City chiefs defend use of City Hall for Sinn Fein military re-enactment
A SENIOR Dublin city official has admitted there were "elements of controversy" surrounding the decision to allow a military-style re-enactment to be held in City Hall.
Assistant City Manager Brendan Kenny said the Sinn Fein commemoration of the death of Fenian leader Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa proved divisive, but insisted the council is not considering changing the rules surrounding the use of its venues.
Sinn Fein organised a full scale re-enactment of the funeral earlier this month that involved dozens of participants dressed in military costume and carrying replica firearms.
The event was attended by senior Sinn Fein politicians, including party president Gerry Adams.
But the decision to allow the use of City Hall for a "military-style" event was criticised by Independent councillor Mannix Flynn, who said it reminded him of a "bad day in Belfast" and called on the city management to "wake up".
The South Inner City representative said city councillors were not informed about the style of the commemorations in advance.
"It was a militarised, unpleasant, hostile situation rather than something that is inclusive," said Mr Flynn.
"We had a situation where people in full military costume and carrying what looked like firearms were parading up and down the street before entering City Hall.
"It is absolutely inappropriate. I don't believe City Hall should ever be used in this manner."
Sinn Fein's leader on Dublin City Council, Seamus McGrattan, said the event was completely positive in nature.
"The commemoration of O'Donovan Rossa was a people's event led out by the Cabra Historical Society. Thousands of people participated in the march, with over 700 in period costume, and tens of thousands lined the route," he said.
It was the type of open, inclusive event that one would like to see across the country over the coming months, he added.
"Had Councillor Flynn attended the event, he would have seen that this was a positive people's event, one that very appropriately remembered the past and had been planned and agreed with Dublin City Council."
Mr Kenny said it was often "tricky" for the council when deciding which events to allow in premises such as City Hall.
"There was an element of controversy surrounding it, but we don't get caught up in the politics of these things," he said, adding that he does not believe new protocols will be needed.
Mr Kenny said all political parties are entitled to apply to use venues such as City Hall and the Mansion House.
Regarding the use of replica firearms, he said this is often the case with film companies.