Vandals who smashed a blue plaque erected at Mallusk Cemetery in memory of United Irishman James ‘Jemmy’ Hope are “ignorant of their history and heritage”, Newtownabbey’s Mayor has claimed.
The Ulster History Circle (UHC) plaque was erected at the Park Road cemetery at the end of March. It was officially unveiled by Mayor Fraser Agnew and Mrs Blanche McMordie, a direct descendant of Jemmy Hope - the Roughfort man who was a prominent figure in the Society of United Irishmen.
Last week, vandals smashed the Ulster-Scots Agency-funded plaque into several pieces.
According to the UHC, this was the first time in its 30-year history that one of its plaques has been deliberately destroyed.
Condemning the vandalism, Alderman Agnew said: “The wilful destruction of the UHC plaque to Jemmy Hope shows how much we have to do to educate the people who did this, to challenge their ignorance of their history and heritage.”
Councillor Noreen McClelland branded the attack “pure vandalism”, adding that it was very disappointing for all those who worked so hard to get the plaque erected in the first place.
Chris Spurr, Chairman of the UHC, added: “The smashing of this plaque represents a form of censorship, which the Ulster History Circle utterly condemns. Our plaques celebrate and inform, and until this wilful act, they have been welcomed everywhere. It is all the more sad that the shattered plaque bore the uplifting name of Hope.”
It’s understood that the UHC is working with Newtownabbey Borough Council with the aim of having the plaque replaced.
Ulster History Circle blue plaques commemorate men and women, born in or associated with the province of Ulster, who have made a significant contribution to its history and development. To date, more than 170 have been erected across Northern Ireland and Co Donegal.