Published On: Mon, Dec 9th, 2013 at 10:39am

UN Human Rights Day honour for Václav Havel

Tomorrow 20 December 2013 at 12 noon, Lord Mayor Oisín Quinn will dedicate a living memorial bench at St. Patrick’s Park to the playwright, dissident and Czech president Václav Havel. The Lord Mayor will be joined at the ceremony by His Excellency Mr. Tomas Kafka, Ambassador of the Czech Republic, Professor Borek Sipek, friend of Havel and renowned architect and designer of the memorial, and Karel Schwarzenberg, politician and close adviser to Havel.

The memorial called “Václav Havel’s Place” was designed by Borek Sipek and comprises two seats intertwined around a lime tree, the national tree of the Czech Republic. The idea behind the memorial bench is to create a meeting space for democratic discussion and to encourage freedom of speech. The first “Václav Havel’s Place” was unveiled in Washington in October 2013 and Dublin is the second city to honour Havel in this way. Dublin’s sister city Barcelona proposes a similar memorial for 2014.

The Lord Mayor Oisín Quinn said: “I am delighted and honoured to dedicate this living memorial bench to the great and inspirational Václav Havel. St. Patrick’s Park is a fitting and contemplative setting for “Václav Havel’s Place” as it complements the “Literary Parade” which honours many world renowned Dublin writers such as Jonathan Swift and Samuel Beckett. Indeed Beckett dedicated a work called “Catastrophe” to Havel. I hope this memorial will stimulate not only Dublin citizens but the many visitors to this park, to chat, dream and develop ideas. I would like to thank Dublin City Council, H.E. Mr. Tomas Kafka, and the Czech Embassy, Bill Shipsey and the friends of Havel for their generous gift to this city.”.

H.E. Mr. Tomas Kafka, Ambassador of the Czech Republic said:” For any Czech citizen, let alone a representative of our country; it is a great honour to be associated with the legacy and example of our late President Václav Havel. I am very grateful to Bill Shipsey of Art for Amnesty, Dublin´s Lord Mayor Oisin Quinn as well as several Irish friends of Vaclav Havel, including the support of Skoda Ireland, that, thanks to their generosity, we can unveil “Václav Havel´s Place”, for Czechs better known as “Václav Havel´s bench”, on Human Rights Day in Dublin. This bench symbolizes Václav Havel´s fondness for dialogue and communication as one of the crucial foundations for a kinder and more tolerant society. I wish to dedicate to this new monument in Dublin a slogan as unpretentious as President Havel himself: “Let´s hope the world may change/ on Václav Havel´s bench”

Bill Shipsey, Art For Amnesty said: “It is a proud day for Amnesty International and the cause of universal human rights for which Vaclav Havel dedicated his life, that Dublin is dedicating the first ‘Havel’s Place’ in Europe and the first in a public space anywhere in the world in his honour. Vaclav Havel came to Dublin 10 years ago to receive the inaugural Amnesty International ‘Ambassador of Conscience’ Award from the hand of Seamus Heaney whose poem inspired the Award. We remember both Seamus and Vaclav on this proud day.”

“Václav Havel’s Place” memorial was funded by Dublin City Council, H.E. Mr. Tomas Kafka, Ambassador of the Czech Republic and the Czech Embassy, Skoda Ireland, Bill Shipsey and the Friends of Václev Havel. The lime tree was provided by SAP Nurseries.

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