Sunday 22 September 2019

Dublin City Council accused of being 'scrooge like' as Christmas lights ceremony cancelled

Santa Claus takes part in a parade through Dublin to switch on one million festive lights erected by DublinTown and Dublin City Council. Photo: Leon Farrell
Santa Claus takes part in a parade through Dublin to switch on one million festive lights erected by DublinTown and Dublin City Council. Photo: Leon Farrell
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Dublin City Council has been accused by politicians of being “scrooge like” over the decision to cancel the traditional Christmas lights ceremony.

At an Oireachtas committee, TDs and senators rounded on the capital’s local authority over its response to a member of the public who was seeking to have the ceremony reinstated.

The council decided to forgo the traditional Christmas event this year citing health and safety concerns involved with the large number of people who attend.

Speaking at the Oireachtas Committee on Public Petitions, Fine Gael Senator Jerry Buttimer said the cancellation of the ceremony was “unprecedented” and he was “very disappointed” by the council’s decision.

“They are having a laugh at us and been a bit scrooge like,” Mr Buttimer added

Fianna Fail TD Eugene Murphy said the turning on of the lights in the capital was a “huge occasion” for young people and urged the council to have a “change of heart”.  

Labour Party TD Brendan Ryan accused the council of giving “no serious consideration” to the member of the public who petitioned the committee seeking a return of the ceremony.

Mr Ryan said the response from Dublin City Council was a “box ticking” exercise.

On November 2, the committee received correspondence from Darryl O’Callaghan asking them to discuss the Christmas lights event in Dublin.

“The Christmas lights have been a long held tradition in Dublin City and is loved by many,” Mr O’Callaghan wrote.

“There has been no crowd trouble in the past and we see no reason to envisage any trouble at this ceremony in the future. This ceremony has become part of Christmas for many people and it should stay that way for future generations,” he added.

The council responded by saying there have been issue managing large crowds who attended the event in recent years.

“Furthermore, the traditional location used for this ceremony would necessitate the closures of the Luas cross city service,” it added.

As an alternative, the council has introduced the ‘Winter Lights Dublin City’ initiative which involves 12 different sites in the capital being lit up for 30 days.

At the committee meeting, it was suggested representatives from the council should be asked to discuss their response at a future hearing. 

Mr Buttimer suggested the event could be moved from O’Connell Street to Smithfield where homecoming ceremonies are regularly held for the Dublin GAA football team.

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