Red mist descends on British military memorial in Dublin


A protest action has seen a giant sculpture of a British soldier at the entrance to Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green daubed with red paint.

‘The Hauntings Soldier’ statue represents a soldier returning from war and the six-metre-high installation, which is made from pieces of metal, was installed earlier this month to mark the centenary of the end of World War One.

Mostly lured by the prospect of a regular income amid grinding poverty, an estimated 200,000 Irish citizens served in the British Army during World War One. More than 35,000 lost their lives in it.

The dominating sculpture has drawn a mixed reaction. While praised as an impressive artwork, many city residents denounced it as a memorial to an army responsible for countless atrocities around Ireland and in the city itself, including the original ‘Bloody Sunday’.

“During 1916 the park ran red with the blood of Irish freedom fighters resisting the British Empire,” according to the ‘Crimes of Britain’ Facebook page.

But Sabina Purcell, who is related to one of the Irish victims of the war and was behind efforts to bring the latest British military memorial to Dublin, branded those responsible an “embarrassment”.

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan expressed her disappointment about the vandalism.

“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.”

While the attack on the sculpture was strongly condemned by the Dublin government and establishment, there was also some support -- journalist and commentator Eoin O Murchu praised those involved in the protest.

“Warmest congratulations and thanks to those who poured paint over the shameful monument to British Army militarism which was put up in Stephens Green,” he wrote. “A little bit of Ireland’s honour restored.”

The memorial has since been cleaned up and is due to be relocated by Monday. A “Standing Down” ceremony is to take place on Sunday, according to the Office of Public Works.

Earlier this month, a ‘Ghost Tommy’ memorial to fallen WW1 British soldiers in Carncastle, County Antrim was also knocked over and bent out of shape. It had been condemned by a Sinn Fein councillor, who accused the local council of showing “a total disregard” for nationalists after it was erected on a road between unionist Larne and the nationalist Glens area.

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