Dublin a 'safe and welcoming' city despite gangland killings
Visitors should not be afraid to visit the capital on St Patrick's Day, said Tourism Minister Paschal Donohoe, who insisted Dublin is a "safe city".
In an attempt to reassure overseas visitors planning to stay in Ireland during the celebrations, he stressed that recent events should not be allowed to tarnish the city's image.
"Despite the awful murders that did take place in our city across a number of days, Dublin is a safe city, a vibrant city, and if you want the best opportunity to sample all that our city has to offer, it's across the days of St Patrick's Festival," he said.
David Byrne (34) was shot dead at the popular Regency Hotel in Drumcondra on February 5, while Eddie Hutch Sr (58) was murdered by gunmen at his North Strand home shortly before 8pm the following Monday. Their deaths made headlines worldwide.
Mr Donohoe said St Patrick's Day brings a mass influx of tourists into Dublin every year, which provides the city with a massive financial boost.
The festival will celebrate its 21st birthday next month.
Highlights of the five-day event, which showcases Irish culture and talents worldwide, include music, open mic storytelling, the Festival Céilí and an alternative, teen-friendly tour of Dublin.
"This event is hugely important for Dublin and for Ireland. For our country alone, it brings in 100,000 international visitors, and it's worth over €70m in revenue to the city of Dublin," the minister said. Mr Donohoe claimed the decision of Luas drivers to strike on St Patrick's Day is designed to cause as much disruption as possible.
"Everybody is now losing as a result of this, Dublin is losing and potentially the St Patrick's Festival is losing out," he added.