Originally designed to be part of the celebrations for the Millennium in 2000, its construction was delayed (of course it was) due to certain rejected designers being miffed it had been awarded to a British designer. Thankfully, the courts saw sense and Ian Ritchie’s elegant design was approved and constructed.
Since then, I have marveled at it being the focal point of the main thoroughfare of my city. It is clear it has made a positive contribution to Dublin, as it was what prompted the clean up and redesign of O’Connell Street, to make it a street worthy of the great city that Dublin is.
In fact, the only thing that I don’t like about the Spire is that it is not as tall as it should be. In true Irish fashion, its original planned height, which was around 600 ft, was reduced to the current 400 ft as it was considered too tall. Too tall for what, I have no idea.
Recently, Cllr. Oisín Quinn (Labour) of Dublin City Council received a letter imploring him to investigate whether the Spire could be renamed after the late South African president, Nelson Mandela. Of course, such a letter should have received a response detailing that a monument in Dublin City cannot be named after someone until they have been dead for at least twenty years and the Spire cannot be renamed, as per the original project outline and also that the Committee tends not to rename existing structures.
Mr. Quinn should have informed the letter writer of the above and that would have been the end of the matter. He should also have stressed that the reason that the twenty year rule exists is to ensure flavours of the month and zeitgeist choices are not suggested. It should also ensure that the name of a monument is not hijacked by populism and is a considered decision.
Mr. Quinn, of course, did no such thing and instead instigated a meeting of the Commemorative Naming Committee of the Council (which, luckily, rejected the idea).
It may come as a shock, but I firmly believe the monument on the main thoroughfare in the middle of my city should NOT be named after a dead former head of State of a foreign nation. EVER.
Nelson Mandela’s contribution to my city and my country is almost non-existent. Why should the people of Dublin honour him with such a gesture? There have been countless Irish men and women who are way more deserving of the honour.
In fact, I would wager that if Ian Paisley was to kick the bucket this year maybe he should be considered instead. He has contributed immensely to Irish life and politics and is revered by Irish people in certain quarters. He should easily place ahead of Mandela on that basis alone. But if Big Ian was indeed to meet his maker this year, by rights it should be no earlier than 2034 before he should be considered for a monument in the Capital.
So how about not changing the Spire’s name (because we can’t) and if we do (which we shouldn’t and can’t), why not pick someone that deserves it?
Namely John Redmond or Robert Emmet* or Constance Markievicz**.
But please, not Nelson Mandela.
* a road in Inchicore is named for him already
** a park in Ballyfermot is already named for her