A secondary school has caused controversy by unveiling a mural which includes fascist Blueshirt leader and Fine Gael founder Eoin O’Duffy. Coláiste Oiriall in Co. Monaghan unveiled the mural in recent days. It includes a number of well-known figures connected to Monaghan such as politicians Heather Humphreys and Catherine Martin as well as boxer Stephen McKenna. But the mural also includes an image of O’Duffy.
As leader of the Blueshirts he and 700 supporters traveled to Spain in the 1930s to fight on the side of Spanish dictator General Franco.
The Beacon understands Coláiste Oiriall shared an image of the new mural on its Facebook page last week. Written underneath the mural is a phrase in Irish which translates as “Our people sow in spring and reap the harvest for they rise early with fervour”. But the school quickly removed the post from Facebook after it received criticism from people pointing to O’Duffy’s inclusion in the mural.
It’s also understood that a number of former students are unhappy about the mural. Members of the Teacher’s Union of Ireland (TUI) are also aware of the mural and it’s believed they’re in the process of informing the union leadership about the situation.
A “shameful celebration of a fascist icon”
In response the Friends of the International Brigades in Ireland (FIBI) has issued a statement calling for O’Duffy’s removal from the mural.
On its Facebook page it wrote that it “condemns unreservedly the inclusion” of O’Duffy in the mural, describing it as a “shameful celebration of a fascist icon”. Going on, it argued that:
The inclusion, in what is an otherwise impressive piece of art, does not sit well with its own description as ‘a progressive and vibrant school working to the highest standards in teaching and learning’. In fact, it only taints the reputation of this multi-denominational school and demeans other individuals depicted on the mural.
FIBI, which was was set up in 1986 to celebrate and commemorate Irish volunteers who travelled to Spain to fight against General Franco in the Spanish Civil War pointed to O’Duffy’s admiration of both General Franco and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. For his support of the two figures FIBI argued “he deserves to be remembered with disdain”. And given this, it called on the school “to remove this figure from the mural immediately”.
The Beacon contacted Coláiste Oiriall in relation to the mural and FIBI’s statement. A response has yet to be received.
Featured image via YouTube – Screenshot