Monday 18 December 2017

Monument “desecrated” following booze-fuelled party organised on Facebook

Rubbish and debris left behind in the Grianan of Aileach ring fort
Rubbish and debris left behind in the Grianan of Aileach ring fort
Grianan of Aileach ring fort

Greg Harkin

TWO men have been remanded in custody after one of Ireland’s oldest monuments was ‘desecrated’ and a holy well was defecated in during a drink-fuelled party organised on Facebook.

Rocks were pulled from the 3,000-year-old walls of An Grianan Fort and tourists threatened and mocked during the incident, a court heard.

William Sweeney (19) and Raymond McCormick (21), both from the Creggan area of Derry, admitted criminal damage at the monument in Burt, Co Donegal, when they appeared before Letterkenny District Court earlier today.

Gda Eddie Doherty, from Buncrana Garda Station, told Judge Paul Kelly of the “absolutely disgraceful scenes” which greeted him when he arrived at the fort just before noon last Saturday.

“More than 40 people arrived down (from Derry) on Friday night and they set up a camp with tents in the centre of this historic monument,” said Gda Doherty.

“When I arrived both men were taking rocks from the walls and were throwing them down towards a car park.

“Someone had actually defecated in a holy well which is beside the site, someone had defecated on the paths leading to the site and there was debris everywhere; everything from broken glass bottles to women’s knickers, you name it, it was there,” he said.

Gda Doherty said the area was packed with tourists from all over the world at the time.

The two men, he said, were mocking American tourists and had also targeted a Chinese family who had taken refuge in their car.

Patsy Gallagher, solicitor for Sweeney, of Oakland Park in Derry, and McCormick of Ballbane Pass in Derry, said his clients were “deeply remorseful”  for their behaviour.

“It appears this party was advertised in Facebook and more than 40 other people turned up,” he said.

“They are sickened and embarrassed. Other parties overtook this event on them. The brought great shame on their families and it is having a grave effect on them.”

Judge Paul Kelly condemned the men for their “loutish, ignorant and thuggish” behaviour.

“This particular monument is one of the best preserved of its type – it has stood there for 3,000 years. I went to visit it myself and was very impressed by its condition and the way it has been maintained,” said the judge as he looked at garda pictures of debris from the scene.

“It has stood the test of time and survived various evading armies over the years and then these thugs and louts come in and invade it and start throwing these stones.”

Judge Kelly said Ireland depended on tourism for the economy and “we would be lucky to have any tourists left after this incident”.

He remanded both men to Castlerea Prison until Thursday when they will appear again before Buncrana District Court. He asked for a report on the cost of repairing the damage from the Office of Public Works.

Online Editors

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