The Sunday Independent on the 12 April 2015

‘Why now”, is the question repeatedly asked as the monuments of the ancien régime are brought down by popular fury. Whilst seeming straightforward, the question itself has a double meaning. It betrays surprise at the very fall of the statues, whilst also suggesting that there was a pre-determined date by which the statues will be, or should have been, removed.

And, the answer lies in the inverse question: “Why not now?” The monuments are falling exactly at the time when they ought to. They’re being toppled by the sheer force of the tension between our foundational values as a country, on the one hand, and their meaning, on the other.

Monuments are not architectural pieces. They hold symbolical power, projecting the foundational values and authority of the State. What I mean, therefore, is that monuments serve a legitimising role in society. They cultivate popular acceptance and consent to the authority of the State.