Wednesday 22 November 2017

Man who claims responsibility for blowing up Nelson's Pillar tells Liveline he only succeeded in doing it on his second attempt

Nelson's Pillar after the explosion, March 1966
Nelson's Pillar after the explosion, March 1966

John Brennan

Liam Sutcliffe, the man who claims responsibility for blowing up Nelson’s Pillar only succeeded in doing so on his second attempt.

Mr Sutcliffe claimed to have tried to blow it up for the first time on February 28, 1966.

“First time we tried it was the 28 February – it didn’t work and we went back the next morning and replaced it the following Monday… inside on the top of the pillar,” he said.

He explained that there were “six or seven people on the viewing platform” when he placed the bomb “inside on the top of the pillar”.

However, Richard Behal also claimed to have wanted to blow up the pillar before Mr Sutcliffe got there first.

“I had sussed it out… I had the plans for it,” he explained.

“I was on the run at the time from having escaped from Limerick prison,” he told RTE Radio One's Liveline.

Richard Behal claimed to have been in prison after been “accused of having used an anti-tank gun to attack a British warship in Waterford harbour”.

On the night the pillar was blown up, he claims to have been in a house in Ballyfermot – “I did not know that it was going to be bombed or that it had been bombed until my hostess came in and said ‘Oh my god Richard Nelson’s Pillar has been blown up’.

“I was elated, it was a job I had planned to do, I had actually taken engineering calculations – I wouldn’t have blown it exactly as it was blown – I had planned to do an upward blast at the feet of Nelson,” he explained.

Mr Behal was inspired by the 50th anniversary of the 1916 rising which he said was of “immense importance”.

Gerard Griffin who was a night porter in the Anchor Hotel on O’Connell street at the time remembered the night the pillar was blown up.

“There was a bang and a flash and you couldn’t see up or down North Frederick Street for smoke and dust.

“It was in the air for a couple of hours and when it cleared all you could see was people arriving on push bikes looking for bits of souvenirs.”

He added that he thought it was very lucky that no one had been hurt, “it was probably a miracle that no on was hurt,” Mr Griffin said.

Stephen Maughan was a taxi driver the night the pillar was blown up and was directly next to it when it detonated.

Now living in North Carolina, in the United States he told Liveline that he had been described as the “luckiest man to be alive in Dublin, in the Irish Independent the next morning”.

“The explosion went off above me, it blew a circle of flame around the pillar it started raining down  pieces of the pillar and I got thrown around I drove over the pieces of granite.

“It was a carpet of one tonne or more rocks that came down – I was very lucky I got through,” he explained.

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