By Ursula Duddy

Doubt remains over the proposed funding needed to erect a sculpture in honour of those who worked in the city’s shirt factory industry.

The government department responsible for funding the project said it remained ‘committed’ to the project.

However, the Department for Communities (DfC) said the funding required will ‘need to be considered in the context of the Department’s wider budget position’.

At one stage, Derry was regarded as one of the world’s most foremost areas for making shirts.

During this time, the city’s landscape was dominated by a large number of shirt factories.

Many of these factories have been demolished, although some still are in use as apartments or offices.

Eleven years, it was agreed that a sculpture should be erected in the city to honour those who had worked in the local shirt factory industry.

However, the project has been dogged with problems ever since.

The sculpture was created by Dublin-based artist, Louise Walsh.

However, it has still to be erected because of a range of issues.

In March this year, Derry City and Strabane District Council unanimously approved planning permission for the erection the sculpture at a special meeting of the council’s Planning Committee in Strabane.

A council planning officer said this would be the final hurdle of the 11-year-long saga.

The sculpture was originally to be situated at King Street in the Waterside but the site was changed to erect it at the rear of the Guildhall due to planning problems.

During the delays, the sculpture has been stored at a council yard.

The application for planning permission was lodged by Derry City and Strabane District Council, who had sought permission not only to erect the sculpture, but complete public realm works at Harbour Square, Custom House Street, Guildhall Street and Whittaker Street to allow the installation of the work.

However, in February this year, the Derry News revealed that funding had run out for the project, after the government department responsible for paying for the scheme, DfC, said it cannot provide more money than the original £90,000 allocated for the project.

The Derry News this week contacted the DfC to see if there has been any progression or resolution on the matter.

A DfC spokesperson said:   “Following the approval of planning permission for the sculpture, the Department wrote to the artist in June to suggest a meeting with Departmental and Council officials in order to progress the matter, including seeking clarification on the money that would be needed to complete the project, and is awaiting to hear about availability.

“The Department is committed to working with the artist and Council to deliver the project and provide a lasting legacy to the city's shirt factory workers.”

They added: “The funding that would be required to complete the project will need to be considered in the context of the Department’s wider budget position.”

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