College bans painting depicting bare-chested Charles Haughey after parents object

A Cork artist has had a painting that includes a risqué image of former Taoiseach, Charlie Haughey, withdrawn from an exhibition opening tonight at the CIT Cork School of Music (CSM), according to Colette Sheridan of the Evening Echo.

The Evening Echo reports that Joe McNicholas, a graduate of the Limerick College of Art and Design, is one of three artists taking part in the exhibition entitled ‘Spring Notes.’

McNicholas posted on his Facebook page: "I'm sad to say that my satirical painting 'An Irish Political Allegory' has been deemed unfit to be shown in the group exhibition 'Spring Notes', which opens at the Cork School of Music this evening. Keep an eye out for today's Evening Echo."

McNicholas says he was “absolutely shocked” when he received an email from the director of CSM, Dr Geoffrey Spratt, who said that having received “a very significant number of complaints about two of the paintings,” he decided to remove one of them.

Artist, Joe McNicholas.

The painting in question, ‘An Irish Political Allegory’, measuring eight feet by five feet, includes a small image of a bare-chested Haughey and a topless woman. Joe said: “The woman is my symbol of Ireland, like Kathleen Ní Houlihan. I felt it was appropriate that Haughey should be represented. He was having his way with Ireland.”

The foreground of the “satirical painting” shows former Taoiseach, Brian Cowen in the pose of Rodin’s sculpture, The Thinker.

There are also depictions of de Valera, Sean Lemass, and Jack Lynch.

The painting 'An Irish Political Allegory' by Joe McNicholas.

If you can's see it above click here to view it.

The paintings went on view on Tuesday and according to Dr Spratt, some parents and members of staff objected to the image in question “as unsuitable for those under the age of eighteen.”

Dr Spratt acknowledged “the basic concept of freedom of expression.”

However, Dr Spratt said: “I can only reiterate that the CSM has a duty-of-care to more than 3,000 students under the age of 18, and if both parents and members of staff tell me they do not wish the school to display such imagery, I cannot ignore them.”

Dr Spratt didn’t respond to a query as to how many people expressed their objection to the image.


Most Read in Ireland