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We can't name city park after Wilde who 'hunted young boys' for sex

A liberature professor has voiced "amazement" at a campaign to rename a Dublin park after Oscar Wilde, saying the author "hunted" underage boys "without scruple".

Joseph O'Leary, who lectures at a Japanese university, criticised proposals for the ditching of Archbishop Dermot Ryan's name from the park at Merrion Square.

Dublin City councillors voted to drop the name out of respect for those who suffered sexual abuse by priests during Archbishop Ryan's time in charge of the Dublin diocese.

Prostitutes

A Facebook campaign for the name Oscar Wilde Park was set up and is receiving huge support, with nearly 2,000 members so far.

"I was amazed to read... about people wanting to honour Oscar Wilde in place of Archbishop Dermot Ryan," Prof O'Leary of Sophia University in Tokyo said.

"Is it not the case that Wilde hunted young boys in Algeria with (French author) Andre Gide in 1895 and that his conviction also concerned boy prostitutes in London?"

"Ryan is accused of lacking vigilance in preventing the very behaviour that Wilde and Gide indulged in without scruple. How does this make Ryan a villain and Wilde a hero?"

Councillors voted to change the name of the park in the wake of the Murphy Report into child sexual abuse in the Dublin diocese as a "gesture to all of those who suffered as a result of clerical abuse".

The late Archbishop Ryan was criticised in the report for his handling of abuse complaints against priests during his time in office. He presided over the Dublin diocese for 12 of the years covered the Murphy Commission.

The report found that between 1972 and 1984 he "failed to properly investigate complaints" against any of the six priests dealt with by the Commission from his period in office.

The park that bears the bishop's name already features a statue of Oscar Wilde.

Hot Press Bootboy columnist Dermod Moore, one of those behind the Facebook campaign, said the genius of Wilde, and the fact that he once lived in the square, made him the obvious choice.

"This would not be just tokenism, it would be hugely symbolic of how much Ireland has changed," he said.

aphelan@herald.ie


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