Naming of new Rodaí Mac Corlaí bridge
Naming of new Rodaí Mac Corlaí bridge

Republicans are to rename a newly opened bridge on the main Belfast to Derry road in honour of an Irish patriot, hanged from the original bridge in 1798.

The Toome Bridge, on a new bypass around the village of Toome, was officially named and opened by British Direct Rule minister John Spellar last month.

The SDLP said the bridge should be named after John Hume, while Sinn Féin backed Roddy McCorley, a leading United Irishman with strong links to the area.

Now republicans are to hold a dedication ceremony on Easter Tuesday to rename the bridge Rodaí Mac Corlaí, the patriot's name in Irish.

Antrim Sinn Féin councillor Martin Meehan said the newly-revived Roddy McCorley society would erect a plaque or monument at the bridge bearing the new name.

``The bridge is being renamed on Easter Tuesday,'' he said.

He said Mr Spellar took the decision on the name of the new bridge ``without consultation and without any survey of the residents of Toome as a whole''.

``There was no consensus with local people,'' he said, adding that ``it is the people of Toome who are renaming the bridge''.

He said the renaming ceremony was to be carried out by the newly revived Roddy McCorley society, which until 10 years ago marched every Easter Tuesday in Toome.

He said the renaming had the backing of Sinn Féin. Mr Meehan will chair proceedings while the party's European candidate Bairbre de Brun would be key-note speaker at the ceremony.

``Something will be erected on the day so that people recognise that it is called Rodaí Mac Corlaí Bridge,'' he said, though would not reveal what form the monument would take.

He rejected the suggestion that he did not have the authority or right to rename the bridge.

``Who gave the authority to a British minister to name the bridge without consultation with the local residents?'' he asked.

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