Fairview Park Protest March photographed on Amiens Street, Dublin by Derek Speirs, courtesy “Out For Ourselves” (Womens Community Press, 1986) | Irish Queer Archives/Come here to me | 14074
In 1982 during the summer a series of systematic beatings was carried out in Fairview Park, Dublin. Gay men used the park as a meeting place and for cruising. On September 10, the gang attacked 31-year-old Aer Rianta worker Declan Flynn. One of the gang was used as ‘bait’ and when Flynn sat down next to him on the bench, the other four rushed out from behind trees.
Their victim managed to run towards the gate and the main road but did not get out of the park in time. They kicked and beat him with sticks and left Declan Flynn lying on the path choking on his own blood. He died within an hour of admission to Blanchardstown Hospital.
Mr Flynn, living in a country where and when homosexuality was illegal, was not out to his family.
Fairview Park, Dublin | Google Maps | 14075
His attackers were 19 year old Tony Maher, 18 year old Robert Armstrong, who were both members of the Air Corps, 18 year old Patrick Kavanagh, 17 year old Colm Donovan and a 14-year-old boy. “We were all part of the team to get rid of queers in Fairview Park,” Armstrong later said.
In March 1983, in court, Justice Sean Gannon gave them suspended sentences for manslaughter and allowed the five to walk free. “This,” he said, “could never be regarded as murder.”
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The ruling caused outrage – as did the judge’s comments that the so-called vigilantes were “cleaning up the area” – and became the catalyst for Ireland’s fledgling gay rights movement, leading to the foundation of the main gay organisations in the Republic of Ireland.