Republic of Ireland news

Vandalism of Dublin's Haunting Soldier sculpture 'an embarrassment to Ireland'

The World War One sculpture entitled The Haunting Soldier is cleaned after it was vandalized with red paint in St Stephen's Green, Dublin. Picture by Niall Carson, PA Wire 
David Young, Press Association

A sculpture erected in Dublin to mark the First World War armistice has been vandalised.

Red paint was thrown over The Haunting Soldier in St Stephen's Green overnight on Wednesday.

The six-metre high artwork portrays a weary soldier returning from war.

Designed by English-based artist and blacksmith Martin Galbavy, it is made from scraps of metal including horse shoes, spanners, car jacks and brake discs.

The sculpture was due to stand in the popular city centre park until November 26.

Culture Minister Josepha Madigan voiced disappointment about the attack.

"This installation honours all those who died in the terrible suffering of World War One," she 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."

Workers from the Office of Public Works (OPW) were tasked today with cleaning up the sculpture.

 The Republic's Office of Public Works has cleaned the paint from the sculpture

The Haunting Soldier is designed to evoke the fragility and suffering of those who survived the war and returned home to an uncertain and difficult future.

The ghostly figure, which was constructed by Chris Hannam of Dorset Forge and Fabrication, was brought to Ireland by Dublin-based solicitor Sabina Purcell, who discovered she had a family connection to those who served in the war.

Remembrance wreaths and flowers laid at the base of the sculpture were also damaged in the attack.

One of the wreaths splattered with paint was laid by the New Zealand All Blacks ahead of their rugby match with Ireland last Saturday.

 A wreath laid by the All Blacks rugby team in honor of Donegal man Dave Gallaher was also covered in red paint

It was a tribute to the first captain of the All Blacks Dave Gallaher. Donegal-born Gallaher was killed in action at Ypres in 1917.

The laurel wreath had been laid last week by players Sam Whitelock, Liam Squire and Nepo Laulala.

Sabina Purcell, who was behind efforts to bring the sculpture to Ireland, branded those responsible an "embarrassment" to Ireland.

Dublin-based solicitor Sabina Purcell brought the World War One commemorative sculpture to Ireland. Picture by Niall Carson, PA Wire

"I'm very upset," she told the Press Association.

"This does not reflect who we are or what we have become and whoever did this is an embarrassment to us.

"This was given to us on loan as a gift and they just simply didn't seem to appreciate that or even care.

"If I had my time to do it again, I would do it all over again. I'm not going to be dictated to by these people who did this.

"The people of Ireland have responded in their thousands coming to see it every day."

 The sculpture stands six metres tall

Ms Purcell said she was particularly upset that a wreath left by the All Blacks had been damaged.

"It's very, very disrespectful," she said.

"But we are keeping it as a symbol - because it's not who we are."

The solicitor hailed the repair work carried out by the Office of Public Works (OPW) on Thursday morning.

"The OPW have done a marvellous job, they have more or less got it all back to how it was," she said.

"It's spectacular and it'll be here until Monday."

She added: "I am so honoured by the respect shown to it by the public that what this person did is just a nothing, because the respect and support and response has been phenomenal and there'll be even more visitors now, turning an horrendous negative into an absolute positive. So it's been totally counterproductive."

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