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Belfast can begin to showcase diverse history with new statue, says Long

Belfast has a chance to showcase its diverse side with a statue of a noted anti-slavery campaigner, Alliance Councillor Michael Long has said.

Councillor Long was speaking ahead of a meeting of Belfast City Council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee tomorrow (Friday) at which a proposal to erect a monument to Mary Ann McCracken will be discussed. If agreed in principle, the suggestion would be sent for an equality impact assessment before coming before main Council.

“Mary Ann McCracken is a perfect example of the need to showcase the diverse nature of Belfast and how not everyone can be placed into a simple descriptive box,” said Councillor Long.

“She was a Presbyterian but also an Irish republican who loved traditional Irish music. A campaigner for women being able to vote, she also was a successful business person at a time when females often didn’t have those opportunities.

“Mary Ann also worked to improve Belfast, setting up a school for orphans, advocating for prison reform and perhaps most notably, actively campaigning to stop slavery and even refusing to eat sugar due to its connections to the slave trade.

“A statue for Mary Ann McCracken would only be the first step in reforming how we look at our past in terms of memorials at City Hall and making it inclusive for everyone. Alliance wants it to be part of a package of measures which would include a Carson commemorative tile, a panel honouring the bomb disposal squad, a stained glass window for health workers, and contributions celebrating the LGBT+ community and ethnic minorities.

“We are a city of wonderful stories and fantastic people, and it’s time our civic buildings reflected that.”