A proposal to erect a statue of the late Queen Elizabeth II in Armagh City was agreed by a majority of councillors on Monday night.
TUV councillor, Keith Ratcliffe, proposed the motion which was supported by 25 councillors, while 15 objected.
The proposal, seconded by Independent Unionist, Alderman Paul Berry, read: “We propose that Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council recognises the 70 years of service rendered by the late Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, as the United Kingdom’s longest reigning monarch.
“In recognition of her shining example of exemplary selfless service, we the undersigned propose that a substantial permanent memorial be commissioned and located within Armagh City and be in situ before or during 2026.
“We believe that the memorial should depict Queen Elizabeth II during her coronation and that ideally it would be located in a prominent and visible location in Armagh City.
“We further propose that officers prepare a report, taking this matter forward, to include options for design, location, consultation with appropriate groups and identification of a suitable budget as part of the estimates process. This statue will be a fitting tribute by the people of the Borough to the late Monarch.”
Sinn Féin councillor, John Óg O’Kane, opposing the motion, said: “Everybody has a right to celebrate their culture, however, as elected representatives we must ensure public money is spent fairly.
“I’ve been disappointed in the last two weeks. This [chamber] has actually turned into something like a Laurel and Hardy show. Last week we decided to light up a building blue and white….this week we’re looking to build a monument.
“I work with the [Council] officers closely and they have some fantastic ideas but it always comes back to finances. In the days of a cost of living crisis I think there are better ways of spending ratepayers’ money.
“We estimate royal spend in recent years to be in and around £300,000 in a time when this council is trying to make a saving of £5 million but again we want to build a monument. I think the people in this room would need to get a grip of reality and see what is happening outside.”
Alliance councillor Robbie Alexander supported the motion stating that his party would be “keen to hear the results of the report and understand potential options, as well as potential costs” but that it was “absolutely right a meaningful and thoughtful memorial akin to the Queen’s contribution be placed within this borough”.
SDLP Councillor Thomas O’Hanlon opposed the motion on the grounds of cost and impacts on budget within Council.
Councillor Ratcliffe, who is the TUV’s party chairman, said: “TUV feel that this proposal will create a lasting and fitting memorial to our late Queen, who was loved and respected by many many people right across this Borough.
“Her late Majesty occupies a unique place in history as the longest reigning monarch in our history and she is therefore deserving of unique recognition; if approved this will be the first royal statue in the Borough of ABC.
“ABC Council has the opportunity of being one of the first regions in the UK to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s legacy in this way.
“It was a great honour and privilege for me to bring this motion before the Council Chamber this evening. I am grateful to Alderman Berry for seconding the motion and for the support from council colleagues who ensured the proposal passed with a comfortable majority. I look forward to the work progressing at pace so we can erect a fitting tribute to our late Majesty.”