Council never voted for Che Guevara monument, says MayorMarch 27, 2012 - 7:30am
BY CIARAN TIERNEY
Mayor of Galway Hildegarde Naughton has claimed that there was never any mention of a permanent monument in memory of Latin American revolutionary Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara when Galway City Council voted to honour him last year.
As pressure continues to mount on the local authority to abandon plans for a commemorative structure, Mayor Naughton (FG) said yesterday that there had been no mention of a statue when Councillors voted unanimously in favour of honouring the Argentinean last June.
Controversy over the planned structure raged on last week when the chairwoman of the US House of Representatives Ileana Ros Lehtinen wrote to An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, to request that the monument should not be erected near the promenade in Salthill.
The plans to commemorate ‘El Che’, who was executed by US-backed forces in Bolivia in 1967, has enraged the Cuban-American community in the US following a vocal campaign by Libertas founder Declan Ganley, who lives in Co Galway.
Mayor Naughton was one of 14 Councillors who voted in favour of a motion by Cllr Billy Cameron (Labour) to honour Ernesto Guevara, a descendant of the Lynch and Blake Tribes of Galway, in June of last year.
But she said yesterday that she had no knowledge of the memorial project, which will be funded by the Argentinean and Cuban embassies, until she saw an artist’s impression of the three dimensional structure in the Galway City Tribune newspaper on March 2.
“There was no reference to a monument in the notice of motion we voted in favour of,” Mayor Naughton told the Sentinel yesterday. “The first I heard of this was when I saw an artist’s impression in the Galway City Tribune.
“The history since his life and death has shown that the type of society he was advocating was no more equitable than what he was fighting to displace. As a democrat, I cannot support the placing of a monument in memory of Che Guevara in our city.”
Cllr Cameron said he would be open to the plan going before the Council’s Corporate Policy Group, who could hear a presentation from architect Simon McGuinness.
But he rejected the calls for the Council to scrap the plan, from Ms Ros Lehtinen, who had described Guevara as a “mass murderer and human rights abuser” in her letter to An Taoiseach.
He also rejected claims by Mr Ganley that the construction of a monument would have a negative impact on tourism.
Born in Argentina, Che Guevara could trace his roots back to Galway through his maternal grandmother, Ana Isabel Lynch.
Read more in today’s Connacht Sentinel