Public outcry over Newry’s big screen

December 7, 2015

The erection of a ‘big screen’ sited in the heart of Newry city centre has prompted public outcry and divided opinions, with many labelling the huge structure an “eyesore” and others questioning its practicality.

The massive frame of the free standing screen was installed last week in the events space in Marcus Square, just yards from Newry’s iconic Cathedral. The proximity of the structure to the Cathedral, obscuring the view of the historical building,  has sparked public outcry, with clergy and parishioners calling for its removal or relocation.

A petition to have the digital sign removed has also been initiated by business owners and residents who say the sign is better suited on a motorway as opposed to a small town centre. The petition calls for the removal of the sign to a better suited location outside of the Hill Street area and has been signed by over 700 people so far.

Many supporters of the petition have branded the screen a “monstrosity”, slamming the council’s “lack of vision” and questioning how it can justify funding the “ridiculously oversized digital screen.”

A planning application for the electronic display screen was submitted by the Council last August with planning permission for the £110k project granted in March this year.  With work finishing on the installation this week, the screen is scheduled to be up and running within the next few days.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council have billed the project as a “large marketing screen” and it is understood that it will display everything from Christmas movies to football matches during next summer’s European Championships.

Defending the Council’s decision to erect the digital sign, Deputy Chief Executive of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Eddy Curtis, told BBC Newsline last week that the planning application for the display had appeared in all local press.

“My view is that this is the events space for the city centre. The Council intend using this  for a large number of events and we think the location is perfect for all of the events which we will be organising,” added Mr Curtis.

A Council spokesperson told The Examiner the outdoor scheme is part of the Revitalisation Scheme in Newry.

“The project was publicly advertised as part of the Planning process and no major opposition was received,” said the spokesperson.