Large group get into fenced off Stephen’s Green bandstand

Councils get €4m to fund facilities for public gatherings including toilets and bins

A large group of mostly young people gained entry to the Victorian bandstand in Stephen’s Green which had been fenced off to protect it from vandalism and antisocial behaviour. Photograph: Jack Power

A large group of mostly young people gained entry to the Victorian bandstand in Stephen’s Green which had been fenced off to protect it from vandalism and antisocial behaviour. Photograph: Jack Power

 

A large group of young people gained entry to the St Stephen’s Green bandstand on Thursday evening, to dance and play music, after removing barriers put in place to protect the old structure.

Several people climbed up onto the rafters of the bandstand, while a large speaker played music to a tightly packed crowd of people dancing.

The fine weather brought large numbers of people into the city centre park on Thursday evening.

At some point after around 6pm metal barriers around the bandstand were removed. And a large group of mostly young people gained entry and began to dance to music, 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.

In recent days the Office of Public Works erected a fence around the Victorian bandstand in St Stephen’s Green to protect it from vandalism and antisocial behaviour.

“The OPW is liaising with An Garda Síochána in relation to the policing of St Stephen’s Green on an ongoing basis and will respond to any incidents should they arise,” it said.

Meanwhile, the Government has released €4 million in funding to allow local councils to put bins and portable toilets in public areas from this bank holiday weekend.

Minister of State at the Department of Housing Peter Burke said that the funding is being allotted to all 31 local authorities to assist them provide portaloos and bins throughout the country.

The new funding comes on top of a €5 million fund recently announced by Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan to increase the number of bins and facilities in public areas.

Mr Burke said the scheme would be very flexible and would also include other infrastructure such as signage, fencing and maintenance works.

He said the sites involved included open spaces in cities (which have been thronged by large crowds in recent days), greenways, beaches, parks and other public areas.

He said €500,000 was being allotted to Dublin City Council, €200,000 to Cork, €100,000 to Galway, and a minimum of €50,0000 for all local authorities.

“The key message is to abide by public health guidelines,” he said. “Outdoors are much safer than indoors but we need to be responsible. Ninety per cent of people 90 per cent of the time have been responsible,” he said.

The Fine Gael TD for Longford-Westmeath said the measures would be needed throughout the summer and into the autumn but he said the easing of restrictions for outdoor dining and, later, for indoor dining and drinking, would ease the pressure in relation to this phenomenon.

He denied there was any conflict between central Government and local authorities, some of whom have closed off areas.

He said that he had spoken to the chief executives of local authorities and all were supportive of the scheme.

“I don’t think there are mixed messages,” he said. “The very clear premise is that outdoors is safer than indoors. If we all try to do what we are doing in terms of keeping up our responsibilities, I think we can do that safely. That gives us the best chance of having the best possible summer.”

Asked if the money was available immediately, Mr Burke said it was, and the message to councils from him was that their cash flows were now good. He said local authorities had already delivered hundreds of extra bins and portaloos which would be in place tonight, including in Dublin.

Fianna Fáil Senator Malcolm Byrne, meanwhile, has advocated the use of outdoor urinals, as used in continental countries. “I’m very much in favour of local authorities using pissoirs [commonly used in France and the Benelux countries]. They can be portable and can stop a lot of the problems of public urination. They make sense for urban areas/beaches – wherever there are crowds,” he said.