Hopes rise for Derry 'factory girls' sculpture after campaigners meet council
Campaigners for a tribute to Londonderry's factory girls and their contribution to the economy say they are optimistic that a public realm artwork will be in place in the next two years.
A previous sculpture commissioned 14 years ago was plagued with problems including planning permission and failed to materialise.
But Maeve McLaughlin, who has spearheaded the campaign, said Derry City and Strabane District Council officials seem committed to delivering the project.
She was part of a delegation who met with the council.
She said: "There are grave concerns about the delays in delivering a fitting tribute to the factory girls of Derry who were the backbone of the city for decades and the fact that the previous process has now been shelved.
"We were keen to get an update on how we could move forward so, on Monday, the council were able to inform us that they have put in an application to the Department for Communities to appoint a design team and hope to have a letter of offer on that by early next year.
"They would appoint the design team who would commission a piece of artwork for the Harbour Square site and that should be completed by June so we could be talking about a finished piece within two years." Maeve said assurances were still needed around who would pay for the sculpture or artwork.
She added: "Officers were stressing to us that they are committed to getting this done but it is disgraceful that something like this has taken so long to do.
"Women are concerned that generations are passing away and that their stories will not be told."
A spokeswoman for the council said: "Council is working closely with the Department for Communities to ensure progression is made towards the public realm works at Harbour Square incorporating the installation of an arts piece to celebrate the industrial heritage of the city."