gods, according to a TUV councillor.

The original statue of Manannan Mac Lir was stolen from the top of Benevenagh Mountain in January, and a wooden cross left in its place.

On the cross was the Biblical message: "You shall have no other gods before me."

The stolen statue was found last month, but was too damaged to erect again. Now Limavady councillors have agreed to fund a £10,000 replica and place it back on the mountain. But SDLP councillor Gerry Mullan also suggested the original could still be used and proposed to capitalise on the global interest the theft of the sculpture sparked.

He said the damaged figure could be placed in the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre to draw visitors to Limavady town centre.

However, Mr Mullan said he was taken aback by the reaction his suggestion ignited from his fellow councillors. Among those who vented their disapproval was the TUV's Boyd Douglas who said he was unhappy the statute had been erected at all.

"I don't believe in these false gods. Councillor Mullan's suggestion to link a paganistic monument with the Broighter Gold is ridiculous."

Mr Mullan said: "I really thought this would have won support because I couldn't see how anyone would have a problem with tourists coming into Limavady. I was left with no choice but to withdraw my proposal and the matter will now go to the Causeway Coast and Glens Council with a strong recommendation that it is accepted."

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