Belfast Telegraph

Groomsport cenotaph in war of words

By Dave Whelan

There is a storm brewing in the village of Groomsport over plans to upgrade the status of the local war memorial.

In a recent report by the Historic Buildings Council the Groomsport War Memorial was re-graded to a B2 status, missing out on the grade A standard because the area was "degraded" by the removal of its original railings during WWII.

The railings were removed by villagers over 70 years ago in a bid to do their bit for the war effort and their absence has now been criticised in an official report.

A campaign has since been launched by Groomsport Remembrance Committee to restore the memorial and reapply for the higher grade, against the wishes of Groomsport Village Association.

Flyers have been posted in letterboxes throughout the village about the proposed plans, although the Village Association has been quick to distance itself from the campaign arguing that any proposed upgrade would take away from its "beauty" and "simplicity".

In a statement the Groomsport Village Association said the memorial was a very important feature of the village that should be properly respected and maintained as a fitting tribute to those who served and died in the World Wars.

"Given that the memorial currently sits in a beautiful location overlooking the harbour, we believe that nothing should be done that will take away from the beauty and simplicity of the setting, or interrupt the views from Main Street to the harbour.

"The memorial itself is a simple, dignified granite obelisk set to the north side of Main Street. Given the simplicity of the memorial, it is the beautiful setting which makes it special, with the harbour as its backdrop ... we find it hard to understand why the official who wrote the report should consider the monument, or its setting, to be "degraded" by the removal of the railings. Especially as, we understand, previous reports have made no comment on the matter.

"The Village Association's view is that the introduction of railings, far from enhancing the setting, would take away from the simple beauty of the setting."

Local MLA and Remembrance Committee member, Alex Easton, said: "The Groomsport Remembrance Committee is looking forward to working with everyone to help with plans to revamp the Groomsport War Memorial in time to coincide with the commemorations of the start of World War I in 1914. The initial consultation was done to over 500 homes in Groomsport and was largely supportive of the renovation of the Groomsport War Memorial.

"However there are some aspects of any proposals that may need to be looked at more closely, and there will be a follow up consolation as promised with the residents and the Groomsport Village Association."

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