A TOWN has been gripped by a moving statue saga that has led to heated exchanges between politicians, clergy and hospital managers.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) has applied for planning permission to retain a life-size statue of the Sacred Heart in the grounds of a local hospital. But angry local councillors and senior clergy want the monument returned to a perch above the main door of Killarney Community Hospital where it had been in situ for over 70 years.
The row dates back to March of last year when the HSE removed the statue from above the entrance and relocated it to the grounds of the hospital.
A spokesman said the decision was made on health and safety grounds and denied claims it was part of a plan to remove all religious artifacts from the hospital.
But the move sparked a public outcry in Killarney with councillors backing a call from the Bishop of Kerry for the statue to be returned to its original site.
And Bord Pleanála later ruled that planning permission should have been sought for the relocation of the statue and council officials warned the HSE it would be issued with court proceedings if it failed to formally respond to a formal warning.
It is understood the HSE is still determined that the statue should remain on a plinth on the grounds of the hospital and an application for retention has now been submitted to the planning authorities in Killarney.
Killarney Town Council’s planning section expects to make a decision on the application by late November.