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'Scrooge-like' council 'having a laugh' over Christmas lights

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Grafton Street festive lights

Grafton Street festive lights

Grafton Street festive lights

Dublin City Council has been accused of being "Scrooge-like" after cancelling the traditional Christmas lights ceremony.

The authority has cited health and safety concerns for its decision, because of the large number of people who attend the event.

However, TDs and senators rounded on the authority at an Oireachtas committee meeting, after a member of the public petitioned the council to have the ceremony reinstated.

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 being a bit Scrooge-like," Mr Buttimer added.

Tradition

Fianna Fail TD Eugene Murphy said the lights switch-on was a "huge occasion" for young people and urged the council to have a "change of heart".

On November 2, the committee received correspondence from Darryl O'Callaghan asking it 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 that there had been an 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.

Labour Party TD Brendan Ryan accused the council of giving "no serious consideration" to Mr O'Callaghan's request.

Mr Ryan said the response from Dublin City Council was a "box-ticking" exercise.

As an alternative to the traditional lights event, the council has introduced an initiative called Winter Lights Dublin City, which involves 12 different sites in the capital being lit up for 30 days.

However, 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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