Dublin councillor Mannix Flynn says it's unfair to demonise young people for large social gatherings in the city - saying the city council now needs to take responsibility for managing outdoor socialising.
Photos and videos showed large crowds gathered in the capital on Saturday evening, in particular around the South William Street area.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said he was "absolutely shocked" by the gatherings in the capital - comparing it to a “major open-air party”.
A major clean-up operation took place in Dublin yesterday, with images showing large amounts of rubbish left behind after the crowd was dispersed by gardaí.
Large crowds also reportedly gathered in parts of Cork and Galway over the weekend.
While a number of politicians expressed disappointment at the scenes, others said it showed the urgent need for more outdoor public spaces and amenities to allow people to socialise safely.
'These gatherings are not planned events and as such DCC had very little powers to deal with them'.
Powers available to DCC...
- Give sufficient car free space
- Adequate no. of bins
- Access to toilets
- Increased waste collection
- Increased policing
- Signage/communication https://t.co/QTC5bpTlSE
— Neasa Hourigan TD (@neasa_neasa) May 30, 2021
Dublin City Council, meanwhile, claimed it had “very few powers” to deal with such unplanned gatherings.
However, independent councillor Mannix Flynn told Newstalk Breakfast city authorities must take responsibility.
He argued: “It’s important to remember what happened on the streets of Dublin over the weekend wasn’t illegal. It was mismanaged.
“You have a pedestrianised zone in Dublin city, created by Dublin City Council. Then they walked away and didn’t manage it.
“Very quickly it became besotten with alcohol… then it became more and more boisterous.”
“Let’s not demonise the young people - let's manage this proper and right.
“Even the Taoiseach and Tánaiste have been talking about going out and drinking pints, and the great outdoor dining experience. What did they expect?”
There has been some criticism recently of the council’s decision to close off the Portobello Plaza area during weekends, amid concerns over crowds gatherings.
However, Mannix Flynn thinks that measure has worked "in general" - and it’s a lack of management that has seen crowds continue to gather along other canal-side areas.
He said: “I think the issue is clear - there is no management.
“We’re not asking [the council] to police the city - we’re asking them to manage the city, before the police come in. Policing comes after when there’s no management.”