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Proposal to commemorate RUC in council building descends into row between Sinn Fein and unionists

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Council HQ: The Braid in Ballymena. Credit: Arts Fund

Council HQ: The Braid in Ballymena. Credit: Arts Fund

Council HQ: The Braid in Ballymena. Credit: Arts Fund

A Sinn Fein councillor’s fierce objection to a proposal to install a window dedicated to the RUC at The Braid in Ballymena was described as a “disgrace”.

During Monday’s meeting of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, DUP councillor Audrey Wales made the proposal to install the window in the council’s main civic building.

Ms Wales indicated that the proposal to commemorate the RUC, which was replaced by the PSNI in 2001, was originally made during the legacy Ballymena Borough Council.

However, Sinn Fein councillor Ian Friary said that he did not think the centenary of the RUC should be celebrated.

“The RUC, their role, their history, their participation in the conflict should not be commemorated or celebrated,” he stated.

“It was a biased partisan state force that colluded in the murder of citizens here and it had to be disbanded.”

He added: “The council should not be marking its formation.”

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TUV councillor Timothy Gaston, described Mr Friary’s comments as “disgraceful” and said the window would be a “very fitting tribute”.

DUP councillor John Carson said five members of his family were in the RUC – one of which was murdered in Londonderry.

He added that he was “annoyed” and “upset” by Mr Friary’s comments but not surprised.

“But for my late father and late uncles I will not take that sort of talk from anyone,” continued Mr Carson. “I will refer those comments to the Ombudsman and see what he has to say about it.

“I was one of the ones behind the proposal at Ballymena Council that there would be a memorial window put in Ballymena Town Hall for the RUC George Cross.”

Mr Carson’s party colleague Billy Ashe said he would also like to see a plaque erected in Ballymena Memorial Garden for the RUC, while the DUP’s Gregg McKeen wished to see something similar in Larne Memorial Garden.

An RUC George Cross Memorial is due to be unveiled and dedicated at Ballymena Memorial Park by Ballymena RUC George Cross Association on May 22.

The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, William McCaughey, is to host a commemorative event on June 1.


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