Minister criticises ‘reckless’ behaviour in St Stephen’s Green bandstand

Youngsters breached barriers to dance in protected Victorian-era structure

The OPW erected fencing around the bandstand earlier this week to assess the structure following incidents of “anti-social behaviour in this location over the previous days”. Photograph: Jack Power

The OPW erected fencing around the bandstand earlier this week to assess the structure following incidents of “anti-social behaviour in this location over the previous days”. Photograph: Jack Power

 

The forced entry to the historic bandstand in Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green has been condemned as “reckless” and damaging by Minister of State for the Office of Public Works (OPW) Patrick O’Donovan.

A large group of young people on Thursday evening broke through security barriers erected to protect the 19th century bandstand from vandalism. Several people climbed up onto the rafters of the bandstand, while a large speaker played music to a tightly packed crowd of people dancing, with no social distancing in place, and few people wearing face masks.

At around 7.30pm gardaí arrived at the scene, at which point the group cleared the area, leaving a considerable amount of litter afterwards.

The OPW had erected the fencing just two days earlier in order to assess the fragile historic structure following incidents of “reckless anti-social behaviour in this location over the previous days” it said.

Mr O’Donovan said he understood people were “eager to enjoy the outdoors” but said: “this is no excuse for damaging historic structures and displaying reckless behaviour as we have witnessed yesterday and in the past days at the bandstand in St Stephen’s Green. Covid-19 is still circulating in the community and to protect the progress we have made, basic health measures still apply outdoors, including avoiding crowds and keeping your distance.”

The Victorian bandstand, constructed in 1887, is ordinarily not accessible to the public, due to its fragile nature, the OPW said. “This had not caused issues previously, as the public respected the small gate at the bandstand and its specific purpose for music performances and readings organised in summer time.”

However, over the past week groups have been “crowding in, oblivious to public health guidelines and social distancing, and posing a risk to themselves and others by climbing the slender steel supports that hold the bandstand’s roof,” it said.

“To prevent accidents and to assess the bandstand’s structural integrity, the OPW took the decision to fence off the historic bandstand. It should be noted that the area that was closed off represents approximately 0.05 per cent of the park’s 22 acres, all of which continue to remain open to the public for recreational purposes.”

After gardaí cleared the scene on Thursday evening contractors reinstalled the fencing and were on site on Friday to ensure the barriers were securely fastened, the OPW said.

“We want visitors to enjoy the beautiful surrounds of the park this weekend, but we appeal to the public to respect this important heritage site and its historic features, to be mindful of other visitors in the park and to respect our OPW staff,” Mr O’Donovan said. “The Green is an oasis in the city centre and I would ask you to help us keep it that way so everybody can enjoy it.”