Cameron rejects criticism of Guevara monument
Councillor Billy Cameron has branded criticism of the city council’s planned monument to Argentine revolutionary Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara as “poisonous”.
Figures such as journalist Kevin Myers and businessman Declan Ganley had questioned the council’s decision to celebrate Guevara’s Galway links, with Mr Myers describing Guevara as a “vagrant sociopath, murderer, fantasist and narcissist”.
Guevara was a descendant of Patrick Lynch, from Galway, who left for Argentina in the 18th Century.
Cllr Cameron, who made the initial proposal to Galway City Council, said that opinion is always divided over historical figures and pointed out that no taxpayers’ money will be used to fund the monument.
“When you have an historic figure, probably an icon of history, you’ll have controversy. I suppose, if we traced Margaret Thatcher’s roots back to Galway, and 50 to 70 years down the line we proposed to erect something to Margaret Thatcher, we would probably get the same reaction,” said the Labour Party Councillor.
“To be honest, I found Kevin Myers’ article, which I read on the Internet, poisonous,” said Cllr Cameron.
“All I can say is that Galway people are different. I haven’t heard a bad reaction from one native Galwegian. We seem to do things differently in Galway. On the ground, it hasn’t reared its head as a controversial issue.
“I can partially see the reaction to it being offensive to a certain element of American tourists, but then again, we all go on holidays and there are certain aspects of other people’s cultures that we might take exception to, but we just have to live with that. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
Councillor Cameron said he did not think the council would review the decision to erect the monument, “unless people play politics”. And, he added, that it would be “hugely beneficial to our tourist industry”.
Galway City Council’s Arts Officer, James Harrold said there were some hurdles remaining in the progress of erecting the monument, including funding, design choice and location.
The favoured location is along the Salthill Promenade, but this may not be technically possible. A modern design by architect Simon McGuinness, submitted by the Cuban Embassy, is likely to be used, but must first go before the council’s Public Art Working Group.
“I’m just responsible for the aesthetic and the technical point of view. The council has asked me to work on it, so I’m working on it,” said Mr Harrold.
Funding for the monument is to be raised from a joint online funding initiative organised by the Cuban and Argentinian Embassies.