ENNIS councillors from across the political divide came together this week to support a call by Ennis Mayor Fianna Fáil’s Clare Colleran Molloy for maintenance and clean up works to the DeValera monument.
While the town’s deputy mayor, Fine Gael’s Mary Howard who represented the council at a recent commemoration at the monument, has quipped a statue of Michael Collins could be added to the site near the courthouse.
Speaking at a meeting of the Ennis Municipal District Councillor Colleran Molloy described the monument as “kind of sad looking” as she urged that the bronze statue of the former president be examined for maintenance and cleaning. She said that any works needed should be undertaken “as soon as possible”.
Councillor Howard described the monument as “an integral part of our public realm” recalling how when she went to school the statue’s glasses regularly went missing.
“It’s important we embrace our history and not be exclusive” she said adding with a smile, “It’s important we maintain this, and beside it maybe a lovely statue of Michael Collins.”
Seconding Councillor Colleran Molloy’s motion, Fianna Fáil’s Councillor Pat Daly said, “It’s a great site and alot of people visit it, it’s a national monument for Fianna Fáil.”
His party colleague and the council’s newest member Councillor Tom O’Callaghan said the statue, “stands out prominently and I fully support its maintenance regularly.”
Indepent Councillor Ann Norton also voiced her support for the motion saying the monument, “is a part of our town and a part of our culture. It’s so important that structures like these are maintained because that is the history of Clare and the history of Ireland. We want the next generation to ask questions and to be informed, it’s hugely important that everything is maintained irrespective of politics.”
Fine Gael’s Councillor Johnny Flynn said the 1917 election of DeValera “was such a monumental result in our fight for independence”.
Councillor Paul Murphy of Fine Gael also supported the call saying, “It’s very important we look after this”. He recalled how his ancestor was defeated by DeValera in the 1917 election, however “I have no sour grapes supporting DeValera.”
Councillor Colleran Molloy concluded, “It is not in my mind that this is a party issue, it’s an historic issue, this is a sign of our history and our culture. We should be very proud we have sustained democracy since the establishment of this republic.”
Paddy Tiernan, A/Senior Executive Engineer, responded to the motion, “The Council agrees to obtain a conservation report for the monument in the new year so that costs can be determined. Thereafter, a source of funding will need be secured to undertake any works.”
Senior Executive Engineer Ian Chaplin added that the area around the monument is maintained on a daily basis while additional cleaning resources are also put in place ahead of the annual commemoration at the site. He explained the importance of the conservation report, saying when it comes to cleaning the historic monument the council have to be careful what methods they use.
“We can’t just start using chemicals off the shelf, we have to use the best available advice. This is where a conservation report is very important, it would tee up for us what is the best way going forward.
Senior Executive Officer Leonore O’Neill added that if the council seek funding through the Heritage Council for the works a conservation engineers report would be required. She added that the first stage would be engaging the council’s conservation officer for guidance.