Video footage of the steel cross on top of Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest mountain, being cut down was released yesterday and is being examined by police.
The five-minute-long video shows a shadowed figure cutting the cross with an angle-grinder, pushing the top portion, and running away as it falls to the ground. It contains a number of anti-Catholic protest messages, primarily focused on the Catholic Church’s ownership of many of Ireland’s elementary schools. One reads ““If you agree with the reasons behind this act then like and share this video. I am a parent, not affiliated to any[one].”
A group of climbers found the iconic 16.5 foot cross sawed in two when they reached summit of Carrauntoohil, highest mountain in the County Kerry MacGillycuddy Reeks range, on the morning of November 22. The case has been under investigation ever since.
Last weekend, the cross was repaired and restored by volunteers from the Beaufort Community Council, Mountaineering Ireland and Kerry Climbing. It was originally erected in 1976 – a group effort by 100 people who carried the cross up the mountain in pieces and then welded it together at the summit.
The restoration of the cross was widely supported by the local community, though an atheist group did object, saying planning permission should first be secured since the cross does not represent the whole community.
Mountaineering Ireland said that while they would be “absolutely opposed” to erecting the cross if it had never been there, it has over the years become “part of the mountains’ heritage and landscape.”
They also noted that the cross “is on privately owned land and was placed there with the consent of the landowners and the wishes of the local Beaufort community,” that “the landowners have always and continue to permit recreational access to Carrauntoohil” and that “those that cut down the cross did so without debate, without explanation, without the owners’ permission and it is therefore an act of vandalism.”
In a statement after the video was released, local Fine Gael senator (TD) Brendan Griffin said the footage added “a further sinister element to the incident” and asked, “What can we expect next? Will these people start burning down churches or attacking people on their way to mass?
“This type of behavior is simply not acceptable. In this country we advocate an attitude of tolerance and understanding of peoples’ beliefs. There is no acceptance of people who take the law into their own hands and show absolutely no remorse by seeking further publicity.
"The cutting down of the cross at the summit of Carrauntoohil was an act of shameless vandalism and seeking admiration is utterly disgraceful.
“I would like to commend all the local people involved in putting the cross back in its rightful place so quickly after the incident and I welcome the fact that Gardaí are investigating the footage. I wish them every success in bringing the perpetrators to justice.”