Monday 16 September 2019

Las Vegas-style neon sign lands Panti Bliss in hot water with city officials

Pantibar on Capel Street
Pantibar on Capel Street
Hollywood actress Amy Schumer poses with Panti Bliss, aka Rory O’Neill

Ireland's favourite drag queen has upset a number of people on Capel Street with a glitzy, neon-lit bar sign.

Panti Bliss, aka Rory O'Neill, has been issued with a warning by city planners over a glitzy illuminated sign that is attached to what has fast become one of the capital's favourite gay bars.

The offending sign for the popular Pantibar was erected with great fanfare in mid-March, with the drag artist posting pictures of workmen securing it to the building and images of the end result on social media.


However, the Herald can reveal that a warning letter was issued by Dublin City Council (DCC) at the end of March following complaints to the city's planning department suggesting that the sign contravened planning permission.

A spokesperson confirmed that a warning was issued under Section 152 of the Planning Act and that the matter was being "actively pursued".

When contacted by the Herald, Mr O'Neill declined to comment on the matter.

The performer will now have a chance to argue his case with city planners but, if DCC rules that it does breach the bar's planning permission, it is likely that it will have to be taken down.

The costs incurred by DCC, if an enforcement order is issued, may also have to be covered by the Irish gay community's icon.

A spokesperson for DCC refused to say how many people complained about the sign but said all complainants will be kept updated about the progress of their investigation.

It is likely to take more than a planning dispute to dampen the spirits of one of the country's unlikely national treasure, whose profile continues to rocket.

Just last week the New York Times profiled Mr O'Neill.

The prestigious paper chronicled Panti's rise from regular 'pub landlady' to national hero.


"She has become the symbol of a forward-looking Ireland which, in May, became the first country to enact same-sex marriage by popular vote," Liam Stack, who met with Mr O'Neill during his New York trip, commented.

Panti Bliss first rose to prominence following RTE's controversial decision to remove an archived interview with the entertainer from their website last January.

The national broadcaster also paid out some €85,000 in damages to six people, including journalist John Waters and the Iona Institute, over remarks made by Mr O'Neill during the course of an interview on The Saturday Night show.

Panti took to the stage in the iconic Abbey Theatre days later and delivered her Noble Call speech, catapulting her onto a global stage as an "accidental activist"- with fans such as Madonna.

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