Galway mayor Hildergarde Naughton has stated that there is no mention of a monument to Che Guevara in the motion passed by Galway City Council.
Reports of the statue to Che, who has Galway roots, have caused international headlines with leading Cuban American Congresswoman Oleana Ros-Lehtinen, head of the House Foreign affairs Committee, demanding the statue not be built in a letter to Irish leader Enda Kenny.
Mayor Naugton is reportedly conducting a rearguard response to the growing controversy and reaching out to council officials with the intention of bringing the matter back before Galway City Council.
'The fact is that there was no reference to a monument in the wording of the motion that was passed unanimously,' explained Mayor Naughton.
'I have spoken to officials in the city council expressing my concern about the matter. It is imperative that the matter comes back before elected representatives and I think that is the forum for it to be dealt with,' she added.
The minutes of Galway City Council’s meeting of Monday, 16 May 2011, include the following proposal: 'That Galway City Council commit itself to honoring one of its own, Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, descendant of two of our Tribes, the Lynch family of Lydican House, and the Blakes. The project to be furthered by liaising with the Argentinean and Cuban Embassies.'
Billy Cameron, an Irish Labor Party councillor in Galway, has scoffed at the claims made by fellow city councillors that they didn't know they had voted to approve a monument in honor of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara.
To underline his point Councillor Cameron dryly asked if his fellow Galway City Councillors thought they had been voting for 'an egg and spoon race?' when they unanimously approved the measure.
Councilor Cameron also had some advice for conservative Cuban-Americans who have taken an interest in the case in recent weeks: they should 'butt out' of Irish affairs, he told GalwayIndependent.com.
Councillor Cameron's remarks came a week after Galway City Mayor Hildegarde Naughton and Fianna Fail councillor Ollie Crowe told the press they had not realized erecting of a monument was part of the plan to honor the famous Argentine revolutionary, who helped bring Fidel Castro to power in Cuba in the 1950's.
'What did they think we were going to have - an egg and spoon race for Che Guevara? There's a lot of politics involved,' Councillor Cameron told the press.
Asked if he would support a less controversial way of honoring Guevara’s Galway links, Councilor Crowe said he would wait to see what proposals came before the council before making any decision, but that he 'certainly wouldn’t support a monument.'
Meanwhile, Councilor Cameron indicated that Cuban-Americans such as Yale Professor Carlos Eire (who recently criticized the monument plan) should not become involved in Irish affairs.
'I won’t be taking lectures from Cuban-Americans, who have their own agenda. I’m looking for a balanced debate. You won’t get balance from Cuban-Americans, or the Cuban-American lobby,' said Councillor Cameron.
'We live in an independent country. We fought long and hard for our independence, we’re not under the jurisdiction of the United States, and they should just butt out of Irish affairs, the Cuban-Americans,' he added.