A DUBLIN CITY Council committee will sit down later today to discuss the possible renaming of the Millennium Spire in honour of the late Nelson Mandela.
The suggestion came about after a member of the public wrote to Lord Mayor Oisín Quinn suggesting the move would be a fitting tribute to the late South African leader, who was named a free man of the city in 1988.
Quinn said he believed Dublin should honour Mandela in some manner, and that it was a question of finding the most appropriate manner to do so.
“There’s no doubt that the Mandela name should become a permanent fixture of the the city,” Quinn told TheJournal.ie.
“There are a lot of links — Dublin was the first capital city to award him the Freedom of the City while he was still in prison. There’s the proximity in that area to the Dunnes Stores where staff staged their strike over apartheid.”
Nelson Mandela receives an honorary degree in Trinity in 2000 [Photocall Ireland]
This afternoon’s meeting of the Commemorative Naming Committee is the first step in what would be a long, involved process — even if there was unanimous support for the move among the eight-person panel.
Labour councillor Demot Lacey, who chairs the committee, said that while he believed the city should honour the late leader, he had a “couple of reservations” when it came to the Spire suggestion.
Lacey said the committee had two main guidelines: that there should be a waiting period of around 20 years after a person’s death before a major landmark could be named after them, and that once structures, roads or bridges were named, they shouldn’t be renamed.
“The situation was different with what’s now known as the Rosie Hackett Bridge,” Lacey explained.
The naming of the new Luas Bridge across the Liffey included a long submissions process, whereby members of the public sent in their suggestions for people who could be honoured. That list was whittled down by the councillors on the committee over a series of meetings, before finally being put to the council as a whole last September.
“In general I’m not in favour of renaming things,” Lacey said.
“We have 2016 coming up and there could end up being enormous pressure to rename half the city.”
“We have agreed to look at it though, and while one part of me says ‘yes, of course he should be honoured,’ another part of me says we should be mindful of our own guidelines.”
Lacey suggested that naming a new structure in honour of the anti-apartheid hero might be a better move — and said that may well happen with the redevelopment of Parnell square as Dublin’s ‘cultural quarter’.
The Commemorative Naming Committee meets to discuss the proposal at 2pm this afternoon. The eight person panel comprises three members of Labour, two Fine Gael councillors, one each from Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil and one independent.