UVF 'memorial' appears in WWI remembrance garden paid for by NIHE
The appearance of a UVF stone memorial to remember UVF members killed during the Troubles which has been placed in a WWI remembrance garden has sparked outrage across Northern Ireland.
The memorial garden, in the Village area of South Belfast, cost NIHE £22,000 to put in place.
The memorial also received funding from EU peace initiatives.
The NIHE have also said that the lock on the gate has been changed, meaning that they have been unable to enter the garden to remove the UVF plaque as yet.
An NIHE spokesperson said: " "The Housing Executive did not provide a UVF memorial. Instead, we provided a garden that reflects the sacrifices of men from south Belfast during the First World War.
"Great care was taken in consultation with the local community about the design of this garden in order to ensure there would be no paramilitary imagery included.
"The contract also clearly stipulated this.
"We are disappointed that since its construction other images have been added to the garden. We did not agree to any additional images.
"We are now trying to reach agreement with the local community to remove the additional images. The lock currently on the garden was not provided by the Housing Executive."
Councillor Bob Stoker, of UKIP, said: "We are looking at moving on and putting the past behind us. We can't go on whinging and complaining at every turn.
"It is in a local area that is not going to give offence to anyone, and I have not heard anyone making an complaints about it."
SDLP MLA, John Dallat, disagreed.
He said: "I am very disappointed and very angry that public money intended to bring communities together is being spent in a way that promotes division and regenerates paramilitary groups that should have been gotten rid of.
"The UVF memorial stone should be taken away because it dishonours and disfigures the very men the project was intended to honour."