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Caged Virgin statue sparks war of words

A LOCAL authority is at the centre of a religious row after the display of an artwork depicting the Virgin Mary in a cage with a large hole through her head.

The statue has also had its face removed.

Cork City Council has insisted there was "no intention to cause offence" by putting the artwork, 'Now Look Again', on display in City Hall as part of the 'Legacy' exhibition to celebrate Irish-Chinese cultural links.

However, the controversial piece has sparked a storm of protest with members of the public contacting the Diocese of Cork & Ross to complain.

Several people have demanded that Bishop John Buckley personally contact the council to express his concern.

Others have demanded that the artwork be immediately removed from public display. The diocese confirmed that Dr Buckley had received complaints about the artwork but declined to comment further.

Dr Buckley has not seen the offending piece – and the diocese said no comment will be made until the matter is properly considered.

The piece is the work of artist Michelle O'Shea and she stressed that the image was aimed at making people think about the contradictions in modern society.

"The Virgin Mary statue embodies all the virtues ... beauty, love, grace, forgiveness and so on," she said.

"Her faceless features allow one to see the diverse perspectives contained within social, religious, political and historical influences, dominated by judgement, fear and control."

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