Friday 20 September 2019

Minister slams vandalism of WW1 statue as gardaí launch investigation

  • Gardaí launch investigation after statue is vandalised overnight
  • 'There is no bravery in throwing paint at a statue in the middle of the night' - minister
  • Team of cleaners tasked with removing the red gloss paint from the installation
  • Statue is due to remain in St Stephen's Green until Monday, coinciding with the centenary commemorations to mark ending of World War I
Park staff clean off the red paint which was daubed on the 'Hauntings Soldier' at St Stephen's Green. Picture: Frank McGrath
Park staff clean off the red paint which was daubed on the 'Hauntings Soldier' at St Stephen's Green. Picture: Frank McGrath
Rachel Farrell

Rachel Farrell

Gardai have launched an investigation after a statue to commemorate the ending of World War 1 was vandalised with red paint overnight.

The Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan, expressed her “disappointment” about the vandalism to 'The Haunting Soldier' sculpture, which she unveiled in St Stephen’s Green earlier this month.

“This installation honours all those who died in the terrible suffering of World War 1,” Ms Madigan said.

“It is incredibly moving and has been proved immensely popular. There is no bravery in throwing paint at a statue in the middle of the night.

Remembrance: ‘The Haunting Soldier’ – depicting a weary World War I soldier – stands six metres high in St Stephen’s Green, Dublin. It commemorates the centenary of the ending of the war. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA
Remembrance: ‘The Haunting Soldier’ – depicting a weary World War I soldier – stands six metres high in St Stephen’s Green, Dublin. It commemorates the centenary of the ending of the war. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA

“My Department has been in touch with the OPW in relation to the damage and I understand that the installation will be cleaned up today.”

A team of cleaners was this morning tasked with removing the red paint from the installation.

They worked using solvents, brushes and power washers to remove the gloss paint, which cannot be removed by water alone.

Gardai also remained at the scene this morning after the incident.

The sculpture was made from scraps of metal, including horse shoes, spanners, car jacks and brake discs.

It was brought to Ireland by Dublin-based solicitor Sabina Purcell, who discovered that she had a family connection to those who had served in the Great War.

Park Staff clean off the red paint which was daubed on the Hauntings Solider at St Stephens Green, last night.Picture Credit:Frank McGrath
Park Staff clean off the red paint which was daubed on the Hauntings Solider at St Stephens Green, last night.Picture Credit:Frank McGrath

This led Ms Purcell to explore how the nation could remember and commemorate the soldiers from Ireland who gave their lives in World War I and also those who survived and returned home.

The six-metre high sculpture arrived in St Stephen’s Green park in Dublin on November 4.

The ghostly figure, depicted as a weary soldier returning from battle, was created by Martin Galbravy and constructed by Chris Hannam at Dorset Forge and Fabrication.

A garda spokesperson confirmed that they are investigating the criminal damage to the sculpture done overnight.

“Gardaí are investigating criminal damage caused to a statue in the St. Stephens Green area of Dublin on 22nd November 2018 at approximately 2am,” a spokesperson said.

“No arrests have been made at this stage. A scene is currently in place at the statue. Investigations are continuing.”

A spokesperson for the Office of Public Works (OPW) said that the statue will remain in St Stephen's Green until Monday November 26 as scheduled, coinciding with the centenary commemorations to mark the ending of World War I.

"OPW Staff are in the process of removing the red paint from the Haunting Soldier which was vandalised overnight and this should be completed shortly," they said.

"The Statue will remain on display in St. Stephen’s Green Park until Sunday evening, 26th November before heading back to the UK."

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