By Damian Dolan
The father of a Gaelic footballer from Hertfordshire who was murdered in Co Mayo has hit out at the decision by the local council to remove roadside memorials to his “beloved son”.
Joe Deacy, 21, from St Albans died from head injuries sustained when he was attacked while on holiday in Mayo in August 2017.
His father, Adrian Deacy, said the family were “saddened and very disappointed” at the decision of Mayo County Council to remove to memorials sited on the N5 near Swinford and on the Kinnaffe Road.
Mr Deacy called for “compassion” stating that the memorials were a “huge comfort” to those who knew Joe.
He also said they could serve to “trigger” the consciences of those responsible for Joe’s death, or those who have information but have not come forward, as to the “magnitude of what evil act they have committed”.
Mayo County Council issued a statement last Friday confirming that it had taken the action to remove all of the memorials for “safety” reasons.
The statement read: “We respect the desire of grieving families to erect such monuments to loved one but the safety of all road users is a top priority.”
Please see and share the statement from Adrian Deacy regarding the recent decision from @MayoCoCo to remove memorials erected in memory of our friend Joe 💚❤️
— St Colmcilles GAC (@StColmcillesGAC) January 18, 2019
It has also been reported in the media that the council received a complaint about the memorials from a member of the public.
Mr Deacy acknowledged that planning permission had not been sought for two memorials erected by the Deacy family as Christmas, but believed that theirs was not the only one to lack the required permission.
Joe, who played for St Colmcilles GAA club, was found outside a house in Gortnasillagh, near Swinford.
He was taken to Mayo University Hospital and then to Beaumont Hospital where he died a day later.
The full statement by Adrian Deacy, read: “The family and friends of Joe Deacy are saddened and very disappointed with Mayo County Councils decision to remove the Memorials sited in honour of my beloved son.
“Joe was never happier than when he was in Mayo, and this decision simply adds further misery on top of the heartbreaking fact that he was brutally murdered in the County that he loved so much.
“We are aware that Planning Permission was not sought prior to the Memorials being erected, and for that we apologise, but we do not believe that we are alone in this oversight.
“We also believe that the Memorials were a source of huge comfort to Joe’s many relations and friends who live in the vicinity of Bohola where the Memorials are sited.
“This has become a place where they could visit and pay their respects, as well as to try and come to terms with the fact that Joe’s murderer(s) have still not been brought to justice.
“From my own personal and selfish point of view, I firmly believe that the people who perpetrated this heinous crime, plus the people that are possibly still aiding them by their silence, may also be from the County of Mayo?
“If these persons then happened to pass the Memorial, then maybe this would in some small way trigger their consciences, and hopefully help them face up to the magnitude of what evil act they have committed.
“It has been 18 months since my son was put down, in a manner not befitting an animal let alone a human being, so the least we would like to do now, is to allow all of the people that knew and loved Joe, plus the many others from all over Mayo that have expressed their kindness and sympathy to our family, to be allowed to continue to pay their respects in this manner.
“Compassion may not feature in the legal Dictionary, but we hope and trust that it still should be a factor to consider? Sincerely, Adrian Deacy.”
The Irish World contacted Mayo County Council for comment.
Joe, whose grandfather came from Bohola, often visited the county and was an enthusiastic supporter of the Mayo football team, regularly travelling to Ireland to watch them play.
Joe had been socialising with friends in a pub in Kiltimagh on the night he was attacked.
The following morning, a passing cyclist spotted his body lying face down outside of the house he was staying in, in Swinford, and alerted the emergency services.
Gardai suspect his attacker may have followed him back to the house before assaulting him.
No one has been charged with Joe’s murder.