A statue of IRA leader Seán Russell, based in Fairview Park on Dublin’s Northside, was daubed in rainbow colours overnight after a commemoration was held in his honour just yesterday.
The statue had made headlines in the last few days after Fine Gael councillor Ray McAdam wrote to the council requesting that it explore the possibility of its removal. Seán Russell has long been a controversial figure as people argue over his links to the Nazi party.
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also raised the possibility of the statue being removed in the context of debates around the tearing-down of statues commemorating slave traders in the US and the UK during recent Black Lives Matter protests.
News: Statue of IRA leader Seán Russell in Fairview has been defaced with LGBT colours. Local historians and republicans are said to be disgusted that this kind of vandalisim seems to be acceptable by the minority. pic.twitter.com/3DEkLdhqOv
— Niall Boylan (@Niall_Boylan) June 23, 2020
This is the latest of many acts of vandalism on the statue across the decades since it was first erected in 1951. The brilliant, Come Here To Me! “a group blog that focuses on the life and culture of Dublin city”, has an exhaustive history of the divisive tribute.
As Come Here To Me! describe; “Russell was a veteran Republican who partook in the Easter Rising and the War of Independence, before going on to senior positions in the IRA in the 1920’s and ’30s. He died in 1940 upon a German U-Boat, on route to Ireland…Russell’s statue has been targeted by both the Right and the Left, and remains considerably controversial to this day.”
In a biography of the man, Seán Russell was quoted as stating, “I am not a Nazi. I’m not even pro-German. I am an Irishman fighting for the independence of Ireland. The British have been our enemies for hundreds of years. They are the enemy of Germany today. If it suits Germany to give us help to achieve independence, I am willing to accept it, but no more, and there must be no strings attached.”
Come Here To Me! also link to an article by Brian Hanley which counters, “Seán Russell may have been uninterested in political debate but he was hardly unaware of these matters. That he was happy to take up residence in Berlin as a guest of the Nazis, meet their high command and propose plans for military action in support of a German invasion was collaboration, whatever his private motivation.”
The significance of Fairview Park to the LGBT+ community in Ireland can not be understated, having been the site of the brutal murder of Declan Flynn, an incident widely credited with the mobilisation of the Irish LGBT+ community into action and activism.
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