The council is set to finally reinstate the ‘Peace for All’ monument near Aghalane Bridge almost a year-and-half after it was ripped from its plinth in a daring, yet ultimately botched, attempted theft.
Erected south of the George Mitchell Peace Bridge on the Cavan-Fermanagh border, the eight-foot bronze sculpture of Cú Chulainn and Mother Ireland was created by self-taught Kildare artist Derek A Fitzsimons to symbolise peace in the North after the Good Friday Agreement.
Aghalane bridge, over the Woodford River, was blown up in 1972 during the height of the Troubles by loyalist paramilitaries but was re-built in 1999. Mr Fitzsimons’ statue was added as pointed reminder of rebuilding relationships and reconciliation, and unveiled at the time by Lord Dubs and Minister Noel Dempsey.
In August 2016 however the artwork was left lying on the ground having been wrenched from its marble plinth, and subsequently remained in secure storage at a Council site.
Investigations at the time surmised that those behind the attempted theft had potentially considered it as valuable for scrap, but failed to take into account its vast weight, eventually abandoning their folly and their badly damaged trailer on a side road a short distance away.
The attempted theft follows a spate of similar incidents elsewhere nationally concerning historic and iconic artistic pieces of art.
In the wake of the attempted theft Mr Fitzsimons, who now resides in Borneo, and the local community in Belturbet called for the reinstatement of the sculpture. Early assessments indicated the cost of putting the sculpture back, together with installing new security measures to protect it in future, could run as high as €10,000.
But asked at a recent meeting of elected members to the Cavan-Belturbet Municipal District area, Senior Engineer Derry Scanlon said that the work would “get done in the next week or so”.
He explained too that a low wall will be erected surrounding ensuring there are no similar attempts to steal the iconic sculpture.
Meanwhile, Mr Scanlon indicated at the meeting that work would begin in the next “two to three weeks” on restoration and remedial works on Crom Bridge.