The Lord Mayor of Dublin has said a proposal to rename a small street in the heart of Dublin after John Hume would not have sufficiently honoured the Derryman.
Councillor Nial Ring was speaking after Dublin City Council (DCC) endorsed new street naming criteria that stipulate that a thoroughfare in the capital can only be named after someone who has been dead for at least 20 years.
This has scuppered a proposal by Independent Councillor and Dublin South East Area Committee (SEAC) member, Mannix Flynn, that Hume Street, which is located just off St. Stephen’s Green, be renamed in honour of the Nobel Peace prize winning former SDLP leader.
Last February several members of the SEAC suggested that renaming Hume Street ‘John Hume Street’ would not have been an appropriate way of paying tribute to Mr. Hume.
The SEAC referred the proposal to DCC’s protocol committee, which has since come back with new criteria stating that such honours can only now be bestowed 20 years posthumously.
However, Colr. Flynn has complained that the new guidelines went against the wishes of the Hume Street residents, who, he said, were in favour of the move.
Speaking on national radio this week Colr. Flynn remarked: “I think these guidelines are going to erode the citizens’ right to have a plebiscite to change names. There hasn’t been an avalanche of citizens wanting to change names.
“It came about, this issue, when the residents of Hume Street made a suggestion that we would simply change the name to ‘John Hume Street’.
“This gave rise to what the city managers said was a loophole in the bye laws and then they decided to close it down.”
Colr. Flynn said the names of buildings and entire developments were being altered all the time in Dublin with very little objection or regulation.
“Thoughout history names have been changed, from the ancient Irish names. The great playwright Brian Friel addressed that in [his seminal play] Translations. So there is a continual evolving of names.
“We’ve renamed bridges. We’ve renamed O’Connell Street, from Sackville Street, etcetera, etcetera.
“I’m not opposed to guidelines but opposed to citizens’ rights being eroded.”
The Lord Mayor rejected these arguments, however, contending that renaming Hume Street would not have been of a sufficient scale to honour someone of John Hume’s stature.
“Mannix is an elected councillor. He voted for the guidlines and we can’t just willy-nilly decide we are going to change them,” said Colr. Ring.
“And when I think of John Hume, for example, and wanting that small little street between Ely Place and St. Stephen’s Green named after him. It was named after Gustavus Hume. He was a surgeon in the 1760s. John Hume has won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Martin Luther King peace prize [sic], the Gandhi Peace Prize. He’s a papal knight. And what do we want to give him in Dublin? We want to give him a little street, you know, fifty yards long, named after him?” queried the Lord Mayor.