Homecoming celebration controversy: how it developed
BACKGROUND:TOMORROW, THOUSANDS will gather in Dublin city centre to cheer on Team Ireland after its most successful Olympics in almost 60 years.
The triumphant performances of our medal winners lifted the spirit of the nation at a time of almost relentless negativity. But somehow, even before the team had arrived home, plans for a homecoming celebration had unravelled amid an unseemly row over poor planning and miscommunication.
Newspaper headlines screamed about a “homecoming shambles” and a “planning fiasco”. In the process, Katie Taylor’s family were drawn into a spat with the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) over who was responsible for pulling the plug on a homecoming event in Dublin city centre.
In the end, following last-minute discussions, a celebration has been planned for the capital and is due to take place tomorrow. But the contrast between the smoothly organised Olympics in London – featuring almost 15,000 athletes and two million spectators – and a hastily organised celebration in Dublin was painfully evident.
But who knew what and when? Was the homecoming organisation really a shambles? Or was it simply a minor controversy over miscommunication that was stoked up by a news-hungry media?
Friday, July 27th
The opening ceremony of the Olympics gets under way. Plans are in place for a homecoming event at Dublin airport on Monday, August 13th, for the media and athletes’ family members only. No public homecoming celebration in Dublin is planned.
Thursday, August 2nd
As Irish boxers progress through the competition, the OCI contacts Dublin City Council about whether it would be possible to have a homecoming event, according to a council spokesman.
“We would only ever organise something if we are asked by a sporting governing body,” the spokesman says. “It’s the same with a homecoming celebration for the Irish rugby team or the Dublin footballers. When we are contacted, we are happy to facilitate it.”
Tuesday, August 7th
Following the bank holiday, Dublin City Council tells the OCI that a homecoming celebration can go ahead and draws up plans for a reception at the Mansion House on Monday, August 13th, followed by a public gathering on Dawson Street.
The council asks the OCI if any of its sponsors would be interested in contributing to the cost of organising the event.
“Given the economic circumstances, we thought it could be a win-win situation for everyone, but this was declined, and we respected that,” a spokesman says.
The OCI was unavailable for comment on this point yesterday.
The council contacts Minister of State for Sport Michael Ring regarding the plans. He agrees to jointly fund a celebration.