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Is Nelson's Pillar about to return with a name change for Spire?

NELSON'S Pillar could be making a comeback to Dublin, this time in honour of the late Nelson Mandela.

Dublin City Council has formed a committee to consider renaming the Millennium Spire on O'Connell Street after the South African freedom fighter and president.

The idea emerged after a member of the public wrote to Lord Mayor Oisin Quinn suggesting the name change.

They said it would be appropriate because of the spire's proximity to Dunnes Stores in Henry Street where workers refused to handle exports from 1980s apartheid South Africa. The idea is on the agenda of the Commemorative Naming Committee that is due to meet today.

In 1988 Mandela was made a freeman of Dublin – the first capital city in the world to bestow such an honour on him.

Labour councillor Dermot Lacey, the chairman of the committee, said the rules state that a person must be dead 20 years before they can be honoured in this way. However, he added that "everything was up for discussion".

EXCLUDED

Committee member Nial Ring said the 20-year rule was behind the reasoning that saw the late Tony Gregory's name excluded from consideration for the new Liffey bridge, which was eventually named last September after trade unionist Rosie Hackett.

Nelson's Pillar stood at the site of the Spire until 1966. It was erected in 1808 and was among the first monuments to honour Admiral Lord Nelson.

The pillar was blown up in 1966 by a group of former IRA volunteers who planted a bomb that destroyed the upper half. No one was injured.

Six days after the attack, army engineers blew up the rest of the pillar, but the planned demolition caused more destruction on O'Connell Street than the original blast.

The head of Nelson's statue is now housed in the Gilbert Library in Pearse Street.

The 120-metre spire, which is also known as the Monument of Light, was part of the redesign of O'Connell Street that began in 1999.

clairemurphy@herald.ie


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