Sinn Fein has protested after it emerged a huge memorial to the British Army’s murderous Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) is due to be erected in Lisburn, County Antrim later this year.
The massive statue depicts a male UDR soldier holding a rifle in one hand, with his other hand up in what has been described as a ‘halt’ position, and a female UDR member holding a radio handset.
The 19ft bronze memorial will be unveiled in the city’s Market Square before the summer.
The aggressive stance of the UDR members has further angered nationalists, with some saying it was reminiscent of the darkest days of the conflict.
Sinn Fein Assembly member Paul Butler said the statue would be “insulting and intimidating” to Roman Catholics.
He said it should be located in a British Army barracks away from public view.
During its service, the UDR operated as a loyalist paramilitary organisatiom. It was routinely accused of collusion and a number of its were directly involved in the murder of Catholics.
Mr Butler said the statue will make nationalists feel unwelcome in the city.
“For a council to facilitate this on their land is totally wrong because a district council should be a neutral institution, shared by both communities, so they shouldn’t be associated with things like a UDR statue,” he said.
He said that erecting a statue of a man holding a gun is inappropriate and said it would send a “chill” through the nationalist community.
“Catholics will see this insulting and intimidating monument as reward for a regiment that was up to its neck in sectarian killings of nationalists....Planting a statue like this in the middle of Lisburn puts out a message that you’re not welcome.”
A 21-year-old Omagh man has said he is “too afraid to leave his home” after he was attacked in Castlederg, County Tyrone.
Dean McCullagh and a friend were assaulted on Main Street in the County Tyrone village on Sunday. He said he believes he was targeted because he is a Catholic.
“I’m a Catholic, my friend is Protestant and I have a Celtic cross tattoo,” he said. “I can’t think of any other reason.”
Mr McCullagh sustained a broken nose and wrist, as well as back injuries.