EVEN if it was just some sad, drunken gobdaw who threw the wreaths placed on Cork’s First World War memorial earlier this week to mark the July 1 opening of the Battle of the Somme and to remember the estimated 4,000 Corkmen who died in that war into the Lee it was a dispicable, uncomprehending act of ignorance and vandalism.
Tragically, in a country where a tiny minority of violent nationalists still imagine that they have some sort of mandate more sinister motives cannot be ruled out. Hopefully, it was just an act of a clown but without identifying the culprit it is impossible to rule out other possibilities. Not only was it a stupid thing to do, it was deeply offensive and underlines the fact that despite decades of progress and improved relationships on this island and between these islands a strand of sectarian nationalism festers away just under the surface.
Gerry White, chairman of the Western Front Association, pointed out that the monument was “built by the Cork Independent Ex-Servicemen’s Club. They were Catholic working-class nationalists and it was unveiled on St Patrick’s Day, 1925”. This suggests that the city needs to make an appropriate response. Lord Mayor Des Cahill and his council colleagues should replace those wreaths in a ceremony that would reflect the feeling of the city in a gesture that would go a long way to undoing the hurt caused by those who so shamefully removed the wreaths.
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