News that the stolen Manannán Mac Lir statue has been recovered has been greeted with widespread delight, however, one local councillor has expressed concern British soldiers were involved in its recovery.
Sinn Fein Colr. Anne Brolly said she was glad to hear the statue had been recovered because “we had talked about replacing it at the same cost so, at least, it will save ratepayers money, but I am still concerned we can’t guarantee its safety in such an isolated area. I hope common sense will prevail.”
The statue is understood to have been found by The Bannside Ramblers. Police said the ramblers “advised members of A company 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Regiment soldiers who helped police recover the statue”.
Colr. Brolly said: “I would express concern that soldiers were involved in the recovery of the sculpture. I thought the British Army had all gone home.”
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said soldiers were in the area on a routine training exercise for “rest of world operations”, and added: “The MoD is happy and delighted the sculpture has been found. We are looking forward to it being reinstated to its proper place overlooking the Foyle estuary.”
Meanwhile, ‘Game of Thrones’ sculptor, John Darren Sutton said it was “fantastic news” the popular piece of art, which took six months to craft and cost in the region of £10,000, had been found.
Mr Sutton told the ‘Journal’ he would be assessing the damage in the next few days.
Valerie Richmond of Limavady Borough Council said she was “delighted” the sculpture had been found, and said she hoped to meet with Mr Sutton in the next few days to assess any damage.
“We’re just delighted the statue has been found because, I suppose, we didn’t really think we would see it again,” the director of development services told the ‘Journal’.
“Now we will have to assess the damage and see if it’s possible the sculpture can be restored, but we are just delighted it has been recovered. It’s a relief.”
SDLP Colr. Gerry Mullan said it was wonderful news, and said the Manannán Mac Lir sculpture “that was unceremoniously removed from Gortmore viewing point” was “in police hands”.
“Seemingly, it has suffered some damage, and whether it can be restored or not has not yet been established but, fingers crossed, one of our borough’s finest tourist attractions will be returned in all it’s glory,” said Colr. Mullan.
TUV Councillor Boyd Douglas said: “I’m glad it has been found, and I hope it can be replaced because it’ll save ratepayers’ money. If it is to be put back then there has to be some sort of security measure, such as railing put around it, to stop people getting so close to it as they did before.”
Mari Ward Foster, who started a Facebook campaign - ‘Bring back Manannan Mac Lir the Sea God’ - calling for the sculpture’s return said the discovery was “miraculous”. She told almost 7,000 followers of the page: “The most amazing news has just come through - Manannan has been found. All our prayers have been answered. He will return!!”
Speaking to the ‘Journal’, Ms Foster said: “I’m just astounded and thrilled. It’s the best news of the last four weeks. It’s amazing. I hope now it can be put back in the same place. It’s miraculous because I thought it had been shredded and was in the bottom of the Foyle. It’s just fabulous.”