Thursday 21 February 2019

Protest held at arts centre as repeal mural removed

Director Cian O’Brien covers the mural by Maser
Director Cian O’Brien covers the mural by Maser

Campaigners protested at the covering of a Repeal the Eighth mural on the side of Dublin's Project Arts Centre.

The heart-shaped red and white design, created by artist Maser, had adorned the wall of the centre since April 9.

Last week, the Charities Regulator told artistic director Cian O'Brien that it constituted "political activity" and was in breach of the Charities Act.


Mr O'Brien yesterday painted over the mural as a crowd chanted: "You can paint over a mural but you can't paint over an issue."

"We are feeling disappointed because the project has a 52-year history of presenting works like this," he said. "We present work that encourages debate, that engages in political and social issues through art."

Mr O'Brien and Andrea Horan, of the HunReal Issues group behind the mural, pointed out that the covering up of it had caused more conversation about it.

"I feel raging but also delighted that a light is being shone on issues like this," Ms Horan said.

Mr O'Brien added: "Through its absence, this artwork lives on as they take this heart into their heart."

Dubliner Sinead Wright (31), one of the protesters, said: "It is sad. The arts should represent the political climate we live in."

Another, Kitty Maguire, expressed surprise that graphic posters regarding the referendum were allowed to be posted in prominent places but the mural wasn't.

Maser the artist of the Repeal mural with Karen Dempsey
Maser the artist of the Repeal mural with Karen Dempsey

"This is just a love heart," she said.

In a statement, the Charities Regulator said: "By publicly displaying a political advertisement related to the Eighth Amendment referendum on the charity's premises, they are engaging in political activity that is not directly related to the advancement of the charity's charitable purpose, which is the advancement of education."


Cora Sherlock, of the LoveBoth pro-life campaign, insisted that the artwork would have been balanced if there had been a pro-life mural of the same scale on the adjoining wall.

"Despite our repeated requests for equal access to space in the Project Arts Centre, we have received no access," she said.

Project confirmed that it had received a request for access and the campaign had been invited to submit a proposal, but the centre had not received one.

It is the second time a mural by Maser has had to be painted over on the site as another was removed in 2016 for falling foul of Temple Bar planning codes.

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