HSE appeals decision on removal of statue


THE HSE South has appealed a decision by Killarney Town Council refusing permission to remove a 1930s Christian statue from the roof of the town’s community hospital.

The health executive has paid fees of €4,500 to lodge the appeal with An Bord Pleanála against the council decision. It has also engaged leading heritage and planning consultants in its bid to overturn the town council decision.

The sudden removal of the large red and white statue of Christ from over the central front door of the hospital in March 2010 provoked furore locally and has already been before An Bord Pleanála by way of referral.

The bishop of Kerry, the Killarney Soroptimists and others have publicly questioned health and safety reasons put forward by the HSE. At one stage there was a threat of a march on the hospital.

Initially, the council planners said no planning permission was needed, but after the matter was referred to An Bord Pleanála by then mayor of Killarney, Donal Grady, the HSE was forced to apply to the council.

Last month it refused the HSE’s application for retention permission to remove the statue. Planning consultant McCutcheon Mulcahy, who lodged the appeal on behalf of the HSE, stated that the statue was removed “primarily” for health and safety reasons.

“While there is no report stating that there was a significant risk, it was considered prudent, on the basis of a history of subsidence and structural repairs carried out to the building, to remove the statue,” according to the planning consultants.

Research attached to the appeal, carried out by Cork-based heritage consultant John Cronin and associates, points out that the hospital is not a protected structure and states the statue was probably not part of the hospital’s original design.

When it first opened in 1939 the hospital was run by the Sisters of Mercy and it was they who donated the statue, Cronins states. Placing the statue to one side “in a prominent location is wholly appropriate as a physical reminder of the religious order’s long involvement in the running of this critical local health facility”, the consultant says.