Dunlop memorial gardens row continues

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Image caption,
The Joey Dunlop memorial garden with the Robert Dunlop garden in the background, beyond the hedge

The Mayor of Ballymoney has called for the families of Joey and Robert Dunlop to be given space to work out their differences over the memorial gardens.

Ballymoney Council voted to link the brothers' garden after their mother requested a path between them.

Joey's family said they were disappointed work would go ahead without the endorsement of his wife and children.

Robert's family said they were delighted the link was going ahead.

Joey Dunlop was killed during a race in Estonia in 2000, while Robert died during a practice session at the North West 200 in 2008.

A spokesman for Robert's family, who also said he was speaking on behalf of the brothers' mother, May Dunlop - added: "At the minute the family are saying nothing more on the matter."

Mayor of Ballymoney, Councillor Bill Kennedy said he hoped the families would be able work it out.

"The council has invested thousands of pounds in a memorial first for Joey and then for Robert, to honour the Dunlop name and the contribution they made to their sport, Ballymoney and Northern Ireland as a whole."

Resolved

"After Robert's garden was erected May Dunlop put a letter into the council to request a path linking them together, saying it was something she would like to see.

"But Linda Dunlop felt this was very much something she was against, she was very determined that she didn't want the two gardens joined," he said.

The move has been bitterly opposed by Linda Dunlop, who has said that she holds no ill will against her late brother-in-law's family.

A statement on behalf of Joey Dunlop's family said they were "disappointed" that Ballymoney council have decided to proceed with work on the Memorial Garden "without the endorsement of Joey's wife and children".

"The Garden has played a very important part in our lives for the past ten years and we are deeply upset that there will be so much unnecessary upheaval in this place of remembrance.

"We think Joey's and Robert's Memorial Gardens are beautiful tributes to two of Northern Irelands finest sporting ambassadors, enjoyed by thousands of people every year, and we hope that Joey's fans all over the world will understand that we simply want to remember him without any further disruption to our lives".

Mr Kennedy said he had spoken to Linda Dunlop privately about her reservations.

"Linda was given the opportunity to write a letter to the council giving her reasons for not wanting it, but on balance the council decided a small link would be the best solution.

"It definitely isn't a merger of the two gardens, they will still be individual gardens for the brothers and there would be minimal disruption, with only a small section of hedge between the two being taken out.

"Maybe in time the families will see this as not a bad thing and it will be resolved so that in time they can enjoy the gardens in the way that they wish."

The work should be completed in the next few weeks. Care will be taken not to disturb the gardens, which are council property.

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