Protesters paint statue of ‘Nazi collaborator’ Seán Russell in Pride colours sending a powerful message against hate
Protesters in Dublin have given a statue of Nazi collaborator Seán Russell a Pride Month makeover.
The statue of Russell in Fairview Park was painted in the colours of the Pride flag on Monday night (June 24) and was spotted by walkers on Tuesday morning.
Russell was one of the leaders in the Irish Republican Army (IRA) during the Irish War of Independence and took part in the 1916 Easter Rising.
However, he later forged links with Nazi Germany. In 1939, the IRA Army Council – under Russell’s leadership – claimed to be the Irish government and declared war on the United Kingdom in conjunction with Nazi Germany.
The statue has been vandalised on numerous occasions since it was installed in the 1950s – but the latest act of protest came with a queer twist.
Seán Russell condemned as a ‘Nazi collaborator’.
SDLP Belfast councillor Séamus de Faoite branded Russell “a Nazi collaborator” on Twitter and slammed the Lord Mayor of Dublin for defending the statue’s continued presence in Fairview Park.
“Far more fitting for Fairview Park would be a memorial to Declan Flynn and the many Irish LGBT+ people who were the victims of violence,” he said, referring to the brutal hate killing of Flynn, a gay man, in 1982.
Others also insisted that Russell was a Nazi sympathiser and said his statue should be removed from Fairview Park.
I can’t believe there are still people choosing “Seán Russell may have gone to Berlin in 1940, worked with the Nazis, had a liaison officer who was later convicted of crimes against humanity, and died on a U-Boat, BUT HE WAS NOT A NAZI!” as the hill they want to die on.
— Adam (@AdyHurley) June 24, 2020
"It is claimed he plotted with Hitler’s regime during the second World War, having met with then-Nazi foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop in 1940, supposedly to discuss assistance for the IRA."
There's no damn "supposedly" about it. That's what he was doing.
— Tim O'Connor (@timoconnorbl) June 24, 2020
The incident comes just weeks after Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar referenced the Russell statue when asked about the pulling down of other monuments in the UK.
“We have a few of our own statues we may need to take down,” he said.
“There is a statue in Fairview Park in Dublin of an Irish republican man who was also a Nazi collaborator… I think any statues that come down should come down legally… let’s not engage in violence,” Varadkar said on RTÉ 2FM.
The paint has since been cleaned off.
The Pride colours were quickly cleaned off with the help of Ógra Shinn Féin members, the youth wing of political party Sinn Féin.
Speaking to the Irish Mirror, one member said the statue was painted with the Pride colours due to “misconceptions” about Russell’s legacy.
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“Now, obviously the statues that are in question in America and in England are slaveholders, slave traders, Confederate generals, this type of thing and Sean Russell was in the total opposite camp of that spirit,” he said.
“Sean Russell was an anti-imperialist fighter, he was a fighter for freedom, not against freedom as these statues in America have been, so I would just encourage people to read up on his history and Irish history in general.”
The Irish Graves Association, which owns the statue, has insisted that Russell was not a Nazi sympathiser and said fascism “should always be condemned without reservation”.