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Concerns raised for safety of Council staff tasked with removing illegal paramilitary murals

A Lurgan councillor has called for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council to produce a report outlining how its officers can best deal with illegal paramilitary murals, façades and memorials.

The call came from Alliance Party councillor, Peter Lavery, at Council’s monthly meeting on Monday, October 25 in response to correspondence received from the Executive Office and the Department of Justice (DoJ).

The correspondence confirms both the Executive Office and DoJ share Council’s condemnation of actions that seek to mark territory or create tension and says a “concerted effort” is being made by the DoJ to “address paramilitary activity and criminality”.

Welcoming these responses, Cllr Lavery called on Council officers to do more to put an end to the “illegal erection of paramilitary murals, façades and memorials throughout the borough”.

Stating his belief that officers seem “unwilling to take a decision in line with delegated authority” on these matters, Cllr Lavery proposed a report is compiled offering councillors advice and guidance as to how best to tackle the issue.

“There are a number of ongoing planning enforcement cases relating to the illegal erection of these objects,” said Cllr Lavery.

“Unfortunately, these are at a deadlock as it seems officers are unwilling to take a decision in line with delegated authority if there are any breaches of planning legislation.

“I would like a report to be brought back on the issues in relation to these cases to see if we can get advice and guidance on how officers can deal with these issues.”

This proposal was seconded by Council’s Lord Mayor, Alderman Glenn Barr.

In addition to this report, Councillor Darryn Causby called for a risk assessment to be carried out.

“We need to seek a risk assessment on behalf of the officers to ensure those dealing with these illegal murals and façades and whatever else they may be, are safe and secure in their role,” said Cllr Causby.

“It is vital that Council does its utmost to protect them from any potential consequence that could arise from an attempt to remove these.

“We have to take cognisance of the fact these things are illegal.

“However, we also have to be aware that it is not law abiding citizens that are erecting these thing either.

“We need to make sure the appropriate safety assessment is done on behalf of our officers before they go out to deal with these things.”

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