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An Post has been given approval to hang advertising banners on the front of the GPO despite objections

An Post claimed visitor numbers to the GPO had almost halved in the past three years.

The Witness History exhibit has been running since 2016.
The Witness History exhibit has been running since 2016.
Image: Shutterstock/Ungor

AN POST HAS been granted permission to hang advertising banners on the outside of the GPO, sparking criticism from some who say it will undermine the character of the protected structure. 

An application was submitted to Dublin City Council in June to hang two large banners advertising the Witness History exhibit on the outside of the building in Dublin. 

It claimed numbers had dropped significantly since the exhibit – an interactive tour of the events of the 1916 rising – first opened to the public in 2016. 

In a report supporting the application, it said “visitor numbers to the exhibition have diminished after an initial peak and there is little indication of the existence of the exhibition externally”. 

The cost of establishing the attraction, funded by the State, came in at around €10 million but visitor numbers have consistently fallen from 160,000 when it first opened, to 100,000 in 2017, and down again to just under 88,000 last year. 

In granting permission to An Post, Dublin City Council said the banners could be installed for a period of two years instead of the requested three years, after which a new planning application would be required for them to remain.

GPO proposal An imagined image of the GPO with banners.

Other conditions state that the banners should be clear of “visible damage or decay” at all times, a conservation expert must be brought in to oversee the installation, and fixtures should be inspected regularly to preserve the integrity of the building.

‘Disrespectful’

The decision to grant permission to An Post has come under fire by individuals and organisations who say it takes away from the character of the historic building. 

Green Party councillor Donna Cooney submitted an objection to the application during the planning stages, and believes allowing An Post to install them is a poor decision on the part of Dublin City Council. 

“From what I can see they have just copied and pasted a number of conditions that you would put on any planning application, aside from having a conservation architect,” she said. 

“They haven’t really considered the iconic building that it is… you see Kilmainham Gaol is the second biggest tourist attraction after the Guinness Storehouse, so we know people are interested in history.

“They could bring in more artifacts, because a lot of it is multimedia, and they could be more genuine, so people could connect with what is there – and then connect that with the historical Quarter of Moore Street.

“It’s disrespectful to what the actual building is in terms of character and this takes away from the facade,” she added. 

Ian Lumley, heritage officer with An Taisce, which also submitted an objection to the proposal during planning stages, said it is considering lodging an appeal to An Bord Pleanála due to the length of time the signage will be displayed

“It’s one thing putting up banners for a commemorative event for a few months but this is two years, and then there’s an argument for extensions after that. 

“There are other short-term things which we don’t have an issue with but this would reflect an inappropriate, longer-term plan.” 

A spokesperson for An Post declined to comment when contacted by TheJournal.ie.

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