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'It doesn't educate anyone': Calls to remove Galway's memorial to 'genocidal' Christopher Columbus

The monument is located near the Spanish Arch.

Spanish Arch in Galway
Spanish Arch in Galway
Image: Christine Linsdell/Wikimedia Commons

PEOPLE BEFORE PROFIT have called for the removal of a memorial to explorer Christopher Columbus in solidarity with the global Black Lives Matter movement.

The monument, which is located near the Spanish Arch, was presented to the city presented by Columbus’ home city of Genoa in 1992 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of his voyage to the New World.

It is also reported that Columbus previously visited Galway in 1477.

However, People Before Profit are calling for the removal of the monument because of what they say are Columbus’ links to the genocide of Native Americans, the start of the transatlantic slave trade and the colonisation of the Americas.

“The memorial in Galway doesn’t give any context to that or make any mention of that,” a party spokesman told TheJournal.ie.

“It very briefly mentions that he visited Galway in 1477, but there’s no historical proof that he did.

“It’s unnecessary to have a memorial for someone who allegedly but was not even proven to have visited Galway, especially when it gives no context for who he was.”

The party’s calls follow the removal of a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol by protesters there at the weekend.

The bronze memorial, situated in the city since 1895, was torn down and later dumped into Bristol harbour. It had been the subject of an 11,000-strong petition to have it removed.

However, the move was criticised by a spokesman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who said it was “completely wrong” for the statue to be removed in that way.

Critics also suggested that removing the statue would not educate people about Coulston’s activity as a slave trader.

Asked about the potential for similar criticism if the Columbus memorial was removed in Galway, People Before Profit’s spokesman suggested that there were other ways to educate people about slavery.

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He said the party proposed replacing the memorial with another one that could give people some knowledge of Galway’s links to the Atlantic slave trade.

“The memorial as it stands doesn’t educate anyone,” he said.

“Galway was involved in the colonialisation of the Americans, because its merchants were involved in supplying provisions to slave traders in Africa and the Caribbean.

“We feel it would be appropriate to replace the Columbus memorial with something that would acknowledge that.”

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