Top US politician adds voice of opposition to ‘Che’ statueAugust 3, 2012 - 7:15am
BY CIARAN TIERNEY
A member of Galway City Council has been accused of “playing silly season politics” by persuading a senior Irish-American Congressman in the US to oppose a plan to erect a statue of Latin American revolutionary Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara in the city.
Cllr Billy Cameron (Labour), who first proposed the plan to honour Guevara’s family links with Galway, said yesterday that most US politicians would have no knowledge of the plan unless they were alerted to it by politicians with their own agendas in the city.
He made his comments after Cllr Padraig Conneely (FG) wrote to Congressman Peter T. King, who has family links with Connemara, to alert him to a controversy which has raged on both sides of the Atlantic for the past few months.
New York Congressman King, the Chairman of the US Committee on Homeland Security, sent a strongly worded reply to Cllr Conneely this week, expressing concerns over the statue’s impact on Irish-US relations.
“The ties between Ireland and the United States are strong and lasting,” said Congressman King. “But the building of a statue to Guevara could well impact on American investment in Ireland, as well as and continued support of the International Fund for Ireland.
“As your friend and a friend of Galway, I strongly urge you to take whatever action you can to prevent this project from going forward.”
He echoed the comments of the Chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Cuban-American Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who has described the Cuban revolutionary hero as a “mass murder” and “human rights abuser” in a letter to An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny.
But Cllr Cameron said yesterday that threats from American politicians, who claim US investment in Ireland could be impacted if the statue goes ahead, were similar to the threats faced by countries who oppose the harsh US sanctions against Cuba.
“It seems when it comes to issues such as this, you have to doff your cap to the Americans,” said Cllr Cameron. “I won’t be doffing my cap to the Americans. Let’s have a bit of a rational discussion about this. Cllr Conneely is stirring things up for his own political agenda.”
For more on this story, see the Galway City Tribune.