Greenisland pensioner saddened after memorial crosses removed from Knockagh

A Greenisland pensioner has been left saddened after crosses placed in memory of his late wife were removed from Knockagh Monument.

Former wrestler, Dave Finlay Snr, who has lived in Greenisland since 1960, contacted the Carrick Times to voice concern after wooden crosses he had placed at the Co Antrim War Memorial site following his wife’s death in 2019 went missing.

Mr Finlay (86) said: “Knockagh Monument was a special place for my family. On sunny mornings we would have taken a picnic up for breakfast and it was like a sacred place, it meant so much to us and we had so many happy memories there from when our children were younger.

"Shortly after my wife Evelyn passed away in 2019, I made a wooden cross which was around two foot tall and placed it up at the monument. It had a small inscription ‘Evelyn Finlay, 1937-2019, in loving memory’.

Mr Finlay with one of the memorial crosses at Knockagh Monument.

“It remained there, untouched, until earlier this year. I was up at the monument and realised it had been removed. Not long after this, I made a new cross, similar to the first one, and placed it up at the monument, this time in a more secluded place to stop it from being taken. I attached it to railings with brackets. Then around two months ago I noticed that it had also disappeared. It would have taken some time for anyone to remove it.

"I don’t know why anyone would want to remove memorial crosses like this. It’s been upsetting for my family and I would ask that whoever is doing it to stop.”

Mr Finlay added he has brought the matter to the attention of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, which is the guardian of the monument commemorating those from the area who fell during the First and Second World War.

In response to Mr Finlay’s comments , a spokesperson for Mid and East Antrim Borough Council told this newspaper: "Staff were unaware of these items, and would not have removed them without prior approval.”

The spokesperson explained: “While council do not have a policy on this issue, permission is required prior to placing any form of tribute at a council memorial.

"Council own and manage a number of locations which provide opportunities for members of the public to show their respects. All these sites require specific permissions prior to placing non-moveable items at them.”

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Mid and East Antrim had not sought payments from partner councils in the aftermath of the amalgamation of local authorities in 2015 although they were said to have been willing to pay towards the cost of the upkeep of the monument. However, after later being written to, Antrim and Newtownabbey, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Councils and Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council agreed to pay £1,000 for each year from 2015 to 2019 with an increase to £2,000 from 2020 onwards.

Mid and East Antrim councillors were told these financial contributions would “assist significantly in both the maintenance costs of the monument and its surrounds as well as towards the cost of the annual commemoration ceremony and reception”.