A statue of Cork boxer Jack Doyle is to be erected in Cobh after councillors voted to approve the proposal at their meeting yesterday.
Long term plans to place a statue of the boxer, actor and tenor at John F. Kennedy Park in the harbour town have been delayed over allegations of domestic violence in Doyle's later years.
Known as the ‘The Gorgeous Gael’, Doyle was famous for a career in public life which encompassed boxing, singing, and acting but controversies surrounded some of his relationships with women and his lifestyle. He died in 1978.
A vote, called by Green Party Councillor Alan O’Connor to prevent the statue of Doyle being installed received 10 votes with 18 against and 16 abstentions.
Cllr O’Connor said that due to the very serious allegations of domestic violence against Jack Doyle, the idea of a commemoration statue for selfies did not sit well with him.
Independent Councillor Marcia D’Alton agreed with the Green Party Councillor saying that if the council was committed to supporting women, they needed to outline exactly why they are supporting this installation financially and otherwise.
Cobh Councillor Cathal Rasmussen said it was a difficult topic to discuss, but said it had been discussed long and hard at the municipal district in Cobh and proposed that the planning be approved.
Fine Gael Councillor Gerard Murphy said it would be setting a bad precedent if the council pulled the statue based on allegations that had not been proven.
Councillor Anthony Barry said it was a contentious issue. “Jack Doyle is one of Cobh’s most famous sons” and he agreed with Councillor Murphy that based on allegations it was difficult to pull the plug on the project.
“We wouldn’t be putting up statues or we would be taking be down statues all over the county if we were to listen to allegations - where do you stop?”
Cllr Gearoid Murphy said he would be abstaining from the vote but said the abuse as alleged “most likely happened.”
Green Party Councillor Liam Quaide said that proving domestic abuse against a person of status in the ’40s was practically an impossible task and it was still difficult even now.
Mr Quaide also said based on the allegations, there was more than one complainant and in one instance Mr Doyle caused his partner to miscarry.
County Mayor Christopher O’Sullivan said he thought a lot of members did not know the full extent of allegations.