Michael Staines
Michael Staines

19.51 14 May 2021


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It would take up a “huge amount of resources” for Gardaí to police to area around Portobello square this weekend, according to Dublin City Council.

The council has shut down the area for the weekend – claiming that gatherings there on recent weekends were “basically large street parties of people drinking.”

On The Hard Shoulder this evening, Coilin O'Reilly from the DCC Office of City Recovery said officials will review the closure on Monday.

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'Draconian' Portobello square shut down will just drive people to other areas

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“I think there are three main issues here,” he said.

“Number one, gatherings of this size are obviously in breach of public health guidelines as they currently stand.

“Two, people who are partaking in the consumption of alcohol are in breach of our own intoxicating liquor bylaws.

“But the main and most fundamental issue here is that his is a residential area and I would ask people to put themselves in the shoes of the residents.

“There are basically large street parties of people drinking with up to 1,000 people gathering here every Friday and Saturday night, every single weekend.”

He said the decision was made in consultation with local residents, Gardaí and public representatives.

He said it would take up too much resources to ask Gardaí to police to area and insisted that the council can’t provide toilets because “gatherings of this size are banned under public health guidelines.”

“From our point of view, this is for this weekend and we are going to review it on Monday and see where we can go going forward and see how it works this weekend,” he said.

Also on the show, Peter Dooley from the Dublin Renters Union said the ‘decision will simply push people to other parts of the area.

“These draconian, nonsensical measures, to just put up a barrier to try and deter people, just don’t make any sense,” he said. “They’re just going to go somewhere else.

“Young people have been hammered by lockdowns in particular and now they have nowhere to go.

“It just goes to show you how short-sighted all these decisions are. Knee-jerk reactions rather than having a plan in place regarding what kind of society we can create coming out of COVID.”

People enjoying an outdoor pint on Dame Court in Dublin City today People enjoying an outdoor pint on Dame Court in Dublin City today, 14-05-2021. Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews

He noted that people meet up in the area at all times of day.

“There are friends of mine who go out there and play chess at weekends,” he said.

“There are families that meet up who are paying €1,500 for overcrowded flats in Rathmines that have nowhere to go.

“This is space that they use and this draconian measure, to fence off public space, makes no practical sense.

“When you look at the outdoor transmission rates of COVID, one in 1,000 cases linked to outdoor transmission – outdoors it is the place to be. Otherwise, they’ll be indoors with house parties going on.”

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'Draconian' Portobello square shut down will just drive people to other areas

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