A COMMEMORATIVE plaque to IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands in Roslea, which was taken away and then replaced during improvement works in the village has caused the DUP to accuse the Council of damaging community relations in east Fermanagh.
Following a visit to the republican memorial in Roslea recently by DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson the MP has hit out at the retention of the memorial as part of a publicly funded environmental improvement scheme in the village.
Mr Donaldson came to see the memorial at the invitation of Erne East councillor Paul Robinson.
Speaking during his visit to the county the DUP’s representative on the Haas peace talks said, “Given the vicious sectarian campaign directed against the Protestant community and the security forces in this part of Fermanagh, there is no doubt that many within the wider Roslea district could find the presence of such a memorial to the dead IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands as both offensive and inappropriate”.
“That it has been retained in such a prominent position and part funded by both Fermanagh District Council and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development raises serious questions about the council’s adherence to equality laws,” he added.
“It is this type of glorification of terrorism, supported by republicans in places like Roslea, where so many suffered at the hands of the IRA, that has convinced many of us that projects like the proposed peace centre at the Maze cannot proceed because of the damage this type of inexcusable activity does to community relations and promoting reconciliation.
Local councillor Paul Robinson said he has contacted the Housing Executive, whose property the plaque is attached to, about the plaque a number of times, but got no response from them.
Mr Robinson said that during the recent improvement works the plaque was taken away for a number of days and then replaced.
The council confirmed that the plaque in question was not on their property, simply stating that it had been there for a number of years.
“Unionist people don’t like it there. It’s driving unionist people out of the village” Mr Robinson said.
Although Mr Robinson accepts there are few nationalists in Roslea itself he feels it is divisive for people from the whole area.
“We shouldn’t be putting things like this up any more when we are supposed to be moving forward. Things like this belong in a graveyard where people are buried,” the councillor.
When asked for a response to Mr Donaldson’s statement the council said: “A number of initiatives were identified in the Action Plan for Roslea, including an environmental improvement scheme to enhance the appearance of the Village square at the junction of Main Street and Church Street.
The entire scheme in Roslea is valued at approximately £66,600 of which the village square element costs approximately £30,000.
“The proposal here includes replacing brick paving, flagstones, upgrading the steps, replacing brick walls with stone clad walls, providing flower beds and upgrading seating, bins and some decoration.
“The property does not belong to Fermanagh District Council. One wall in the Roslea scheme, to which stone cladding was applied, included a plaque which had been in place for many years.”
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