A smashing new memorial statue of Sean Russell - Irish nationalist and Nazi collaborator - went up in Fairview Park just over a week ago. Monuments, by their nature, can usually rely on some kind of public support… at least in the times and places they are erected.
But so unpopular is the memorial to the IRA man who colluded with fellow nationalist fanatic Hitler (during a war in which Ireland was supposedly neutral), that the last one was repeatedly vandalised by anti fascists, most effectively in December 2004 when its head and saluting arm were detached from it.
Supporters of Russell, including Cumann Uaigheann Na Laochra Gael (The National Graves Association) claim we should not read too much into Russell’s little Nazi adventure - which culminated in him dying of natural causes on a U-Boat on the jaunt home - but it’s hard not to, isn’t it? Especially as Russell was looking for a Nazi-backed “free” Ireland, at a time when Hitler’s intentions towards the world’s Jews, including Irish ones, were well known.
Indeed, The Simon Wiesenthal Centre suggested after the last attack that the remains of the monument be left as a monument to why there should be no monument. “It’s a blot on the history of Ireland, but blots have to see the public light”, a spokesman said. And I can see the logic of that.
But Cumann Uaigh.... The National Graves Association, which looks after the (burial) plots of our numerous patriot dead, will have none of it. They are determined we will have a monument to Russell whether we like it or lump (hammer) it.
So determined, in fact, that the lastest version is made of bronze, on the basis that the durable material should resist attempts to hack bits off it. Not only that, the head actually contains a tracking device, in order to facilitate its recovery should anyone make off with it again. I kid you not! I mean, you could hardly make this up anyway.
Sadly, for supporters of the dubious “republican", all this high-techery (as opposed to high treachery) does not protect Russell’s effigy completely. Last Wednesday it was daubed with various uncomplimentary slogans such as “Nazi Scum” and “Hitler’s Friend”.
But you know, I don’t think Russell would have taken offence at any of that.
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