Hundreds gather in Fairview Park to remember Declan Flynn

“His gentle nature was in stark contrast to the brutality that abruptly ended his life.”

Split screen of Declan Flynn and the memorial wreath in Fairview Park.

On Saturday, September 10, hundreds gathered in Dublin’s Fairview Park to remember Declan Flynn on the 40th anniversary of his tragic death. The memorial event organised by Dublin Pride also paid tribute to other victims of queerphobic violence, with activists stressing the importance of introducing hate crime legilsation as soon as possible.

31 year-old Flynn was murdered in on September 9, 1982 by a gang of homophobic youths who wanted to rid the area of “steamers” and “queers”. Even though the five teenagers admitted their guilt in court, they all received suspended sentences from Justice Seán Gannon and walked free, a moment which is seen as a major catalyst for igniting the Irish LGBTQ+ rights movement.

Although a pivotal point in history for the nation’s queer community, Declan’s brother Paul spoke on behalf of his family at the memorial and reminded all that first and foremost he was a loving brother and son. 

Remembering Declan, Paul said: “He was a quiet man. He loved pop music, and family celebrations. He was particularly loving to his parents and to his younger brother Greg who had down syndrome. He loved giving presents and he was in his element at Christmas when he would rarely arrive home without colourful decorations and gifts for his family.

“His gentle nature was in stark contrast to the brutality that abruptly ended his life.”

Many representatives from queer organisations also addressed the crowd on Saturday, with Dublin Pride’s Philippa Ryder, Dublin Lesbian Line’s Val, Outhouse’s Oisín O’Reilly, ShoutOut’s Ruadhán Ó Críodáin, LGBT Ireland’s Collette O’Regan, and Switchboard and Intersex Ireland’s Olive Wilson all taking the mic.

As well as paying homage to Declan Flynn and other victims of queerphobic violence including Michael Snee and Aidan Moffitt, the speakers in Fairview Park also called for the introduction of hate crime legislation, the inclusion of intersex people within this legislation, LGBTQ+ education in schools and improved support and services for refugees.

Brian Sheehan spoke to the crowd about the Disregard Scheme, which aims to erase historical criminal convictions against queer people. The activist noted the importance of submitting feedback to the public consultation which opens soon, saying that as many voices as possible should be heard in order to make the process as effective and efficient as possible.

Izzy Kamikaze remembered the events of Declan’s death, the trial and the aftermath. Speaking about the Fairview March protest, she said, “People were afraid to do that walk and I was afraid to do that walk, and we did it anyway and I do think that it was a tremendous moment.”

Described by some as Ireland’s Stonewall, Izzy added: “It was a profoundly radical thing to do. It was difficult, it did feel dangerous.”

Bill Foley was one of the original organisers of that march, and knew Declan through the NGF Social Committee.

“We felt that we needed to capture the anger, the frustration that was going on in the community and bring it together to positive affirmative action,” he explained.

“Being here today is a very complex day for everybody,” Foley said. “We need to both acknowledge the hurt and celebrate Declan’s life because in his voluntary capacity he did make a contribution to the advancement of LGBT rights himself.”

He continued by stressing the importance of continuing to fight for queer rights, powerfully adding: “We can’t be complacent anymore.”

Following the speeches, Dublin LGBTQ+ choir Gloria sang ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ and ‘An Irish Blessing’ in tribute to those gone too soon. A wreath was laid for Flynn in Fairview Park, alongside a Pride flag, and many concluded the afternoon’s event by retracing the steps of the first march from the location of the tragedy into the City centre.

© 2022 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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