New Declan Flynn documentary to screen on RTÉ

Marking the 40th anniversary since the death of Declan Flynn, a brand new in-depth documentary takes an intimate look at his life and the circumstances surrounding his death.

Split screen of Declan Flynn (left) who is featured in a new documentary and Fairview Park (right) where he was murdered.
Image: @LensAreLive via Twitter

A brand new documentary marking the 40th anniversary of the murder of Declan Flynn is to be screened on RTÉ One and RTÉ Player on Monday, September 5.

The Case I Can’t Forget: The Killing of Declan Flynn takes an in-depth look at the life of the gay man and the circumstances surrounding his tragic death.

On the fatal night, Declan was brutally “queer bashed” by 5 men in Dublin’s Fairview Park and died as a result of the injuries he had sustained.

Speaking during his interview for the documentary, retired Detective Inspector Edwin Handcock expressed the lasting impact that the vicious attack had upon him. 

“Every time I pass by the Park, I remember the murder of Declan Flynn. Especially when I pass by on the train, because you can actually see the scene.  And it all comes back then. Some things you don’t forget.” 

DI Handcock also recounts much of the events surrounding the murder including how he expected the investigation to be a much longer affair. However, the five men were in custody only hours after the attack providing full confessions. Despite the men’s guilty pleas, they were later awarded suspended sentences by Justice Sean Gannon.  

The vicious attack impacted the lives of everyone who knew Flynn but also those within the LGBTQ+ community who feared the violent crime and the wider societal homophobia that was prevalent at the time. 

The documentary features activist, DJ, and historian Tonie Walsh who remembers Declan Flynn from the Hirschfeld Centre during a time when it was illegal to be homosexual in Ireland.

Walsh explains, “There was a culture of homophobic violence that simmered under the surface of Irish society throughout the 70s and 80s. There was a litany of what we would now consider anti-gay hate crimes: people being beaten up with impunity and people being murdered”. 

The documentary also paints an intimate portrait of who Flynn was as a person. Speaking publicly for the first time, Declan’s brother Paul fondly remembers him as a caring and loving individual.

“My mother was very, very good to him. She put a huge amount of effort into helping him. To be fair to him, the love she gave him, he returned that love to her.”

He also recalls the devastation that the family faced when hearing the news of Declan’s death, “I’ll never forget the sound that came from my parents. It was like something left their bodies. I think it was the kind of a sound only a parent can make when they lose a child.”

While acknowledging the effects of Declan’s murder on the LGBTQ+ community, he says, “It is strange to think that he has become this figure for the gay community now. It is understandable, but at the end of the day, he is not just a headline from a newspaper or he is not just somebody that maybe represents that particular point in history.

“I would like people to remember that he was our brother and he was a warm, giving human being. We need to keep ownership of that because we are still mourning the fact that he is no longer with us.”

The Case I Can’t Forget: The Killing of Declan Flynn will air on Monday, September 5 at 9.35 pm on RTÉ One and RTÉ Player

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