A Birmingham charity has backed a controversial decision to add the face of a former lord mayor to the city’s iconic JFK mural.
A row broke out when a likeness of the late Mike Nangle was incorporated into the restored artwork ahead of its move to Digbeth later this month.
Critics, including academic and broadcaster Prof Carl Chinn, accused the Labour-run authority of failing to consult the community over the decision.
And the move was also branded a “purely party political decision” which was “done in secret” by former Birmingham Liberal Democrat councillor Martin Mullaney.
But now the Digbeth-based welfare and cultural advice charity Irish in Birmingham has issued an official statement welcoming the inclusion of Mr Nangle, the city’s first Irish lord mayor in 2005.
Chief executive Maurice Malone said: “We are delighted the restored and renewed JFK memorial mosaic is nearing completion and is being re-sited in Digbeth.
“John F Kennedy was, and remains, for Ireland and the Irish a significant figure, encapsulating the essential ingredients of the American dream while taking on and standing up to prejudice and discrimination.
“As the first person with a direct link to Ireland to enter the White House, his light still shines brightly almost 50 years after his tragic assassination in Dallas.
“Irish in Birmingham understands the council’s decision to pay tribute in the mosaic to Birmingham’s first Irish-born Lord Mayor.
“We welcome the council’s recognition of the contribution the Irish community has made to Birmingham’s civic society.”
The mural was created in 1968 following donations from the city’s Irish community and stood at St Chad’s Circus subway until its demolition in 2006.
It has now been re-made and will be installed on Digbeth High Street, with the official unveiling scheduled to take place on November 22, the 49th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination.
A council spokesman said: “Mike Nangle was Birmingham’s first Irish-born lord mayor, which makes him a significant Irish political figure in history, just as President Kennedy was with his Irish links.
“His inclusion in the restored memorial is in no way political as he is being included on the basis he was the lord mayor, the non-political first citizen of Birmingham.”