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Dublin statue of IRA leader Sean Russell is cleaned after being painted with rainbow colours

Dublin City Council says it has “a duty of care for all our public sculptures and statues”.

Tweet by @P Mac - Dublin Source: P Mac - Dublin/Twitter

THE SEAN RUSSELL statue in Dublin’s Fairview Park has been cleaned after it was painted with the colours of the rainbow flag.

The statue had been daubed with the colours of the eight-stripe LGBT flag, which add the colours black and brown to the rainbow flag to support the battle against racial discrimination. 

The paint has already been cleaned off the statue by masonry conservation firm P Mac, which has previously cleaned the Luke Kelly statue in Dublin when it has been vandalised

In a statement, Dublin City Council said: “Dublin City Council has a duty of care for all our public sculptures and statues.  The council is taking immediate action to remove the paint from the statue and plinth”. 

The statue of former IRA leader Sean Russell has provoked repeated controversy since it was first placed in the park in 1951.  

The statue has variously been decapitated, vandalised and even replaced. 

Image from iOS The statue after being cleaned this afternoon. Source: TheJournal.ie

Russell was an Irish republican who fought in the 1916 Rising and was a leader during the War of Independence. He opposed the treaty and became chief of staff of the IRA in the early years of the Irish Free State.

His legacy is also very controversial, in large part because of his death.

Russell died in 1940 on a German u-boat after travelling to Nazi Germany in an effort to secure support for his cause. 

While there, he kept company with prominent Nazis and there is evidence to suggest he met with Edmund Veesenmayer of the SS in Berlin in 1940.

Veesenmayer went on to be convicted as a war criminal for his role in the Holocaust in eastern Europe from 1944 onwards.

The u-boat on which Russell died is believed to have been en route back to Ireland and those opposed to the Russell statue say it equates to Nazi collaboration. They also say his efforts could have aided a potential Nazi occupation of Ireland.

Supporters of Russell and the statue claim he had no interest in Nazi ideology. A commemoration for him was held in the park yesterday featuring a number of councillors.  

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Following the toppling of the statue of slave trader Edward Colston’s in Bristol earlier this month, and various other controversial statues around the world, a wider conversation has been had about the appropriateness of certain public monuments

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is among those who identified the statue of Russell as one which “we might need to have a think about”

In Nazi Germany and during the Holocaust, homosexuals were among the groups that faced persecution and mass murder. 

Fairview Park is also considered a symbolic place for LGBT people in Ireland as the site where gay man Declan Flynn was attacked and killed in 1982. 

The five men who attacked Flynn were given suspended sentences for manslaughter.

Dublin’s Pride Festival which is being held online is currently ongoing.

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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