Portobello Plaza to remain closed for next three weekends

Decision to restrict area after recent gatherings ‘wasn’t taken lightly’, says councillor

Portobello Plaza in Dublin’s south inner city will remain closed for the next three weekends.

Dublin City Council said the decision was taken following a meeting with local residents, public representatives and gardaí due to large crowds gathering and anti-social behaviour in recent weeks.

The plaza will close between Friday and Monday until June 11th “with the situation monitored on an ongoing basis”, the council said.

Large fences were erected around the area last weekend, with the council citing some behaviour at the site recently as “completely unacceptable”.

Fine Gael councillor James Geoghegan, who was at the meeting on Thursday, said he didn't support the move.

“I don’t think that’s a solution and I’m disappointed there hasn’t been in conjunction with this really short-term plan, which is just blocking off the plaza, it doesn’t seem to me that we have been presented with the medium term solution,” he told The Irish Times.

“On the one hand you have residents who are being really badly affected, including defecation on their doorstep, urination on their walls, the smell of hash when they open up their window but then on the other hand you have an awful lot of people who want to enjoy that public space in a responsible way.

“The balance definitely isn’t right by just locking off the square with horrible looking fences.”

Cllr Geoghegan said he believes there should be a consultation with local residents as to a longer-term solution, "because my fear would be that we just keep shutting off this area every weekend".

Independent councillor Mannix Flynn, who also attended the meeting, said he “absolutely” supported the temporary closure of the plaza.

“I think it’s really important that this respite happens. It’s a temporary measure which is only for the weekends in order to get a handle on what’s happening on the plaza itself.

“The canal remains open, people can move within the area. There is plenty of opportunity for amenity within the general area,” he said.

Cllr Flynn said the decision "wasn't taken lightly" and the situation will be reassessed as to how the plaza can be managed and reopened at weekends next month.

“It hasn’t just been the pandemic which has made the area a bit busier. This has been going on for a long time,” he said.

“It started first at the Barge end and then it moved its way up. Our job is to look after the health and safety of the local community and they have had a horrendous time . . . it’s not a draconian measure, it’s in keeping with protecting the community.

“There has also been a huge amount of damage done to wildlife along the Grand Canal.”