Dublin City Council has said it is investigating the removal of statues from outside The Shelbourne hotel in the capital.
The four statues, two of which are slave girls holding torches and two are Nubian princesses, stood in front of the famous city centre hotel for 153 years.
The hotel is owned by US real estate company Kennedy Wilson and managed by the Marriott Group.
In a statement, the council said it was "unaware" of the necessary planning permission being granted for their removal.
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"The matter is under investigation by the Planning Enforcement Section and therefore no further comment can be made in the matter at this time," it added.
Earlier, the Irish Georgian Society said that their removal would require planning permission and it did not believe this was obtained.
The society said it had contacted the city council's planning department asking them "to address the matter".
"Further to reports and in the interests of clarity, the IGS was not consulted about the removal of statues from The Shelbourne Hotel," the society stated on Twitter.
Further to reports and in the interests of clarity, the IGS was not consulted about the removal of statues from The Shelbourne Hotel. Such works require planning permission which we believe was not sought. The IGS has contacted DCC Planning urging them to address the matter. pic.twitter.com/2cftDLbffr— Irish Georgian Society (@IrishGeorgian) July 28, 2020
Former environmental editor of The Irish Times Frank McDonald has also made a complaint to planners.
He described the decision to remove the statues as the "importation of American cancel culture". Mr McDonald said the statues had nothing to do with modern slavery.
There has not been any official statement from the hotel.
The hotel won a conservation award from the Irish Georgian Society in 2017 for the restoration of its facade.
Dublin's Shelbourne Hotel could face enforcement proceedings after four statues were apparently removed without planning permission. The city council is investigating the removal of the 153 year old statues carried out because of their depiction of slaves in ancient Africa. pic.twitter.com/EAzhudMSap— RTÉ News (@rtenews) July 29, 2020
A lecturer of black studies at UCD told RTÉ's Drivetime that she applauds the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin for removing the statues from outside its premises.
Dr Ebun Joseph said members of the black community could not afford to go to the hotel so perhaps did not know the statues even existed.
Ms Joseph said it was about the narrative of the statues. She said slavery was inhumane and wrong, no matter what era of history that the statues came from.