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Dublin: 13 °C Sunday 15 September, 2019

50 years later and the Nelson's Pillar bomber says he has no regrets

Liam Sutcliffe planted the bomb which destroyed the monument half a century ago.

THE MAN WHO blew up Nelson’s Pillar spoke at length today about the bombing and its aftermath – saying that he had no regrets.

Liam Sutcliffe blew up the Nelson’s Pillar monument on Dublin’s O’Connell Street 50 years ago today. The explosion had been planned by himself and a number of other Republicans.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Liveline this afternoon, Sutcliffe defended himself and the bombing, saying that it was a response to the “occupation of Ireland”.

When asked if he ever regretted blowing the monument up, Sutcliffe responded.

“Never, no – sure they never regretted blowing up O’Connell Street,” in reference to the shelling of Dublin by British forces during the 1916 Easter Rising.

He said that the blowing up of the pillar was agreed upon while he and others were having a drink and discussing how to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising.

No pre-warning was phoned in or issued to the authorities prior to the bomb going off. Sutcliffe said that there was “no need” as it was set to detonate late at night.

“There was no need to [phone in a warning] because it was going to go off at 1.32 – Dublin was closed at that time,” he said.

File Photo 50th Anniversary of blowing up of Nelsons Pillar. William Sutcliffe was talking on the Joe Duffy Radio Show today. William Sutcliffe Source:


A number of people rang into Liveline in response to Sutcliffe being on the show – with some eye-witnesses giving different accounts of the night than his.

One man, Gerry Flanagan, who had been a member of the gardaí based in Kevin Street, said there would have been people in the area coming out of dances at the time that the bomb went off.

“We were sent down as a matter of security to keep people away from the place at that time of the night,” he said.

Gerard Griffin, a hotel porter at the Anchor Hotel, formerly at the top of O’Connell Street said that he saw the explosion on the night.

As I opened the door there was a bang and a flash and you couldn’t see up or down North Frederick Street for the smoke and the dust.

“He’s quite wrong in saying that there was nothing happening around O’Connell Street,” said Griffin, who said that the area was a hive of activity at the time.

It was probably a miracle that there was nobody ever killed with that explosion.

However, Sutcliffe repeatedly defended himself, saying that the bomb had been well-planted and that the people involved “knew what they were doing”.

File Photo 50th Anniversary of blowing up of Nelsons Pillar. William Sutcliffe was talking on the Joe Duffy Radio Show today. Suthcliffe stands where the pillar once stood on O'Connell Street in 2000 Source:

As the programme drew to a close, a final caller, Stephen Maughan, came on air.

Maughan was a taxi driver in Dublin at the time and said that he had been the closest person to the pillar after it exploded.

“I was on the way to the Rotunda to pick up a blood sample,” said Maughan.

[A traffic light] was red I stopped, it turned green I went to move and the explosion went off.

Maughan said that he was thrown around his car from the explosion.

“As you know it was a carpet of one tonne or more of rocks that came down… I was lucky to get through,” he said.

Maughan said that he was described as the “luckiest man to be alive” in the Irish Independent the next morning – but that he went to work fine the next day.

I was fine.. back then there was no post-traumatic stress disorder… I went to work the next day.

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About the author:

Cormac Fitzgerald

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