Marbles campaigner remembered for 'commitment to the cause'

image captionEddie O'Hara campaigned tirelessly for the Marbles to be returned to Athens

The leader of the British campaign to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece, Eddie O'Hara, will be remembered for his "commitment to the cause", campaigners said.

The former Merseyside MP and university lecturer, who studied Classics at Oxford University, has died aged 78.

He became chairman of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles (BCRPM) in 2010.

A BCPRM spokesperson said he would be "missed by many".

In an interview for the BBC News website on taking up the appointment as chair of BCRPM, Mr O'Hara strongly advocated the unification of the Parthenon sculptures held in London and Greece, in the gallery devoted to them in Athens' new Acropolis Museum.

'Passion and erudition'

"There is only one place on earth where you can have a simultaneous visual and aesthetic experience of the Parthenon and the sculptures, and that's in that gallery," he said.

Last year he penned a strong response to the British Museum's claim that the sculptures are a "significant part" of the Museum's "story of cultural achievement throughout the world".

"The price of this is the compromise of the integrity of a pre-eminent work of art." Mr O'Hara stressed.

Announcing his death, the BCRPM commented: "We will remember him for many aspects of his commitment to the cause but perhaps more importantly for his love and understanding of people.

"His passion for the Parthenon Marbles never waned and his dedication to the campaign was steadfast."

The Parthenon Marbles

  • Friezes and pediment figures which decorated the Parthenon temple in Athens, built 447-432 BC
  • Many were removed by agents of the British diplomat Lord Elgin in the early 19th Century, and eventually sold to the British Museum
  • Most of the surviving sculptures are roughly equally divided between London and Athens
  • The British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles (BCRPM), formed in 1983, supports Greek demands for the London sculptures' return.
  • The new Acropolis Museum opened in Athens in 2009. It is designed to display all the surviving sculptures, in their original layout

Dr Tom Flynn from the BCRPM said: "I'm deeply saddened to receive the news of Eddie's death. A huge loss to his family and friends and to the UK Marbles campaign, which he has steered with such passion and erudition.

"A fellow Liverpudlian, he never missed an opportunity to rib me over Everton's erratic performance. I shall miss his gentle warmth and good humour."

The son of a carter, Mr O'Hara attended the Liverpool Collegiate School and studied at Magdalen College, Oxford, gaining an MA in Classics, and the University of London.

Earlier in his career he taught Latin and brought his classes to life by translating Beatles lyrics.

Mr O'Hara represented Knowsley South for 20 years. He leaves a wife and three children from his first marriage.

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