Nationalist politicians have hit out after a 1916 Easter Rising monument was removed by a unionist-controlled council in a midnight raid.
It is understood Mid and East Antrim Borough Council employed a contractor to remove the controversial memorial close to Carnlough Harbour.
Unionists had criticised the memorial, branding it “provocative” after it was erected in the County Antrim village in March.
Sinn Féin and SDLP representatives last night criticised the removal of the structure, describing the actions of the council as a “shameful and disrespectful act”.
Sinn Féin MLA, Oliver McMullan said the “forcible removable” of the memorial had caused “considerable hurt and anger” in the village. “This monument in Carnlough was erected earlier this year, like hundreds of others across Ireland, to mark the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising,” he said.
“Mid and East Antrim Council confirmed today they have removed the memorial, claiming it had not received council approval. This is a shameful and disrespectful and one-sided act.
“There are loyalist memorials dotted throughout the council area. We are simply asking that all memorials should be respected and treated equally. This action has caused considerable hurt and anger in the Carnlough area.
SDLP councillor Declan O’Loan said the council’s actions were “hypocritical”, highlighting the “plethora of huge paramilitary murals” throughout the district.
He said he did “not support the erection of any memorial on public property without authorisation” but breaches of planning rules required “sensitivity and patience”
“The council action was hasty. The public sees a plethora of huge paramilitary murals in very prominent locations across Mid and East Antrim.
“All sorts of loyalist flags hang in their hundreds with impunity. The hypocrisy of the situation is obvious, and it makes the nationalist community very angry.”
He added: “Acting in the dead of the night shows that the council knew very well the resentment there would be towards its action, even from those who had nothing to do with the memorial”.