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The BBC's David Eades reports
"No one had bargained for this"
 real 28k

Thursday, 2 March, 2000, 19:26 GMT
Anger at republican grave statue
The statue has been erected near a republican plot
The statue has been erected near a republican plot
Unionists have demanded the immediate removal of a 10 feet high statue of an armed terrorist from a Londonderry cemetery.

The granite sculpture of a man standing guard over graves with a rifle, dressed in combat clothing, scarf, beret and dark glasses, has been erected in Derry City Cemetery.

It is to be formally unveiled by hard-line republicans this weekend.

It was commissioned by the Irish Republican Socialist Party which is linked to republican paramilitaries the Irish National Liberation Army.

Statue has been erected in Derry City Cemetery
Statue has been erected in Derry City Cemetery
Democratic Unionist Party assembly member Gregory Campbell described it as a glorification of violence and said the memorial was offensive to Protestants.

"One of the worst terrorist atrocities in the entire history of the Troubles was by the INLA, 12 miles from the city cemetery, in Ballykelly," he said.

"A total of 17 people were murdered by an INLA bomb in the Droppin' Well bar in 1982.

"We're not talking about something remote or some distance removed from the people affected by this."

The DUP security spokesman said people from both political traditions were buried in the council-owned cemetery.

Mr Campbell insisted that the statue would have to go.

"If people want to glorify terrorism and mass murder, it should be done in a place where the general public don't take exception to it," he said.

Gregory Campbell: Statue glorifies terrorism
Gregory Campbell: Statue glorifies terrorism
Until now, the site has commemorated those who died in the republican prison hunger strikes in 1981 with a wall and a plaque listing names of the dead.

A spokeswoman for Derry City Council said permission had been granted for the new memorial, but in light of the row the city engineer was compiling a report to be presented to the council later this month.

"We don't screen or look at images of headstones or memorials or their replacements," she said.

"This is the first time there has been a problem of this nature and the situation has to be assessed fully."

Statue defended

But Fra Halligan, a member of the IRSP's executive, denied the statue was offensive.

"It is sad day when the dead, who themselves are victims of these troubles, are demonised even in their graves," he said.

The monument was considered appropriate for the site, the republican socialist plot for counties Londonderry and part of Tyrone, he said.

"We think it is a very fitting tribute to all the hunger strikers and members of our movement who have given their lives."

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See also:

04 Nov 99 |  Northern Ireland
Fury as INLA killer gets parole
16 Feb 99 |  Paramilitaries
Paramilitary groups
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