Dublin City Council debated whether to let masked participant address forum

Artist collective asked that member wore mask during Dublin event

A member of the graffiti collective Subset works on a mural in Smithfield, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

A member of the graffiti collective Subset works on a mural in Smithfield, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

 

Officials from Dublin City Council met to decide whether to allow a masked man deliver an address to a council forum on street art at the Mansion House last autumn.

The council last October hosted the Street Art Forum with the purpose to explore ways to “enhance opportunities for street art within a regulatory framework”.

“The context for the forum was the increasing demand for and interest in this art form along with the need to address the sometimes difficult issues emerging for those involved including planning, commercial content and the lack of available walls to use,” the council said.

The participants at the sold-out event in the Oak Room of the Mansion House included street artists, representatives of Dublin City Council (Arts Office, planners, Dublin City councillors), property owners and other interested parties.

Members of the public look at a mural of US President Donald Trump in Dublin city centre by the artist group Subset. File photograph: Niall Carson/PA
Members of the public look at a mural of US President Donald Trump in Dublin city centre by the artist group Subset. File photograph: Niall Carson/PA

A question tabled at a recent Dublin City Council area committee meeting asked whether individuals who attended the seminar “wore balaclavas and covered their faces up and made derogatory statements about Dublin City Council”.

In response, council management said the Subset street art collective was asked to make a presentation at the Street Art Forum “and they in turn requested that their speaker be allowed to cover their face to protect their anonymity. The issue of anonymity is important to street artists with many world famous street artists such as Banksy or Maser keeping their identity private.

“An internal debate by the organisers of the forum decided after careful consideration that the ‘masking’ of the speaker be allowed on the basis of inclusion but that if objections to the mask were raised by participants it would be addressed and consensus sought.

“On the day no objections occurred. The speaker from Subset wore a mask while presenting and in participation the break out groups.”

On the question of whether derogatory statements about the council were made by participants at the forum, council management said: “This was a successful forum because of the robust and honest involvement of all concerned. Certainly Dublin City Council came in for criticism but it would not have been more difficult than normally experienced by City Officials at various meetings where feedback is requested.”