Fine Gael’s plans to rebuild Nelson’s Pillar on Dublin’s O’Connell Street were outlined by the Taoiseach at question time in the Dáil yesterday.
The Ceann Comhairle was forced to temporarily suspend yesterday’s afternoon sitting after angry exchanges between the opposition and government TDs broke out.
The Ceann Comhairle took his decision after extremely unparliamentary language was exchanged across the floor of the house after the Taoiseach announced plans to rebuild Nelson’s pillar on its original site in O’Connell Street Dublin.
The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had announced to the Dáil that his party in government would support the proposal to rebuild the Nelson commemorative pillar which was destroyed in 1966.
Speaking to the Dáil the Taoiseach said, “Nelson’s Column stood on this site since 1809 when it was erected to commemorate Lord Nelson’s victory over the French and Spanish at Trafalgar.
This was a great British victory; one which Dublin City Council felt should rightly be remembered and honoured by the people of Dublin.”
‘We Were All British then‘
“We need to realize that we were all British then and rightly so,” the Taoiseach continued.
“As we go forward with Brexit, we here on the British Isles need to remember and be proud of our shared heritage with Britain — especially when we can get one over on the Europeans.”
The Taoiseach went on to point out some of the diplomatic advantages to Ireland by rebuilding the Column.
“It is imperative to Ireland’s economic sustainability and economic growth that we remain within the EU — that cow still has a bit more milk in her. However, we as a nation must be pragmatic and keep in with the Brits.”
What better way for a small nation to prosper but to play both sides against the middle?” he asked the house.
There was approval from the government benches, with some deputies very vocal in their criticism of the O’Connell Street Spire which was erected in 2003 on the site of Nelson’s column.
Deputy Fergus Mc Mahon (FG Wexford) said, “We replaced a monument to a great man with an overgrown knitting needle. We as a nation should be ashamed of ourselves. It’s time we brought back a sense of pride in our heritage.”
Sinn Fein Reaction
Surprisingly Sinn Fein TDs were also in favour of the proposal with one party spokesperson saying, “we are all for the idea.
Since the implementation of the Good Friday agreement and the subsequent peace process, some of our members have been growing bored with nothing to do.” The spokesperson said.
“The re-building of Nelson’s column will give them a focus; we hope the planning and carrying out of the inevitable blowing-up again of the column will take their minds off our dismal performance in the polls.” She continued.
The timescale for the removal of the spire and re-erection of the column is expected to be in the region of two years.
Paddy Power Bookmakers are giving odds on the how long the new column will last once erect.