People Before Profit Councillor John Lyons has called for a public monument or memorial to commemorate the struggle of the Irish LGBTQ+ community.
“I think it’s important we acknowledge where we come from,” said Lyons in an interview with the Dublin Inquirer.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Ireland. It also marks 35 years since Declan Flynn, a young gay man, was brutally beaten to death in Fairview Park by a group of men who faced nothing but suspended sentences for the murder. These are landmark moments in the fabric of the Irish LGBTQ+ community’s history of struggle.
The councillor has suggested that a number of plaques should be placed at historic Irish LGBTQ+ sites across Dublin, including Liberty Hall, where the first Pride march was held in 1983, and Fairview Park, where Declan Flynn was murdered.
Lyons suggested a couple of plaques, maybe. One at Liberty Hall, where people took to the streets in 1983, and one in Fairview Park, where Flynn was murdered.
Lyons is not alone in his call for a monument. Councillor Rebecca Moynihan feels that commercial sponsorship should be kept out of the matter, something she felt was one of the “more disappointing aspects” of this year’s Pride. “I think it’s very important that this is done by the citizens of Dublin, for the citizens of Dublin,” she said.
Independent Councillor Mannix Flynn spoke about the matter at a meeting of the arts committee in City Hall last week. He felt that the matter needs to be handled in a sensitive way and that the family of Declan Flynn should be consulted on the project. Flynn also spoke about ensuring that the monument acknowledges “the many, many thousands who were in the institutions with me, in the jails with me, in the police stations with me as a child” and those “who were set on because of the way they looked … those who lost their lives in this particular country”.
Tonie Walsh, GCN co-founder and one of the organisers of the first Pride march in 1983, has also spoken out on the matter. Walsh has called for an Irish AIDS memorial, saying “I think that’s actually more urgent,”, seeing it as an opportunity to educate a new generation about the Irish AIDS crisis.
Walsh has suggested that an ideal monument would be a plaque at the Hirschfeld Centre, an LGBT community centre, which marks its 40th anniversary next year.
The monument is now a matter of the Dublin City Arts Office, where City Arts Officer Ray Yeates has already said that the office is under “considerable pressure” for commemoration requests. The council must also take into account the issue of cost, with most pieces of public artwork usually costing around €100,000 per piece.
However long the process may take, the council plan to navigate the design of a fitting memorial by consulting with the family of Declan Flynn and the wider Irish LGBTQ+ community.
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