Sheer bliss for 'delighted' Panti as Dublin bar sign is here to stay
Rory O'Neill, aka Panti Bliss, said he's "absolutely delighted" that after fighting "tooth and acrylic nail", his bar sign is here to stay.
The distinctive pink sign for Pantibar on Capel Street has been at the centre of controversy for more than a year after Dublin City Council directed its removal as it contravened planning regulations.
But the gay rights campaigner appealed this decision to An Bord Pleanala (ABP) and was over the moon yesterday when the body overturned DCC's original decision.
"I think it's unfortunate that we had to go through that process in the first place but I'm glad it's done and they ruled in our favour. I'm not going to be a sore winner," he told the Herald.
"Getting the letter was a great start to the day. We made our appeal at the beginning of the summer and we knew we would have to wait until October for a decision, so I've been biting my nails ever since.
"People have been asking for updates but I always knew it was going to come in around now. It's great news.
"I believe the sign is safe and it's here to stay. I honestly believe the sign is beautiful and has significance to people," he said.
The controversy over the brightly-lit sign was sparked after three complaints to DCC which then investigated whether it contravened regulations.
It then directed the sign's removal from the city centre street bar earlier this year on the basis that it was located in an "architectural conservation area".
It also claimed "its use of inappropriate materials and lighting would impact adversely on the character and integrity of the area".
However, ABP disagreed with the council's decision and ruled that "exceptional circumstances" applied, saying the sign was "integral to the social, historical and cultural significance of the current use of the premises".
The sign was designed by Niall Sweeney, an award-winning artist, and has hung outside Rory's popular bar for the past two years.
He said that tourists regularly pose for pictures underneath the sign and the venue has also taken on a social significance to Dubliners, given the same-sex marriage referendum last year.
He was inundated with support from members of the public after setting up a petition, which attracted more than 20,000 signatures, in favour of keeping the sign.