Monday 23 September 2019

Memorial to IRA hunger striker Hughes smashed

Louth County Council to investigate 'planning issues'


A MEMORIAL at the scenic Long Woman's Grave outside Omeath to the former IRA hunger striker Brendan Hughes has been vandalised.

The Argus understands that the memorial, a granite double seat, was erected within the past couple of weeks.

The seat, which is inscribed: 'Brendan Hughes, The Dark, 1949 - 2008, Deeds Not Words', was smashed on Monday night, just two days before the third anniversary of Mr Hughes' death.

There had been speculation that the erection of the seat could be a source of embarrassment to Sinn Fein president and Louth election candidate, Gerry Adams, who Mr Hughes blamed for the disappearance of Belfast woman Jean McConville. Her body was found at Shelling Hill beach in 2003.

Mr Adams has consistently denied any involvement in her death.

The seat is about a mile away from another memorial, a flag pole surrounded by fencing, that was erected at the site where Mr Hughes's ashes were scattered following his death from cancer.

The site has become a place where members of Mr Hughes' family and friends have gathered annually to remember him.

Louth County Council said on Monday they were investigating 'planning issues' around the memorial.

It is understood the seat was specially commissioned a number of months ago and the Hughes family claim they have been in contact, through a third party, with the landowner on whose site the memorial was erected.

Yesterday ( Tuesday), Mr Hughes' brother, Terry, said the family would make a formal complaint about the vandalism to Gardai and added the vandalism of anyone's memorial was 'disgraceful'.

He said: 'The seat was only put on the site a couple of weeks ago. It was put there because the place where his ashes were scattered was quite inaccessible.

'Ironically, we were going to put it in Omeath, but we thought it might be vandalised there.

'I don't think the people who did this had any real concept of who Brendan was. They are mindless vandals'.

Terry said the memorial would be put back in due course. THE planning issues surrounding the erection of a memorial in the Cooley Mountains to former hunger striker, Brendan 'The Dark' Hughes is being investigated by Louth County Council.

The council issued a statement on Monday about the granite seat, which has since been vandalised, put up in Mr Hughes' memory.

The former IRA man's family said they had been in discussions with the owner of the land, which is near the scenic Long Woman's Grave, and had secured his permission for the memorial.

But locals claimed to The Argus the land is commonage and therefore would be subject to planning permission.

There was also controversy about the seat last week, with suggestions that the timing of its erection could coincide with Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams' bid for a Dail seat in Louth.

In a statement, a council spokesperson said: 'The council have become aware that a seat commemorating the life of an individual, has been erected at a location at the site of the Long Woman's Grave in the Cooley Mountains.

'Initial enquiries into the matter show that the land upon which the seat has been placed is commonage.

'The council can confirm that no permission was sought or given for the erecting of the seat or any ancillary works related to same. The matter is been investigated and appropriate action will taken under the Planning and Development Act'.

Mr Hughes' brother, Terry, said the family had been in touch with the landowner, through a third party, and the memorial was put up on private land.

He said he didn't believe there were planning issues around the memorial and said the location had been picked because of the family's ancestral connections to the area.

In a book called ' Voices from the Grave', published after his death, Mr Hughes, a long-time critic of the Sinn Fein peace strategy, claimed that it was Gerry Adams who ordered that Jean McConville be 'disappeared'.

Her body was found at Shelling Hill beach in 2003, but Mr Adams has consistently denied any involvement in the mother-of-ten's death.

Asked about the timing of the memorial's placement and whether it was connected to Gerry Adams' Dail bid, Terry Hughes said: 'This seat was commissioned and designed long before Gerry Adams announced he was going to run as a candidate in Louth.'