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Uproar at plans to move War Memorial from O'Connor Sq.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Uproar at plans to move War Memorial from O'Connor Sq. thumbnailThe latest drawings out for public consultation show an arrow pointing to a proposed plaque to indicate where the War Memorial stood.

SERIOUS controversy has arisen over a proposal to remove the War Memorial from O'Connor Square as part of the Tullamore street enhancement project.

The memorial honours all those who fought in the war of 1914-1918 and later, by way of dedication, the Second World War.

The memorial has been a prominent feature in O'Connor Square since 1926.

In excess of 500 Offaly people died in the First World War and around 3,000 served with 100 of them coming from Tullamore town.

The people of neighbouring Clara were prominent subscribers to the memorial as that town too lost a large number of people in the war,

It has now emerged that this latest plan for the Square includes the relocation of the memorial to another site, with Lloyd Town Park cited as a possibility.

In the final drawings which are currently out for public consultation, it appears a plaque is proposed to replace the historical monument.

Councillors Tommy McKeigue, Brendan Killeavy and Declan Harvey say they knew nothing about this and Cllr McKeigue says he strongly objects to the memorial being moved.

''The monument has to stay I will be making a submission regarding keeping it in the Square. People don't mind it being moved as long as it's in the Square. That was produced locally with local limestone by Molloy's quarry. It depicts everything that's good about Tullamore,'' said the Fine Gael councillor.

In another twist it is understood members of the British Legion met with Town Manager, Mr Sean Murray and Mr Ed Kelly of the planning department who it's believed offered to move the monument to two other locations in the Square or the town park.

The British Legion members felt the town park would be the best location as they were concerned that it might be disrespected in O'Connor Square as there are plans for a nightclub there.

Meanwhile, Tullamore native and former town planner, Fergal MacCabe has also lodged an objection to the planned move and has written two letters to the Town Manager.

Mr McCabe said the Memorial is designated as a Protected Structure of Regional status in the Council's Development Plan 2010-2016.

''The Heritage Protection Guidelines 2011 state that: 'It should be noted that Planning Authorities cannot carry out works that contravene their Development Plans. Including objectives to protect the architectural heritage.'

''Without its prior removal from the list of the Protected Structures, any proposal to remove or relocate the Memorial would represent a clear material contravention of the provisions of the adopted Plan and could not be legitimately included as an element of the Part 8 Process,'' he outlined in one letter.

Mr MacCabe also points out that an objective of the Town Development Plan is for the pedestrianisation of the north side of O'Connor Square and he has noted that in the latest drawing there seems to be a provision for ten car parking spaces on the north side.

Meanwhile, in a statement issued yesterday [Tuesday] to the Tribune, former councillor Sean O'Brien said: ''Many will object to the removal of the War Memorial to the Town Park and I certainly agree with them. I also object to the space beside the Library as you approach the Tanyard being converted into two parking spaces. This area was to be a seated area with shrubs and flowers and it was originally proposed as a place for the ONE Memorial.''

The matter will be discussed at this week's meeting of Tullamore Municipal District.

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