Hopes factory girls sculpture will be ready by 2013

Factory Girls' sculpture sketch
Image caption An artist's impression of how the sculpture will look at the Harbour Square site

The artist responsible for creating a sculpture honouring the Londonderry shirt factory girls has said she is hopeful the work will be ready in time for the city's year as UK City of Culture in 2013.

Louise Walsh started work on the sculpture in 2006.

It had been originally planned the piece would be located at King Street in the Waterside.

Due to planning problems, the location was then changed to Harbour Square.

However, on-going works in the area has delayed the completion of the sculpture even further.

At the turn of the 20th century, there were more than 30 shirt factories in Derry.

The firms employed thousands of people, mostly women and girls.

Anna McClintock worked in the City Factory from 1954.

"I think the factory girls should be marked in some way. It was a big industry and for a big percentage of the population, it was their livelihood.

"It should be honoured and remembered. There are still factory girls here to enjoy it. The sculpture should be put up while they are there to see it and feel pride in it", she said.

'In Limbo'

SDLP councillor, Anne Donnelly described the delay in getting the sculpture erected as 'disgraceful'.

"People tend to forget that these women were the backbone of this city for a very long time.

"We are in limbo with the sculpture."

Sinn Fein councillor Maeve McLaughlin said she hopes the sculpture will be in place by 2013.

"If you want to see a fitting tribute to the shirt factory history, then you have to get on a bus and go to Belfast.

"What does that say about our city and our processes?"

Louise Walsh said that she remains fully committed to the project.

"It has been a tough process but I have a huge commitment to it.

"The design came from a lot of consultation with the shirt factory women who made a huge contribution to the city's history. They are the beating hearts of Derry's social, labour and economic history. They are amazing women."

Ms Walsh said the sculpture has to be re-configured for the Harbour Square site.

"I am hoping and waiting for the permission to go on with this proposal.

"It was selected by local agencies and public bodies, so there should not be a big problem getting the go-ahead.

"This was at the heart of culture in Derry. These women made this culture and if we are going to celebrate that, the work should be there."

In a statement, the Department of Social Department said a representative recently met with Ms Walsh in an effort to bring the project to completion.

"The Council's ongoing restoration works at the Guildhall has resulted in delays to the installation of the piece on the Department's land at Harbour Square.

"As the funding body the Department will continue to offer assistance to both the artist and Derry City Council to successfully complete and install the sculpture."