In July 1985 claims were made about a moving statue of the Virgin Mary in Ballinspittle, county Cork. Since then thousands of people flocked to the town in the hope that they would experience the statue moving for themselves.
In October 1985, in front of a group of 20-30 worshippers, the statue was attacked, resulting in the face being completely broken away, the hands and other parts of the head also damaged.
Witness to the incident Mark Farrell gives an account of what happened on the night in question. The attack was carried out by three men. One of them carried a nail bar and the second man had a lump-hammer and a small hatchet. The third man took photographs of the destruction. Nobody present attempted to stop the men as
They looked like fellas that would sort of cut the head off you with the equipment they had themselves.
The whole incident was over in five minutes and Gardaí arrived to the scene three minutes after the men had departed.
An RTÉ News report by Tom MacSweeney broadcast on 31 October 1985.