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Gerry's memorial bench sparks row with councillors

THE memorial bench to Gerry Ryan has sparked a row about the need for a policy on the erection of plaques in the city.

A Fine Gael councillor wants City Hall to ensure that there are specific criteria in place for when a plaque can be erected.

Dublin City Council workers put the finishing touches to a €850 bench dedicated to the late 2fm star in Herbert Park in Ballsbridge.

The original wooden seat was torched by thugs last January but the local authority was quick to restore the feature.

Cllr Paddy McCartan has now asked officials to review the criteria used in assessing applications for plaques.

Speaking to the Herald, Mr McCartan stressed he does not have a problem with Gerry's memorial.

But he said elected members were not notified of the installation and he believes this should have been done.

The councillor added that he does not have an issue with Gerry Ryan, but said: "I don't want a bench there for Bertie Ahern just because he pays €800 for it."

However, he admitted: "I was not a great admirer of Gerry Ryan."

Mr McCartan said it is the council's parks division which decides on the "appropriateness or otherwise" of a plaque dedicated to a particular individual, without any reference to elected representatives.

The bench is dedicated to Gerry by his partner Melanie Verwoerd to mark the area where they spent so a lot of time together.

Ms Verwoerd has talked movingly about how she and Gerry enjoyed visiting the park in spring, when the cherry blossoms came into bloom.

The plaque attached to the bench includes a quote from one of Gerry's favourite films -- Moulin Rouge.

"For Gerry. Seasons may change winter to spring, but I love you till the end of time," it reads and is signed 'Melanie'.

Ms Verwoerd said the seat had been a "place of comfort" to her and to "many members of the public who miss Gerry".