Crowd safety fears bring lights parade to premature halt
Gardaí had to stop one of two festive Christmas parades from converging in Dublin city centre amid safety fears after huge crowds had flooded the area.
Dublin Lord Mayor Micheál Mac Donncha, who officially switched on the Christmas lights in the city, remarked that there was "a lot of discontent among the people" that one of the processions had not been allowed into O'Connell Street.
A procession from St Stephen's Green was prevented by gardaí from crossing O'Connell Bridge for crowd safety reasons.
Another parade began in Mary Street and entered O'Connell Street from the north end of the thoroughfare.
The planned destination of both parades was a 40ft Christmas tree on O'Connell Street at the junction of North Earl Street.
Many in the crowds spoke admiringly of the glittering spectacle.
"I heard that 30,000 to 40,000 people came to the event tonight," said the Lord Mayor, expressing disappointment that spectators on O'Connell Street standing between the bridge and the GPO were prevented from seeing the south side parade pass by.
"I will be talking to the officials about this tomorrow. There was a lot of discontent among the people there at that," he said.
"The organisation needs to be looked at."
A spokesman for organisers Dublin Town said: "We are genuinely surprised by the Lord Mayor's comments.
"There was always a provision in the plan that if it was ever felt there were too many people that the procession wouldn't proceed. The (southside) procession went the entire way around the route except for the last 100 metres.
"The decision for one procession not to come across O'Connell Bridge was made by gardaí who felt there was already enough people in O'Connell Street. For all, public safety is priority number one."