Wicklow’s Chief Fire Officer Aidan Dempsey and Wicklow TD John Brady have condemned acts of vandalism on a memorial in Bray to two brave firefighters killed in the line of duty.
Mr Dempsey said he was ‘saddened and shocked’ to see the monument defaced, particularly so soon after a ceremony on September 26 to mark the 15th anniversary of the deaths of those it commemorates: Sub Station Officer Brian Murray and Fire Fighter Mark O’Shaughnessy, who died tackling a fire in Bray in 2007.
Deputy Brady described the act as ‘an attack on the entire community’, calling for CCTV and asking why new lights that were recently installed had not yet been turned on.
“Following previous acts of vandalism my colleagues Cllr Dermot O’Brien and Cllr Grace McManus succeeded in getting the council to erect public lighting at the memorial to act as a deterrent,” explained Deputy Brady. “However, the lighting hasn’t been switched on yet, despite it being installed a number of months ago. The council must immediately get the lighting connected, the installation of CCTV must also be examined, this is something that I don’t think anybody thought would ever be needed.”
He added: ““This is highly disrespectful and insensitive to the two heroes that paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty and to their families. It’s also an attack on the entire community who think so highly of Brian and Mark.”
The first image of the damage appeared on a Facebook forum on October 1, causing outrage throughout the community, who then rallied to remove the graffiti. By Monday evening the monument had been restored.
Explaining the significance of this time of year and both the acts of defacing and restoring, Chief Fire Officer for Wicklow, Aidan Dempsey, expressed pride in the quick actions to honour his fallen colleagues.
He said: “It is an emotional time of the year for all members of the fire service in Wicklow, and particularly in Bray. We hold an annual wreath laying event both at the fire station, which is attended by fire fighters from all over the country, and there is also a wreath laying at the memorial itself by the fire crew in Bray. It’s a time that we remember, and our thoughts and prayers are with both families, the Murray and O’Shaughnessy families and all of their wider friends and colleagues.
He added: “I know at least three or four groups and other individuals when they heard about the vandalism went down to restore the memorial, and it is pristine again. There were fire fighters from Bray, Municipal Council staff and others who I’m still trying to identify. It’s pristine again, thanks to their efforts.”
Concluding, Mr Dempsey said: “I’m saddened and shocked that anyone would deface the monument, but I would like to thank everyone who responded so quickly to clean the memorial.”
The tag seen on the memorial's graffiti has been seen by locals in other parts of Bray. Deputy Brady made this appeal: “I appeal to anyone that has any information on who vandalised the memorial to please go to the Gardaí or they can contact me.”