DOUBT has been raised over whether a controversial statue to boxer Jack Doyle will be erected in his hometown of Cobh.
The Cobh Municipal District was in broad support of plans for a disability-friendly statue and planned to provide €8,000 of the cost but final planning stages were held up by a need for an environmental impact assessment on the installation which is slated for Pearse Square in the south-east corner of the town.
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.
Domestic violence service Women’s Aid said in August that the installation of a statue to Doyle could suggest that abusive behaviour is acceptable and pointed out that one in five women in Ireland suffer domestic abuse.
County Hall has now put the statue on hold over concerns from officials over its location in the town. The disability-friendly statue was set to display Doyle seated on a stool, directly across from Cobh’s famous promenade.
County Hall chief executive Tim Lucey said the local authority’s architect and conservation officer have both recommended it should not go ahead at that location based on “clutter.”
Councillor Diarmaid Ó Cadhla, who initially proposed the statue, said the proposal and location of the statue had been discussed at length at municipal district level and other monuments close by it - including one commemorating the 1916 Rising and local sports star Sonia O’Sullivan - were not subject to similar reports by County Hall officials.
“Jack Doyle is being treated differently based on an agenda. What science is this ‘clutter’ being based on?” he said.
The statue was to allow wheelchair access and have multimedia presentations, which use Quick Response (QR) codes linked to the internet, to illustrate different aspects of Doyle’s life, in boxing, the movies, and as a world-class tenor.
The matter will now be returned to the Cobh Municipal District for discussion.