The solution to statues.

All hail the new guy and everybody can go about their business. I don’t know what they did with the old heads but if they were big enough they could probably be chiselled into toilet bowls maybe, as the final insult? 

Admittedly, it might be tricky with some existing statues, but horses for courses, as they say. 

I could easily see Bertie Ahern’s head on the O’Connell statue on O’Connell Street in Dublin, and Paul Murphy, Richard Boyd Barrett or Ryan Tubridy could easily rest comfortably on the shouty statue of Big Jim Larkin just down the road.  

There’s plenty of statues of now forgotten aldermen around the place that could be repurposed every 20 years. In Dublin city council in particular it could be a whole new area of debate to divert them from their current debates and deep concern for the housing and planning situation in Gaza. In fact, it’s not impossible we’d end with a load of statues of leading figures in Hezbollah, which would be novel. Who knows? 

As for the question of new statues in future, of who merits public honouring going forward, a bit of imagination and technology could work. If we end up in a united Ireland, we might have a demand for a whole new batch of statues that cross the divide. I think we could probably agree that a statue of Liam Neeson menacing someone on a phone could be a wonderful symbol of the new Ireland. Perhaps also a statue of Boris Johnson who could unite both sides of the sectarian divide in animosity? One man’s Lundy is another man’s Bertie Wooster. 

As for the more contentious ones, like the Edward Carson statue outside Stormont, is there anything to be said for building a replica for the plinth outside Leinster House, but equipping both platforms with an equal-sized statue of Michael Collins and through a series of hydraulic lifts and trapdoors we could have them popping up and down at random moments causing equal cheer and anger to the watching crowds as their favourite rockets up out of the hatch to a blast of the Tones or “The sash my father wore”. They could be set on a random rotating setting so that people could place bets as to which one will pop up next.   

To ensure future proofing, we could also consider holograms, which of course gives us the added benefit of just deleting people who fall out of favour, or perhaps restoring people if history takes a new look at them. We could find ourselves gazing admiringly at the towering visages of Shane Ross or John Delaney shimmering above the streets, although we would have to be careful that the system doesn’t get hacked and suddenly have the glowering sneer of Cromwell or Nigel Farage peering down upon us. 

Of course, it is possible that the age of consensus is over, and that it may be impossible to agree on which public or historical figures to honour, especially given the po-faced Stalinist attitudes of a growing section of society who regard any human flaw or change in public attitudes as grounds for absolute cancellation from society. We might have to settle for the great fictional figures of the age with a link to Ireland, like Dracula, Jed Bartlet, Pat Mustard and Tyrion Lanister. Why not? After all, Budapest has a statue of “Colombo”.  

But then, that’s where technology could help. As we have a Covid tracker app on our phones now, there’s nothing to stop us all having a SafeStatue app on our devices as well, that will change the holographic image based on the consensus of people around it. I could see a statue of Garret Fitzgerald waving whereas someone else could see Una Mulally chastising a straight white man for existing, or Fintan apologising for same. 

You know, something for everyone. Until someone starts complaining that they’re offended not by the statue that they can’t see but by the fact that someone else can see it. Then it’ll all kick off, especially in a country that just loves to be offended on behalf of something else.  

It is possible that we just won’t be able to agree, and instead will have statues based on the events that we all agree brought us together as a people. Like the Easter rising, Euro ‘90, when Fidelma bedded Miley (The jezebel!)  and of course that time we as a country stepped up and rescued Matt Damon from Covid. 

Maybe that’s the way forward. 

Nothing says Ireland like a statue of a major Hollywood star carrying a bag from Centra that we all hoped for one brief moment was full of a few cans and a breakfast roll.           

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