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Call for permanent war memorial in Dublin city as Hauntings Soldier is removed

The World War I sculpture, which was on temporary display in Stephen’s Green, was vandalised last week.

original (1) OPW staff cleaning the soldier last week. Source: Aoife Barry/TheJournal.ie

THERE HAVE BEEN calls for a permanent World War I memorial in Dublin city centre.

The Hauntings Soldier, which has been on temporary display in St Stephen’s Green since 4 November, is due to be removed tomorrow.

The sculpture was vandalised with red paint in the early hours of last Thursday.

Gardaí are investigating the incident, which Culture Minister Josepha Madigan described as “a profane desecration of a really symbolic symbol of all the people who died during the first World War, whether they’re English or Irish”.

Fine Gael Senator Frank Feighan also condemned the incident, saying: “Whatever views people have about World War I, there is no justification for this type of behaviour.”

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Feighan told TheJournal.ie the vandalism was an isolated incident and “doesn’t reflect the great generosity and respect the vast majority of Irish people have shown over the last few weeks during the commemorations to mark the centenary of the ending of World War I”.

The senator, who is vice-chair of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly and a member of the Good Friday Implementation Committee, has called for a permanent memorial to be built in Dublin city centre to commemorate the 200,000 Irish soldiers who fought, and 50,000 who died, in World War I. 

Feighan said the Irish National War Memorial Gardens in Islandbridge is “very fitting” but that another memorial should be built in “a more central and accessible location” such as Merrion Square or St Stephen’s Green.

“When the idea of a such a war memorial was first discussed in the 1920s, Merrion Square was suggested as a possible venue before Islandbridge became the location.

“Indeed, there is a memorial in Merrion Square to members of the Defence Forces who have died serving the State, which was erected 10 years ago,” he said. 

Feighan has previously called for people to wear a Shamrock Poppy to commemorate Irish soldiers who fought in World War I.  

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Órla Ryan

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