A demand by Mayo County Council for the immediate removal of a roadside memorial to a 21-year-old youth who was murdered almost two years ago has been criticised by the victim’s family as “heartbreaking” and “insensitive”.
The council says the memorial to Joe Deacy on the N5 near Swinford poses “a visual distraction to passing motorists”.
However, the Deacy family point out that the memorial is modest in size and that numerous other similar monuments throughout the country are being allowed to remain in situ by the local relevant authority.
Joe Deacy from St Alban’s, Hertfordshire, in Britain, was discovered with head injuries outside a house at Gortnasillagh, Swinford, on August 12, 2017. He later died in hospital, and gardaí subsequently launched a murder investigation.
Although a number of people have been questioned, nobody has ever been charged in connection with the murder.
Last summer, a floral memorial to Mr Deacy, a talented GAA footballer, was vandalised. At Christmas, the grieving Deacy family, who are regular visitors to Mayo, erected a more permanent memorial but they have now been informed that the structure must be removed as it does not have planning permission.
Adrian Deacy, father of Joe Deacy, says this demand by the county council adds further pain to his family’s continuing grief: “We are aware that planning permission was not sought, prior to the memorials being erected, and for that we apologise, but we do not believe that we are alone in this oversight.
We also believe that the memorial became a source of huge comfort to Joe’s many relations and friends who live in the vicinity of Bohola. This became a place where they could visit and pay their respects, as well as to try and come to terms with the fact that Joe’s murderer(s) have still not been brought to justice.
“It has been 18 months since my son was put down, in a manner not befitting an animal let alone a human being, so the least we would like to do now is to allow all of the people that knew and loved Joe, plus the many others from all over Mayo that have expressed their kindness and sympathy to our family, to be allowed to continue to pay their respects in this manner.”
The Deacy family say the ‘visual distraction’ claim by the council is spurious as “the memorial is sited at ground level and is barely visible from passing cars”.
Mayo County Council, in a statement, has confirmed that it has asked that the memorial be removed: “We respect the desire of grieving families to erect such monuments to loved ones but the safety of all road users is a top priority.”
Michael Kilcoyne, a member of Mayo County Council, supports the Deacy family, saying that the demand to remove the memorial is “grossly insensitive”.