CONTROVERSIAL plans for an ‘Iron Ring’ sculpture at Flint Castle have been put on hold.

More than 9,000 people have now signed the online petition opposing the Welsh Government proposal to install a £395,000 Iron Ring at Flint Castle as part of a £630,000 investment project.

Many feel the ring is a symbol of Welsh oppression dating back to the Middle Ages when Edward I conquered Wales between 1277 and 1283, leading to the subjugation of Welsh people.

Flintshire Council has confirmed it had not been consulted about the project before it was announced by the Welsh Government’s economy secretary Ken Skates last Friday.

But those plans are now going to be ‘paused’ while consultation about the sculpture takes place with the Flint community.

Speaking to the Leader yesterday, Mr Skates said: “Art is often controversial.

“However, it is important for further engagement work to be carried out with the community.

“I’m very keen to enhance the economic prospects of Flint and by using the castle as a primary hook for the visitor economy is a clear objective.”

He added: “We have listened and recognise the strength of feeling around the proposed art installation at Flint Castle and feel it is only right that we now take a pause and review the plans for the sculpture.

“’Working with local partners, we’ll continue to work on proposals for developments at Flint, including reviewing new visitor facilities.”

The halt to the project has been welcomed by those who criticised it earlier this week.

North Wales regional AM Llyr Gruffydd said: “This crass design for a sculpture to symbolise Wales’ oppression was inappropriate and insulting to the people of Wales.

“It showed a serious lack of judgement by the Welsh Government, which failed to consult with local people about this £400,000 sculpture.

“The Labour government has rightly been shamed into rethinking its design but has failed to acknowledge how disrespectful this plan was. The cabinet secretary for the economy should apologise for its bad judgement.

“He should heed the words of Plaid Cymru MPs who wrote to him stating that ‘nations with a robust grasp of their history erect monuments to their people’s liberty, not conquest’.”

“I hope to see the Welsh Government announce a new design soon for an installation at Flint Castle that both recognises and respects our past. I’m sure the people of Flint and the whole of Wales would be happy to support that.”

Plaid Cymru’s Mabon ap Gwynfor said: “The news that the Government will put the Flint Iron Ring on ice is to be welcomed.

“It was a crass and insulting plan, which views the history of our conquest from a London viewpoint. It is meant to be a celebration of Welsh heritage and culture, not of our conquest.

“Flint Castle and the area does need investment. Flint is an integral part of our nation, and the role that the people of Flint and the area have played in creating modern Wales needs to be celebrated.

“’I’m hopeful that by engaging with the local community, they can come up with something that will be worthy of the area and that the whole nation can celebrate and enjoy.

“’This whole sorry saga goes to show the deficiencies in our education system.

“Surely such a plan would not even have been entertained if the Minister or others involved had a modicum of understanding about our history.

“They really should apologise.”

Earlier in the week deputy leader of the council Bernie Attridge took to Twitter to distance the local authority from the project, adding the council would not provide any funding towards it.

But going forward Flintshire Council hopes to be consulted about the sculpture.

The proposed installation is to be funded by Welsh Government and not Flintshire Council.

The council has also confirmed the proposed art installation would require planning consent.

Cllr Derek Butler, cabinet member for economic development, said: “The council would welcome Welsh Government investment in any of the culture and heritage assets of the county following appropriate discussions with local communities and stakeholders and with the council itself.’’