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David Attenborough

Council orders removal of second Subset mural in Dublin

A mural of David Attenborough is the second mural by the artist collective to have fallen foul of the council in recent weeks.

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL has ordered that a mural of David Attenborough on the side of a property in south Dublin should be removed.

The mural, based on Longwood Avenue in Portobello, was painted by the artist collective SUBSET earlier this year and unveiled on the BBC documentary maker and climate activist’s 93rd birthday.

In a letter issued by Dublin City Council’s planning enforcement office in May and seen by, the mural is described as an “unauthorised development”.

The letter states that the mural was, at the time, under investigation by the council, who alleged that it was painted without planning permission and may be subject to an enforcement order under the Planning and Development Acts.

It is understood that the owner of the property where the mural is located has no objection to it being there.

A spokesperson for Dublin City Council confirmed that an enforcement notice has since been issued by the local authority seeking the removal of the mural.

In a statement, a spokeswoman said the council was seeking “the permanent removal of the unauthorised painted mural” where the piece is based, and that no further murals or art should be painted on the wall.

Green Party councillor Claire Byrne, who represents the area where the mural is located and sits on the council’s Arts, Culture and Recreation committee, described the local authority’s decision as “a shame”.

“There’s been some mixed reaction to the mural locally, but it’s not advertising anything,” she said.

“We have a real graffiti problem in the area, and I think the mural has actually helped with that, particularly on the wall of the house where it’s based.” 

Although the council did not provide a reason for seeking the removal of the mural when asked, the property it is painted on has an address on the South Circular Road and is a protected structure.

The mural is the second piece by SUBSET to have fallen foul of the council’s planning department in recent weeks.

Last month, a case involving the group’s ‘Horseboy’ mural in Smithfield was referred to An Bord Pleanála after the council ruled that it needed planning permission to remain on a property on Church Street.

More than 5,000 people have since signed a petition calling for that mural to be saved.

Other artworks by SUBSET have previously been the subject of enforcement orders by Dublin City Council, notably the Stormzy mural in late 2017.

On that occasion, the group launched a visual protest and criticised the council for their decision at the time.

They claimed that the move contradicted the local authority’s cultural strategy, in particular its aim to support opportunities for citizens to engage in inclusive and diverse cultural experiences.

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