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23 January 2003 Edition

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What's the point?

Thousands of Dubliners stopped to have a gawk this week as the finishing touches were put to the 120-foot spike that now stands in the middle of the capital. The final piece of the stainless steel 'Spire of Light', which has cost taxpayers §4.6 million, was lifted into place while people stood with mouths open on the streets below.

So now there's a big piece of metal on O'Connell Street, almost 37 years after the IRA dramatically revoked planning permission for Nelson's Pillar. The spike doesn't honour any of our historical figures. You can't climb up it to have a look over the city, and there's no revolving restaurant on top. It's meant to reflect the colour of the Dublin sky, but sure aren't the pavements grey already.

The wags are already trying to name it, with the Nail in the Pale and and the Stilleto in the Ghetto just two. Some are saying that with the current health crisis, it's as close as the people of Dublin can get to a needle without being on a two-year hospital waiting list.

But at §4.6 million is it worth it? There are 6,000 people homeless on the streets, grannies are being treated in hospital car parks because there are no beds, the City Council has been bullied into hiking already unjust bin charges because the government won't properly fund local democracy, and house prices continue to spiral.

It will probably get dirty and end up covered in graffiti. Bookies are already offering odds on it being brought down by an aircraft or a bus.

But for all that begrudgery, at least this tall monument represents an official gesture towards public art and represents an ambitious start to improving what has become a squalid, fast-food emporium driven main street.

And there is a sneaking suspicion that Dublin city's night sky will be enhanced when the top of the spike is illuminated next week.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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