Attack on World War One ‘Ghost Tommy’ memorial figure condemned by DUP and Sinn Féin councillors

Ghost Tommy damaged in Cairncastle
The ‘Ghost Tommy’ damaged in Cairncastle.

A DUP councillor has accused vandals of stooping “as low as you can go” by attacking a ‘Ghost Tommy’ silhouhette which was erected to mark the upcoming 100th anniversary of the ending of World War One.

The metal structures were put up in a number of areas in the Mid & East Antrim Borough Council area but some time over the weekend one of the figures was vandalised in Cairncastle near Larne.

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Alderman Gregg McKeen.

Alderman Gregg McKeen (DUP) told ‘Ballymena Daily’ tonight: “This was just disgraceful and an act of vandalism on a memorial to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in World War One.

“It is a memorial to Unionists and Nationalists, Protestants and Catholics who fought, these symbols were a mark of respect to all and it is disappointing that somebody would stoop so low to damage this – it’s as low as you can go.”

The Larne councillor said there was anger in the area about what happened and he had been in touch with the Council on Sunday about getting the damaged figure replaced.

He said the incident happened just days after a Sinn Féin councillor had commented in the media about the ‘Ghost Tommy’ at Cairncastle.

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Councillor James McKeown.

During the week Sinn Féin councillor James McKeown said there had been no consultation on the erection of the figure in Cairncastle which he said was in a mixed area.

On Sunday night, Cllr McKeown condemned the vandalism and said he believed the damaged figure had been replaced already.

The Carnlough councillor told ‘Ballymena Daily’: “It was a wanton act of vandalism and should be condemned by all right thinking people and I condemn it.

“No matter what you think of how someone remembers their dead you should definitely respect their dead”.

Cllr McKeown said his issue with the original siting of the ‘Ghost Tommy’ in Cairncastle was that there had been no consultation with the community as there had been regarding a Republican memorial in Carnlough.

In 2016, workers removed a 3ft memorial put on council land without permission to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising in the mainly nationalist village. At the time unionists criticised the memorial.

Ghost Tommy
What the ‘Ghost Tommy’ figures normally look like.

The Ghost Tommies initiative is part of the 2018 Armistice Project, There But Not There, which the organisers said aims to educate all generations, particularly today’s younger generation, to understand what led to the horrific loss of life.

The Tommies also support a new charity called Remembered. Its aim is to raise £15million for Armed Forces and mental health charities to help heal those suffering from the hidden wounds of post-traumatic stress disorder and other lasting legacies of combat, by raising funds for their beneficiary charities.

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