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Gardai blast Papal visit volunteers who 'didn't show up'

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Pope Francis waves to worshippers during his visit

Pope Francis waves to worshippers during his visit

Pope Francis waves to worshippers during his visit

Volunteers for the papal visit have been criticised by gardai for "not turning up" - and they claimed that some of those who did were more interested in seeing the Pope than carrying out their duties.

Gardai also suggested that a cap should be introduced on the capacity of single-venue events in future, believing the scale of the papal mass was too big for the city.

The capacity concern raised by gardai was also endorsed by an official from the Department of An Taoiseach during a second debriefing meeting in October on the event.

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Crowds for the ass in Phoenix Park

Crowds for the ass in Phoenix Park

Crowds for the ass in Phoenix Park

Also among those in attendance at the debrief were representatives from the World Meeting of Families (WMOF), Dublin City Council, the Office of Public Works (OPW), the National Transport Authority (NTA), Dublin Fire Brigade, the HSE and the Civil Defence.

Gardai described volunteer stewards as a "significant issue" on the day and said there was "too much trust and reliance on them".

"Only a small percentage of the planned volunteers turned up for duty on the day," gardai said.

"Of those that did, a large number appeared to be more interested in the event proceedings within the site than carrying out working capacity duties.

"Some volunteers set a bad example by rushing toward barriers within the mass site for viewpoints of the Pope tour. Late-arriving patrons in turn also did the same."

The planning timeframe for putting the event together was also described as "not ideal".

The notes also record gardai as saying: "Plans were put in place to cater for an audience of up to 500,000.

"On reflection, it raises reservations as to whether any one site in the city should host an event of that scale.

"It is considered that a cap should be considered for future events in the city."

The HSE said that volunteers for medical duties "performed exemplarily" and all staff turned up.

However, it did say that some of its volunteers were not treated well "in terms of feeding them and required shelters".

"Events of this nature are dependent on volunteers for medical side. They need to be looked after and treated well," the HSE added.

Anticipated

A representative from the NTA said it would like to see a "plan B" in place for public transport if the event numbers are significantly lower than had been anticipated - so those attending have less distance to walk. The implementation of something like this was considered to be difficult, as organisers did not know of the significantly lower numbers until the day of the event.

Meanwhile, there was high praise for the weekend's events from the Vatican, according to WMOF organisers.

"The spirit, co-operation, efficiency and flexibility shown was exemplary," it said.

"It showed Ireland as a very welcoming host and was felt by some that this was one of the best World Meeting of Families events ever."

They also said that "although this event was successful" the mass did not achieve full capacity.

Around 150,000 of the expected 500,000 turned up for the event.

This was previously blamed on bad weather and "RTE's comprehensive coverage" of the visit, leading to people deciding to follow the events from the comfort of their home instead of making the pilgrimage.

Organisers also said that a number of tickets were not taken up for the Croke Park concert on August 25.

Around 55,000 were in attendance, though this was some 15,000 fewer than had been anticipated.


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