A tribute to the late Jack Glenn has been re-stencilled onto one of the piers of the Foyle Bridge after its removal, in line with suicide prevention practice, prompted anger and hurt among his friends and family.
The ‘Camp Jacko’ graffiti was replaced on Friday less than 24 hours after the Mayor, Alderman Hilary McClintock, apologised to the Glenns on behalf of the council.
Members of the Glenn family were in attendance during Derry City and Strabane District Council’s monthly meeting on Thursday.
They had packed the public gallery after finding out via social media on Wednesday that the tribute, at the former Jack Glenn search camp at the western end of the Foyle Bridge, had been erased.
The Mayor, raising the matter during Chairperson’s business, said she appreciated the sign had been removed in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) guidance, but she suggested the family should have been consulted beforehand.
“I have great concern over the lack of consultation with the family at what’s a very early stage in their grieving,” she said.
It emerged during the meeting that the family only found out about the graffiti’s removal on social media on Wednesday.
Councillors from across the chamber suggested the lack of consultation with the family was “insensitive”.
DUP Alderman David Ramsey said he understood an inter-agency group recently met to decide how to move forward following the recovery of both Jack Glenn and Dean Millar and that they had followed WHO’s advice concerning the removal of “reminders that could be seen as a signal to suicide for vulnerable people”.
Regardless of the rights or wrongs of this,Alderman Ramsey said the family should have been involved in the discussions.
“No matter what is recommended by experts this has caused a lot of further grief for the families concerned,” he said.
Independent Alderman Maurice Devenney agreed and said that the removal without consultation with the family was “very, very insensitive”.
SDLP Councillor Martin Reilly suggested that there may have been “a level of misjudgment” in removing the graffiti without first discussing the move with the family.
Independent Councillor Sean Carr said “lessons [had] to be learned” from the incident, which followed so closely following the burial of Dean Millar on Tuesday.
“Unfortunately, they are not the first family to have suffered in this way and unfortunately they will not be the last,” he said.
Sinn Féin Councillor Chris Jackson said the episode had the potential to mar what had been a good relationship between the council and the #getjackback campaign.
“It’s unfortunate at this stage that the consultation did not take place,” he said.
And Ulster Unionist Alderman Derek Hussey spoke of his own personal loss: “Twenty-five years ago I lost my brother to suicide and that hurt is still there,” he said.
He said he was surprised and concerned at the speed with which the graffiti had been removed without any consultation.
Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly said there were questions to be answered around the decision to remove the graffiti.
“To say I was disgusted by the removal of was an understatement,” he said.
Colr. Donnelly said there should have been consultation with both the family and elected members of Derry City and Strabane District Council before the sign was removed.
“Diving out to whitewash a wall will not make these things go away. There is a perception out there that the great and the good want this to be as low key as possible,” he said.
The Mayor, thanked the family for their attendance and apologised on behalf of the council saying social media was a “horrific way to find out” about the sign’s removal.
She asked that a report be brought back to the next council meeting to ensure there is no repeat of the episode in future.
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