A plaque erected on Cabra Bridge in North Dublin last month in honour of volunteers who fought in the First Battalion during the 1916 Rising has been ripped off the wall and smashed to pieces.
The plaque, the latest in a series celebrating the centenary of the rising, was unveiled during a commemorative ceremony on December 15 by Dublin’s Lord Mayor Nial Ring.
Relatives of those who fought in the first battalion also attended and some laid wreaths in memory of their loved ones.
In an act of vandalism last Thursday night, the granite plaque which was part-funded by Dublin City Council, was torn from the wall and smashed into three pieces.
It was then discarded in a nearby resident’s garden where it was found on Friday morning and recovered by a member of the Cabra Historical Society.
Brian O’Neill, Chair of the 1916 Relatives Association, said he was shocked to learn of such a "hostile" move and said one individual in particular had previously made threats to forcefully remove it from the bridge.
“I had heard that there was one particular person who had threatened something when it went up and I gather that one person lives locally,” he said.
“There is probably no point in speculating as to who is responsible for this whether it was kids or a group of individuals but obviously because somebody threatened something they become the immediate suspect.
“But really it could be anybody,” he added.
Dublin City Council is currently investigating the matter and is examining ways in which it can be returned, including replacing it completely with a copper plaque which could be embedded in the wall.
Throughout 2016 the council erected a number of other plaques in honour of those who fought in the Irish War of Independence including at the Four Courts on Church St and St James’s Hospital.
Independent councillor Cieran Perry said he was aware of a “small minority” who were not in favour of erecting the plaques but that he had never come across this type of "premeditated" behaviour.
“I am both shocked and disappointed and I haven’t really come across instances like this in the past,” he explained.
“I’ve been involved in raising quite a few plaques and I haven’t come across this type of thing. It looks to me that this was premeditated.”
“There would be a small minority who wouldn’t be supportive of commemorating the rising. The plaque was fairly well secured with at least three or four bolts so, whoever it was, they went to quite a bit of bother to get it down.”
Dublin City Council has said it was informed of damage to the plaque on Saturday January 5 but that they had previously observed it as normal two days earlier.
The council said it has asked gardai to investigate the vandalism.
However it is unclear if a replacement plaque will be erected or if the smashed one can be fixed.
“The matter is currently being investigated, Dublin City Council have requested a specialist to examine the plaque to advise if it can be repaired and re-erected,” a spokeswoman said.
Gardaí at Mountjoy Garda Station are investigating the incident using nearby CCTV footage to identify the individual or individuals involved. There has been no arrests made and investigations are ongoing, a spokesperson said.