Postcard from... Madrid


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The Independent Online


An investigation is to be launched in Spain to find out how five bullet holes dating from a failed coup d’état in 1981 were accidentally wiped out during building repairs on Madrid’s Congreso building, which houses the country’s parliament.

The bullet holes came from sub-machine gun fire originating from members of the Civil Guard, who broke into Spain’s Parliament and fired salvos into the ceiling. Like those that remain conserved outside Dublin’s post office from the 1916 Easter Uprising, the bullet holes are considered an important reminder of the country’s past. But when members of the press tribune returned to their usual spots after the summer break on Wednesday, they noticed that some of the holes above them had disappeared and had been replaced by a ventilation grill.

The Speaker of the Spanish parliament, Jesus Posada, insisted on Thursday that an investigation would be undertaken, pointing out that when the attempted coup took place in February 1981, he was state governor in the region of Huelva and “if anyone is interested that no trace of that day should be wiped out, it’s me”.

There can be little doubt that the repairs needed doing. Building work that began before the summer has yet to be completed, and a sudden thunderstorm on Wednesday caused rain to collect in tarpaulins, which then burst, dropping water on to some of the parliamentarians below. The session, which was the first following the summer break, was delayed  by two hours.