DCC CEO defends closure of Portobello Plaza, describes situation in recent weekends as "a shambles" 5 months ago

DCC CEO defends closure of Portobello Plaza, describes situation in recent weekends as "a shambles"

Owen Keegan said there have been huge problems with noise, urination and defecation in Portobello in recent weekends.

Chief Executive of Dublin City Council (DCC) Owen Keegan has said the council was left with “no choice” but to close off Portobello Plaza this weekend due to anti-social behaviour in the area over recent weekends.

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Dublin City Council announced on Friday morning that the plaza would be closed from Friday afternoon until Monday morning due to what was described as “completely unacceptable” behaviour from crowds of up to 1,000 people that had gathered there in recent weekends.

The decision generated much reaction on Friday morning, but speaking to Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio One, Keegan said that the decision was taken with residents of the area in mind, saying that what they have had to suffer is “really intolerable”.

Keegan described events at Portobello Plaza on recent weekends as “a shambles” and pointed to huge problems with noise, urination and defecation in the area, issues which have led to a “huge volume of complaints” from local residents, whom he said “have had enough”.

The DCC CEO also pointed to what he described as the “significant disconnect” between public health guidelines and messaging, highlighting what he said was a “huge growth” in outdoor public consumption of alcohol in recent weeks despite the fact that outdoor dining isn’t permitted until 7 June.

Keegan said that he suspected that events in Portobello Plaza in recent weekends will become less of an issue when restrictions are lifted and that the situation will be reviewed next Monday (17 May).

As well as physical barriers in the area, there will be an increased Garda presence at Portobello this weekend to enforce the closure and anyone caught consuming alcohol outdoors in a public space may be fined.

Only last month, Dublin City Council launched the Portobello Matters campaign in a bid to stop people from drinking outdoors in the area on the back of numerous complaints from residents.

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“In recent months due to Covid-19 we have seen an increase in usage of our outdoor spaces," Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu said at the launch.

“The canal area has been a popular and valued amenity for all. Unfortunately there has been an increase in anti-social behaviour in the area”

“These behaviours include people leaving their rubbish behind and people frequently urinating and even defecating outside someone’s home. We want everyone to be able to enjoy the space but the above behaviours are simply not ok. Please help support the local community by being respectful.”