Friday 13 December 2019

'Security review' at City Hall after chamber stormed

Green Party councillor Claire Byrne raised safety concerns
Green Party councillor Claire Byrne raised safety concerns

Dublin City Council is reviewing security measures regarding members of the public attending meetings at City Hall after a number of protesters stormed the chamber two weeks ago.

Demonstrators entered the chamber and disrupted proceedings after a vote was passed on the controversial O'Devaney Gardens housing development.

The decision to review security has been commended by one council member who was concerned for the safety of politicians' young children who are now allowed inside the chamber when necessary.

In correspondence with council members, the Green Party's Claire Byrne said: "While it's a shame to have to introduce such measures, it's very much welcomed by those of us with small babies who are trying to continue their jobs as elected representatives.

"We fought hard last term to be allowed to bring babies to the chamber, and we should be allowed to do so without having to worry for their safety."

In response to queries from the Herald, the council said that "small changes" have been made ahead of last night's budget meeting relating to passes for members of the public.

The council chamber has a gallery that can cater for 20 members of the public.

"The access issue will be discussed at the Protocol Committee who may recommend other changes to council as some councillors have raised concerns," the statement said.

A council official emailed councillors about the changes to last night's meeting stating that they must email City Hall with the names of any guests, to which a pass will be supplied on a first-come-first-served basis.

However, these are temporary measures until a new security procedure is in place.

Bullied

Lord Mayor Paul McAuliffe said the council does not want to dissuade the public from attending, adding there was no issue with demonstrations outside City Hall.

"We don't want to stop people attending the gallery but equally the council has to be able to carry out our business without being bullied," he said.

"Ultimately it was three people that disrupted the meeting and if anything, it meant there was less time for debate rather than more.

"We need to review that to make sure that when people come, they need to respect the people of the city."

Independent councillor Mannix Flynn also backed the decision, saying: "It's disappointing that we have to go to these measures, but it's the sign of the times."

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