Monday 23 April 2018

Workers who saved Kilmainham unhappy over snub at ceremony

President Higgins was forced to introduce himself at event. Photo: Damien Eagers
President Higgins was forced to introduce himself at event. Photo: Damien Eagers

Ryan Nugent

One of the original volunteer workers who restored Kilmainham Gaol is "disappointed" that his board were not introduced to the President at an event last week.

Damien Cassidy (74) was part of a group of volunteers who began working on the prison in May 1960, in order to ensure the buildings did not fall into complete disrepair.

This included replacing a full glass roof and helping transform the prison into the tourist attraction it now is.

It was passed on to the State in 1987 and Mr Cassidy is on the board of visitors for the famous prison.

Mr Cassidy told the Irish Independent that board members were present at a wreath-laying event on Easter Sunday, at the Stonebreakers Yard in Kilmainham Gaol, but were not introduced to either acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny or President Michael D Higgins.

The President is believed to have introduced himself to the board of his own accord.

"The protocol was wrong. The voluntary workers should have been paramount," Mr Cassidy said.

"I think it was the wish of the minister that that should happen, but it didn't happen."

Mr Cassidy said the situation was compounded when he looked at the surrounding buildings at the event.

"I looked at the wall behind me and remembered I was up the scaffolding there to repair the roof on the building that adjoins with the Stonebreakers Yard," he said.

The opening of the Court House at the prison on Tuesday will be much more inclusive of volunteers, Mr Cassidy has been told.

The Government was contacted on the issue but no response was made available before going to print.

Irish Independent

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