TDs call for new Luas bridge to be named after Tony Gregory

Brother of late Dublin Central deputy says he championed the regeneration of the area

The late Tony Gregory putting up election posters in Dublin city in May 2007.Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

The late Tony Gregory putting up election posters in Dublin city in May 2007.Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Thu, May 2, 2013, 15:34

Friends and former colleagues of the late independent Dublin TD Tony Gregory have stepped up their campaign to have the new Luas bridge over the Liffey named after him.

Dublin Central TD Maureen O’Sullivan, who was elected to Mr Gregory’s former seat in the by-election following his death in 2009, introduced the group at a press event in Dublin today.

Among the supporters were TDs Finian McGrath , Catherine Murphy, Shane Ross, Joe Higgins, Mick Wallace and Thomas Pringle and Senator Terry Leyden.

Mr Gregory’s brother Noel noted Dublin City Council had decided last December that anyone receiving such an accolade would have to have been dead for 20 years.

He had, however,also nominated the so-called Gregory Deal of 1982 in the hope that the bridge will be named the Gregory Bridge.

Under that deal, the late Tony Gregory secured a regeneration plan for his constituency in return for supporting a minority Fianna Fáil government led by Charles Haughey.

A commemorative naming policy for monuments and infrastructure approved by the council in December specifies the person must have been born or lived in the city and have had “strong and/or enduring connections ” with it.

He or she must have made a “unique and outstanding contribution to the life or history of Dublin through outstanding achievement, distinctive service or significant community contribution”.

Where a monument is named after an event, it will have to have occurred at least 20 years previously “unless it is of extraordinary and long-lasting consequence to the city”.

“I thought that the naming of the bridge would be left to council officials and experts,” Mr Gregory said today. But he believed it would ultimately be a political decision.

He hoped the chairman of the council’s commemoration committee, Labour’s Dermot Lacey, would not simply say Tony Gregory was not eligible because he had not been dead for 20 years.

He believed the Abbey Theatre also had a legitimate interest in the naming of the bridge and suggested it might be called the Gregory Bridge in honour both of his brother and of Lady Augusta Gregory, co-founder of the theatre.

“And Lady Augusta Gregory, of course, is 20 years dead. We could call it the Gregory Bridge to commemorate both of them – kill two birds with one stone.”

“Tony championed urban regeneration in the Marlborough Street area and he fought for the rights of street traders. He also struggled to rid that area of heroin dealers so I think honour an ordinary Dub, a local hero.

“I always regarded Tony as a bridge between the industrial working class on the Marlborough Street side, the inner city side, and the State bureaucracy on the other side.”

Independent TD Catherine Murphy said Mr Gregory had been known as a “rock-solid Dubliner” and a “real champion of the people” who was there to speak for the community he served.

Dublin City Council’s Commemorative Committee is due to make a recommendation next month on what the bridge should be called. About 40 names are potentially in the running.

They include James Connolly, writer Maeve Binchy, scientist Ernest Walton, 1913 Lockout activist Rosie Hackett and Legion of Mary founder Frank Duff. Also on the list are the late Dubliners singers Luke Kelly and Ronnie Drew, Dracula author Bram Stoker and 19th century writer Lafcadio Hearn.

Earlier this month, the Abbey Theatre, which has its home just yards from the north side of the bridge at Marlborough Street, launched an online petition to have the new construction named after itself.