A memorial to Irish men and women who served and died in Allied service in South-East Asia during the period 1959 to 1975 is set to be erected in Ennis.
Talks are also underway by Ennis Town Council in relation to the proposed development of a peace park and a sculpture or plaque to remember all Irish men and women who died in all past wars.
Elected members of the local authority unanimously supported the proposal for the memorial to those who served in South-East Asia by a US-based veterans representative group. The memorial will be erected in the vicinity of Clonroadmore Park area of the town on November 11, 2013, as part of International Remembrance Day.
The council says the event will also feature as part of The Gathering Ireland 2013 as the memorial could potentially serve as a tourist attraction to the estimated 1.4 million veterans in America.
It is proposed that the names of Irish men and women who served and lost their lives in South-East Asia, including Vietnam, will be listed on the memorial, which will carry the inscription, “The people of the allied nations express their heartfelt gratitude for the service and sacrifice of those above and to their families, loved ones and the Irish nation”.
Talks are underway in relation to the proposed development of a dedicated peace park and a sculpture or plaque.
The proposal to erect the memorial in Ennis was first made by veteran and frequent visitor to the Clare County Capital, Matthew Carroll. He has built up relationships with a number of people from the local business and cultural community.
A spokesperson for Ennis Town Council stated, “Ennis, particularly given its proximity to Shannon International Airport, is viewed as an ideal location for such a memorial. Mr Carroll, who has met with all Ennis Town councillors, has strongly suggested that Ennis and Clare could be designated a rest and recuperation location for veterans and also for American soldiers on leave. Mr Carroll believes the first Irish memorial would be visited by large numbers of American and Irish families.
“The elected members, council officials and Ennis Chamber representatives who met with Mr Carroll, referred to the sensitivity surrounding any war memorial, including one which incorporates Irish men and women who served in the Vietnam War.
“While acknowledging this fact, Ennis Town Council does not wish to turn its back on the Irish men and women who lost their lives and those who served and may currently be in need of advocacy and support. Therefore, the proposed memorial is dedicated to those Irish who served and lost their lives during military service in South-East Asia and is not a war memorial. It is not a judgement on the rights and wrongs of war but is a focus on creating a space for reflection for families of Irish men and women who served in allied military service in South-East Asia.”
Mr Carroll’s advocacy organisation, which is independent of the state, will fund the proposed memorial in Ennis. The council says it will now work with Mr Carroll to deliver the project as a council project funded by a third party.
At the Ennis Town Council meeting that supported the memorial, Councillor Paul O’Shea called for the erection of a sculpture or plaque to remember all Irish men and women who died in all past wars and served and those in service with the United Nations Peace Keepers. Councillor Johnny Flynn urged that the council consider the development of a Peace Park to incorporate a potential World War I Clare fatalities remembrance memorial.
Town manager Ger Dollard stated the South-East Asian memorial was a “standalone project”, which is being funded privately by Mr Carroll’s advocacy organisation. He commented that while Ennis Town Council are not in a position to fund memorial projects at the moment, the other proposed projects could be considered in the future.