Belfast Telegraph

Anger over delays to shirt factory girls memorial

By Donna Deeney

The lack of progress in delivering a sculpture recognising the efforts of Londonderry's shirt factory girls has been branded an "absolute disgrace", despite being approved by a council planning committee this week.

Twelve years after a tribute to the thousands of women who worked in the industry was proposed, campaigners are angry that they're still waiting.

The initial cost of the project was £90,000, but it has now soared to beyond £150,000 as problems over the preferred location were identified and an alternative site was sought.

An application for this new site near the Guildhall, which had been marked for refusal after objections from the historic buildings section of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, came before the planning committee of Derry and Strabane Council. The committee rejected the recommendation and marked it for approval, however this is just the start of a lengthy process which ends at the Department for Infrastructure.

Campaigners, including trade unionist Ann Donnelly, are outraged.

"The reality is there are still so many hoops for it to pass through it could be years before it is in place," she said. "I think it would be optimistic to imagine this sculpture will be completed in four or five years' time, and considering that a lot of the women it is recognising are in their 70s now, it is a sad reality that many of them will not live to see it." Jeanette Warke, who worked in the shirt factories, is incensed.

She said: "It is an absolute disgrace that this has been allowed to drag on and on. I remember going to meetings with the artist with other factory girls 12 years ago. People talk about good community relations nowadays, but the women of this city worked in the factories every day and there was no mention of who was a Catholic or who was a Protestant, and if that doesn't deserve recognition I don't know what does."

Belfast Telegraph


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