Man 'who blew up Pillar' pleased

 

The man who claims he blew up Nelson's Pillar in 1966 said the Spire, which replaces it, was "absolutely fabulous".

Mr Liam Sutcliffe (70), speaking yesterday after the final section of the 120-metre monument was put in place, said however it would be "for other people" to say whether it was a suitable monument to his efforts.

"It looked magnificent. I was there from about 10 o'clock this morning. It looks like a great engineering job and a much better thing to have on the main street than an old foreign admiral with a broken arm and a missing leg."

Mr Sutcliffe, now living in Walkinstown, Dublin, was questioned by gardaí in September 2000 following a radio interview in which he said he was responsible for blowing up the 158-year-old pillar in 1966.

He was released and the matter was taken no further.

The idea to blow up the statue came during a discussion in the Cosy Bar on the Crumlin Road, Belfast, said Mr Sutcliffe.

"I was having a drink with an old friend at the time. The 1916 Rising was being marked with functions and dinners and the \ campaign was fizzled out.

" We thought the Rising should be marked with something a bit more dramatic and my friend's sister-in-law said it was shocking to see a British admiral in O'Connell Street. So I said we should remove it."

He suggested it to a senior member of the republican movement, who initially thought it would be too dangerous but then agreed it would be a good idea.

"The first attempt was on the last day of February but the bomb didn't go off. So I had to go up on March 1st and remove it. I went into Clery's, bought a nail clippers and stripped it. I had a week then to drop it back. I went back on March 7th, had electrics in a briefcase. I connected everything up and placed it in an aperture - one of the widows at the top - that looked up Henry Street.

"I shook the hand of the man up guarding the platform and said 'Cheerio'. He went off after his shift that night and the bomb went off at 1.32 in the morning. I had it timed for 2 a.m. but I had it on fast and it gained 28 minutes."

Asked whether he saw the bomb go off, he said: "I did not. I was at home tucked up in bed. I didn't know it had gone off at all until I saw it on the front page of the paper that morning."

He was "delighted" and thought the pillar would be replaced with a statue of the seven signatories of the Proclamation facing the GPO.

"I thought they would have done that. In Ireland there's not even a statue of Pearse. In all other former colonies they honour the men who got up and said 'No further shalt thou go'.

"But I think the Spire will be magnificent. I think it will attract people, as long as people don't start scribbling on it."

He also thought it would be "explosion-proof".