College urged to return human remains to Kerry

Deputy Pa Daly: Human remains must be returned to the county for reburial

Human remains of people, removed from Kerry in 1890 as part of an illicit trade in anthropological specimens, and now stored in Trinity College Dublin, must be returned to the county, a TD has insisted.

Deputy Pa Daly has lent his support to a campaign and petition calling for the return of skulls taken from An Ghleann/St Finan’s Bay, as well as Inishbofin and Oileán Árann in Galway, which are currently in storage in TCD.

“The academics considered locals in these areas to be unassimilated natives and were interested in studying them as specimens. They stole human remains under cover of darkness, acted with impunity and violated the dignity of the dead,” Deputy Daly claimed.

He said a new campaign now argues that the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People applies, given these actions but, at the same time, TCD is arguing that the remains form part of an archaeological collection.

“This is a contradiction in terms and I am calling on the National Museum and the Government to intervene in support of a community that has demanded the immediate return for burial of the remains of their ancestors,” the Kerry TD insisted.

Trinity College officials have met with community representatives and organised a public meeting on Inishbofin as part of a public engagement process.

“The process of engaging with what is needed for repatriation must be accelerated,” Deputy Daly stated.

An online petition, signed by over 500 people, insists that the remains must be returned to their community of origin.

The repatriation campaign, led by people from Inishbofin, is demanding that 13 skulls from their island be returned for reburial.

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