‘Monument to British imperialism’ in People’s Park

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John Gilligan, Independent. Photo: Cian Reinhardt

“A GROTESQUE and intrusive monument to British Imperialism,” is how a city councillor described plans to erect a memorial to the Limerick soldiers and civilians who died in World War 1.

John Gilligan (Ind) accused the Limerick Civic Trust of “giving the two fingers” to the local authority and turning the People’s Park into a “cemetery” after they appealed the council’s refusal to give planning permission for the monument.

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The Civic Trust succeeded in having the council decision overturned by An Bord Pleanala but, in an impassioned speech at a this month’s full council meeting, Cllr Gilligan pointed out that “the council own the park – not the Civic Trust.”

The application was made in the name of the seventh Earl of Limerick Edmund Pery and involved the erection of a cross and eight stone slabs, inscribed with the names of the dead.

The angry city north councillor was urging the council to refuse to hand over no 2 Pery Square to the Trust until they explained their “insult to this council”.

“They are bowing down to British Imperialism and the landed gentry. They have disgraced those who made us a proud nation. Out of respect for all those who won our freedom, we must not hand it back to the British monarchy.

“They (Limerick Civic Trust) don’t answer to us as a council – they answer to Lord Limerick.

“I have no problem with a war memorial per se but these poor men were cannon fodder for Queen and Kaiser and now they want us to doff the cap to the landed gentry”.

The council were discussing a proposal to give the Civic Trust a lengthy lease on No 2 Pery Square, Culture House,  for a nominal rent which would effectively give the Trust full control of the building.

Cmhlr Séighin O Ceallaigh (SF) said that the council members were not being asked about the war memorial.

“We are being asked to vote on whether or not to dispose of Culture House and my view is that this should be sent back to the cultural committee. The Civic Trust should come in and give a detailed presentation and be there to answer questions”.

The proposal to lease the building to the Civic Trust was passed by 21 votes to nine with three abstentions.