Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Bid to rename city Spire blocked

Councillors unanimously rejected renaming the Spire

Hopes of renaming Dublin's Millennium Spire after Nelson Mandela have been dashed after councillors unanimously rejected the idea.

Dermot Lacey, chair of the council's commemorative naming committee, said the decision was not a reflection on South Africa's first black president.

"We are coming into a decade of commemoration and if we renamed the Spire there would be pressure to rename half of Dublin in memory of different people," the Labour councillor said.

"We don't think that would be a good thing."

The idea to rename the O'Connell Street Spire after Mandela, who died aged 94 in December, arose after a member of the public wrote to the Lord Mayor Oisin Quinn.

Fiachra O Luain came up with the idea, claiming it would be a fitting tribute due to its close proximity to Dunnes Stores on Henry Street where workers led a historic strike in the 1980s when they refused to handle fruit imported from the apartheid regime.

The suggestion was to call it the Nelson Mandela Pillar - in part paving the way for a return to O'Connell Street for the name Nelson, after a column in honour of the British admiral was blown up by the IRA in 1966.

Mandela was made a freeman of Dublin city in 1988 after an original proposal to grant him the honour was rejected in 1983.

Mr Lacey said the naming committee had agreed to stick to certain principles including that no structure be named after someone who has been dead less than 20 years and that no existing structure be renamed.

"We adopted these principles from the beginning. We are endorsing them, and that's it as far as we are concerned," he said.

"It's no reflection on Nelson Mandela. The guidelines are there for a reason and we think it's a good reason."

The council's commemorative naming committee, which was set up about 15 months ago, had as its first major job the naming of the new bridge over the River Liffey. It was agreed in September to name it after trade union activist and member of the Irish Citizen Army Rosie Hackett.

Members of the committee rejected the idea of renaming the Spire unanimously.

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