Unholy row as military told 'no room for baby Jesus'
Published 10/12/2011 | 05:00
THERE'S no room at the inn for baby Jesus at the headquarters of the Defence HQ this Christmas.
His traditional welcome from the military and civil servants has been banished to the past.
The Christmas crib has been a permanent feature for years inside the front door of the former HQ of the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces at Parkgate in central Dublin during the festive season.
But permission for the crib to move with the military top brass and the senior civilians to their spanking new building at Station Road in Newbridge, Co Kildare, has been denied.
The refusal has sparked off an unholy row, particularly among the older staff in both sections, with many mystified by the decision.
It is understood that an application to erect the crib in Station Road was made to by the head chaplain of the Defence Forces, Monsignor Eoin Thynne.
But it was turned down by senior civil servants and the crib remains in storage in Dublin.
The official explanation is that the decision was based on "housekeeping" grounds rather than policy reasons.
The decision was taken by staff responsible for day to day maintenance of the building, including decorations and renovations.
The department said that there had been no crib last year when the staff transferred there and the position remained the same this year.
However, senior figures said the crib was not moved from Dublin to Newbridge last Christmas because of the adverse weather conditions, caused by heavy snowfalls.
Defence Minister Alan Shatter was not made aware of the "housekeeping" decision.
But one senior figure said last night : "The crib was a welcoming sight for a couple of weeks when you entered the old building in Parkgate and everybody seemed to enjoy its presence.
"In contrast to the historic surroundings that were enjoyed there, the new headquarters are situated in a pretty drab, featureless building that could benefit from a Christmas touch".