Glasgow Council's plans for Famine memorial are 'amatuerish', historian claims

Glasgow Council's plans for Famine memorial are 'amatuerish', historian claims

SCOTTISH historian Sir Tom Devine has called into question the Glasgow Council team handling the authority’s plans to erect an Irish Famine memorial in the city.

The professor believes the approach to the task by the Council, who agreed to take it on more than two years ago, has been “amateurish”.

He made the claims while giving a lecture on the plans and the importance of the memorial to the Irish in Scotland this month, organised by the Irish Heritage Foundation.

“The approach has been amateurish by Glasgow City Council,” Professor Devine said, before adding “their record is not good”, referencing the previously abandoned plans for a £15m redevelopment of the city’s George Square.

Warning that the Council must be held to account on their intentions for the memorial to honour the estimated 100,000 Irish people who fled to the city to escape starvation in Ireland in the 1840s, he added: “This all needs to be transparent. They have a website. Why is there nothing on the website? There are 142 memorials worldwide. Has the council looked at any of them?”

Professor Devine also called for the memorial to be built in memory of all Irish settlers in the city, stating: “This can't be tribal. Protestant Irish died too, even if not as many.”

Before leading a lively question and answer session at the event held at Glasgow City Chambers, he urged the audience to question the work of the Council team involved in the famine memorial project.

“What is the expertise and the make-up of the group and do they have a target date for their finish?” he asked.

“I'm certain that up until now this has been stop and go. It needs to have more opinions, more meetings like this. This was an important event not just for the Irish in Scotland but for Scotland itself,” he added.

“This would not have happened 30 years ago and I don't want to be up here talking about still in another 30 years. We need to start moving on this."

Isabelle Gray, of the Irish Heritage Foundation, reinforced the call for further engagement with the public by the Council, adding: “The next thing we should do is have a proper consultation.”