Council drops controversial street name plans after objections

© Supplied
How the proposed area would look.

Councillors could perform a u-turn on renaming a Dundee street after complaints over links to the Irish Famine.

Russell Street, named after former Liberal Prime Minister John Russell, was wiped from the map in the late 1960s to make way for Bucklemaker and Butterburn courts at the top of the Hilltown.

Russell served as PM between 1846 and 1851 and again in 1865. He also served as home secretary and foreign secretary.

Councillors had been asked to approve the name for a new street linking Derby Street with Strathmartine Road but campaigners say Russell’s behaviour and role in the 19th century disaster should render his name unusable.

Russell is accused of doing nothing to assist the Irish population during the devastating famine of the 1840s, which saw an estimated one million people starve to death.

The former MP was also responsible for the appointment of Charles Trevelyan, a politician appointed to administer relief in Ireland.

Trevelyan’s name has become synonymous with Britain’s practices in Ireland and his ill treatment of the Irish population is immortalised in the famous folk song, The Fields of Athenry.

More than 600 people have signed a petition calling for the Russell name to be ditched.

Campaigner Georgia Grainger said: “I have serious concerns about this plan and the naming of the street.

“Russell Street was originally named after the Prime Minister John Russell, who was a Whig PM, known primarily for overseeing the Irish Famine and its aftermath.

“He believed that laissez-faire, free-market economics would solve the famine, and thus lead to the death of approximately one million Irish people, and the emigration of one million more.

“A major part of Russell’s response to the famine was the appointment of Charles Trevelyan to administer governmental relief; Trevelyan has since been described as “quasi-genocidal” for his beliefs about Irish people and his implementation of relief – he refused to administer food relief.

“Trevelyan’s punitive treatment of the Irish is so well-known in Ireland that he is the villain in the famous song The Field’s of Athenry.”

Georgia continued: “As one of the most recent generation of Irish people to decide to call Dundee my home in the hopes of better opportunities and more welcoming politics, I’m disappointed that Dundee City Council would choose to name a street after a man who allowed and administered such tragedy in Ireland.

“I understand that this is because that was what the street used to be called, but this is the perfect opportunity to change it.”

Dundee’s city development convener Councillor Lynne Short confirmed the council will reconsider its name for the site.

She said: “I was unaware of the background of Russell but when it was pointed out we took the decision to review.

“It is a street name and should not be there to be controversial but enhance a wonderful regenerated area of the city.”