A garda scene-of-crime unit is being dispatched today to the top of Ireland’s highest mountain, Carrauntoohil, near Killarney after a mountain-top Christian cross was discovered to have been felled.
The destruction of the 38-year-old summit steel cross, which stood just under 2m, was discovered by climbers on Saturday morning and posted on the Kerry Climbing website.
The group was guiding walkers from the Royal College of Surgeons when it was told the cross had been cut down.
Sergeant Dermot O’Connell of Killarney gardaí said the garda was treating the matter with the utmost seriousness. They were appealing for witnesses, in particular “the last person who saw the cross standing” to come forward.
“We are treating this as criminal damage,” said Sgt O’Connell.
The Aircorps helicopter is expected to assist gardaí with ferrying of equipment and personnel in the examination.
The gardaí wish to establish when exactly the damage occurred. Although it was reported on Saturday morning, it may been carried out some time previously.
It is believed a so-called ‘con saw’, petrol-powered like a chainsaw, was hauled up the mountain and used to cut the steel around a foot from the base. It is suspected that whoever cut it did not act alone and a group of people and a degree of planning may have been involved.
Some of Kerry’s most experienced detectives are expected to visit the scene, which is to be photographed and forensically examined.
The cross, which was made by workers at Liebherr Ireland in Killarney for the parish of Beaufort, was erected in 1976 and it took 100 people to erect it and weld it in place.
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