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Sunday 17 December 2017

Officials do U-turn over plans to close polling station for One Direction concert

One Direction will play three nights at Croke Park
One Direction will play three nights at Croke Park

Niall O'Connor, Political Correspondent

DUBLIN City authorities have abandoned plans to close a popular polling station on the same day as a One Direction concert.

Residents living close to Croke Park expressed anger last month after they were told that they would not be able to vote in their regular station because of restrictions in the area.

One Direction, which includes Mullingar native Niall Horan, are due to play three nights at Croke Park beginning May 23 – the same day as the local and European elections.

European Elections agent and City Sheriff James P Barry had last month warned that the polling station in O'Connell School on Richmond Street would have to be shut in order to accommodate the concert.

The move was initially agreed in the interests of public safety, however, the Irish Independent has learned that gardai have now agreed to allow the polling station for the North Inner City constituency to remain open.

Mr Barry said last night that the cordon around the school would be moved on the day in question in order to accommodate 2,200 registered voters.

"I've been given assurances that it is now safe for us to proceed with opening the O'Connell School. It's a welcome development and it means there are no losers," he added.

Labour MEP Emer Costello, who raised the issue with the city authorities, said residents would have been very upset if the initial plans had been implemented.

"There are elderly people in the area and it's very important that they can get to their polling station," she told the Irish Independent.

However, Ms Costello said there was still "serious anger" within the community over the handling of the upcoming Garth Brooks concerts in July.

As revealed by this newspaper, the country's top troubleshooter Kieran Mulvey has been drafted in to lead a mediation process between Croke Park management and residents. Some local groups have maintained they will initiate legal proceedings to stop the concerts because of concerns about the handing out of licences.

Ms Costello said: "The manner in which these licences have been handed out, with little concern for the local residents, is simply not acceptable."

Irish Independent

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