Politics

Thursday 10 July 2014

Portrait of sex assault mayor to be taken down

Ralph Riegel

Published 10/12/2013|23:33

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John Murray (83) of Gregg Road in Cork pictured at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Cork Courts Limited
Former Cork mayor John Murray (83) leaving Cork Circuit Criminal Court last month. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Cork Courts Limited

A COUNCIL will remove a City Hall portrait of a former lord mayor after he was jailed for sexually assaulting a young teen.

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The victim personally asked for the picture of former lord mayor of Cork John Murray to be taken down.

The 83-year-old is now serving a 12-month sentence for five sexual assaults against the teen between 1996 and 1998.

Murray, a veteran Labour Party official, served as lord mayor of Cork from 1993/94 and was a representative for Cork at the 1994 World Cup finals in the US.

The Circuit Criminal Court jailed him for four years last week but, in light of his age and health problems, agreed to suspend three years of the term.

Portraits of all former lord mayors hang in City Hall but Murray's was one of the most prominent.

FURIOUS

Everyone visiting the mayoral chamber for functions -- including annual children's Christmas functions -- would have to pass under the portrait by a stairwell.

Last week, Cllr Chris O'Leary (SF) privately asked that Murray's portrait be removed from public view in light of representations he had received from constituents who were furious over the nature of the offences.

Schools in the Cork ward where Murray served as a council member for 14 years have also removed all pictures of him from public display.

"I didn't want any public controversy over this because it is a sensitive issue.

"But I felt it was the right thing to do following the concerns that were expressed to me by constituents. It is just a pity that this couldn't have been agreed before it became an issue in the media," Cllr O'Leary said.

Yesterday a special meeting of all party whips on Cork City Council agreed -- following almost an hour of discussion -- to remove the former lord mayor's portrait from City Hall.

Last week, both Fianna Fail and Labour members raised concerns over the portrait's removal, warning that "history cannot be unmade" and that the former lord mayor cannot be "air-brushed away".

However, the Irish Independent has learned that Murray's victim sent a personal letter to the council outlining the impact the vile offences had on her.

She said her preference was for the removal of the portrait of her attacker.

One source said that the victim's correspondence had a decisive impact on the whips meeting.

There are no plans to remove Murray's name from a plaque listing all the various lord mayoral office holders on a wall outside the main council chamber.

Irish Independent

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