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Judge spikes Ritchie's Dublin Millennium Spire

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An Irish High Court judge has halted the erection of the 120m-high, steel spire, designed by Ian Ritchie for Dublin's O'Connell Street. He ruled that Dublin Corporation had not followed correct planning procedures on the project - and that the whole preparatory process must start again.

The Corporation, which has already spent IR£600,000 on the planned spire, expressed 'very great disappointment' at the decision and said it was now considering an appeal to the Irish Supreme Court. But City Manager John Fitgerald admitted that there was now no prospect of having the monument erected by the original deadline of 31 December 1999.

The Ritchie design for the monument, to be erected on the site of the old Nelson's Pillar - destroyed by an ira bomb some 30 years ago - was chosen in an architectural competition that attracted more than 200 entries. Ironically, it was one of the unsuccessful candidates, Dublin artist Michael O'Nuallain, who took the High Court action which has prevented the project going ahead.

With the support of prominent Dublin architect Sam Stephenson, he argued in court that the proposed spire would have a detrimental effect on surrounding historic buildings - and that the Corporation should have ordered an environmental impact survey before sanctioning the construction.

Mr Justice Thomas Smith agreed. 'This bold beacon - which is to be the millennium monument - is intended to be erected in the middle of the principal street of the capital of the country, and is intended to affect, and is likely to have significant effects on the environment,' he said. He ruled that an environmental impact assessment was clearly required for the monument, but had not been carried out.

The judge acknowledged that his decision was 'a very serious matter' for the Corporation, but detailed a number of other breaches of the planning procedures, including a failure to make particulars of the project available for inspection by members of the public.

Despite the delay and the extra cost, Corporation officials insist that the ir£3 million Spire will go ahead. It is to be the highlight of a ir£40 million plan to upgrade O'Connell Street, improving both its image and ambience.

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