Zurich officials have not yet received a formal request for the exhumation of Joyce's body, “but if it comes to us, we will examine it carefully”, Astrid Herrmann, spokesperson for Zurich's Dicastery told Keystone-ATS news service.
Paddy McCartan, a Dublin city councilor who put in a motion this week to bring Joyce's remains back to the country, said that the novelist wanted to be buried in Ireland.
Joyce's wife, Nora Barnacle, also requested that his remains be repatriated, but at the time the Irish government refused. According to The Guardian, “the writer had a complex relationship with the country”, which banned his book, Ulysses, over its “obscene” and “anti-Irish” content.
However, Dr. Fritz Senn, the director of the James Joyce Foundation in Zurich, said “there seems to be no evidence that Joyce wanted to return to Ireland or even be buried there”.
Speaking to TheJournal.ie, he said there would be “resistance” in Switzerland to such a request, as the Irish government failed to send a delegation to Joyce's funeral in 1941, and the grave has become a major tourist attraction.
But he also added that if Zurich authorities agree to send Joyce's remains back to Ireland, he would not oppose it. “I am not nationalistic enough to mount the barricades for a body,” he said.