Dublin memorial to abuse victims refused permission

Plans would have had negative impact on Garden of Remembrance

Plans to build a memorial to victims of institutional abuse in the Garden of Remembrance on Dublin's Parnell Square have been refused by An Bord Pleanála.

The application by the Office of Public Works to build the monument was approved by Dublin City Council last May despite several objections including one from an abuse survivors’ support group. It was subsequently appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

A number of parties, including Irish Survivors of Child Abuse and former industrial school resident and Independent city councillor Mannix Flynn objected on the grounds that it interfered with the existing memorial to those who died fighting for Irish freedom and that the association between the two memorials was inappropriate.

Others, including the Irish Georgian Society, objected to the effect the proposal would have on the structure and character of the historic 18th century square.


Despite the council having approved the application, An Bord Pleanála said the plans were in conflict with the council’s own rules for the protection of the special interest and character of conservation areas under Dublin City Development Plan “The proposal therefore would not be in accordance with proper planning and sustainable development,” An Bord Pleanála said.

It also said that as the Garden of Remembrance is a “State memorial” used for State ceremonial occasions and was of national importance, it was inappropriate to put a “second unrelated memorial” on the site.

“It is considered, notwithstanding the importance of the creation of a memorial to commemorate the victims of institutional abuse, that the proposed development would have an adverse impact on the setting, character and function of the Garden of Remembrance,” the board said.

The €500,000 Journey of Light memorial, designed by Dublin-based Studio Negri with Hennessy & Associates, featured a covered passageway, lit at night and flanked by fossilised limestone walls and waterfalls. It was to be put up behind Oisín Kelly’s Children of Lir monument commemorating the 1916 Rising, in line with the Irish flag, with the State apology to abuse victims inscribed at child’s-eye level.

The proposal also sought a gated opening in the railings along Parnell Square West to access the memorial and new service access gates to Parnell Square North on a 2,140sq m site.

The Journey of Light was chosen in July last year as the memorial for abuse victims by a committee set up by the Department of Education following a year-long design competition.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times