Limerick councillors reject idea to erect Che Guevara plaque

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Che Guevara: plans for a plaque to honour the Cuban revolutionary visit here have been rejected by a majority of metropolitan district councillors
A BID to have a plaque erected to commemorate Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara’s visit to Limerick was blocked by councillors.

A BID to have a plaque erected to commemorate Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara’s visit to Limerick was blocked by councillors.

Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA) coordinator Cllr Cian Prendiville had lodged a notice of motion with the council that a plaque be erected at or near Hanratty’s Hotel to mark the 50th anniversary of Guevara’s visit to the city in March 1965.

“Che Guevara’s visit here is part of our hidden radical history of the city. Many people do not know his surname is Lynch, and the famous image of him came from [local artist] Jim Fitzpatrick, who met him in Kilkee. In Kilkee, they had a festival to mark 50 years since his visit,” Cllr Prendiville said.

The northside councillor conceded it is not feasible to hold a festival due to time constraints, but called for a plaque, and suggested it might be unveiled by Mr Fitzpatrick.

His proposal was backed by Sinn Fein councillor Seighin O’Ceallaigh, who said: “Che is an iconic figure and it is important to look at his link with Limerick just as we did with John F Kennedy. He showed liberation and justice have no borders: he travelled the world to do what he thought was right.”

But other councillors were unconvinced.

Cllr Shane Clifford, Fianna Fail, said: “We need to be careful about who we honour. There are a lot of allegations on the execution of people who did not share his views once he claimed power. There are a lot of unanswered questions.”

But AAA councillor John Loftus said: “Every character in history has a dark side. [American president] Barack Obama has sent more people to their death in recent years than Che Guevara ever did.”

His intervention drew cries from Mayor Michael Sheahan that his remarks were out of order.

Cllr Kieran O’Hanlon, Fianna Fail, added: “There are a lot of Limerick people who deserve to be honoured ahead of Che Guevara. We cannot put plaques up for everyone. You are making a big mistake if you start putting up plaques for everyone.”

Cllr Prendiville retorted: “I am not proposing we rename a street, or a bridge. It is a plaque: a small mark that he stayed in Limerick.”

But Fine Gael councillor Marian Hurley, a former executive at Shannon Development, described the idea as “ludicrous”.

The motion was defeated by councillors.