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Leinster House postpones turning on its Christmas lights after homeless man's death

The Ceann Comhairle said tonight’s planned event would be ‘inappropriate’.

Flowers left for Jonathan Corrie in the doorway in which he passed away yesterday.
Flowers left for Jonathan Corrie in the doorway in which he passed away yesterday.
Image: Leah Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Updated 5.20pm 

THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS will not be turned on at Leinster House this evening as planned as a mark of respect to Jonathan Corrie, the man who died on Molesworth Street yesterday.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett made the decision, explaining that it would be “inappropriate in light of the tragic death” close to the Oireachtas buildings yesterday.

Traditionally a lighthearted ceremony involving the Ceann Comhairle, the leaders of the main political parties and a choir signing carols takes place at the back of Leinster House on the Merrion Street side.

Oireachtas authorities had already erected a white marquee beside the large Christmas Tree in anticipation of this evening’s ceremony which was to take place at 5.15pm.

A candlelit ceremony will take place on Kildare Street this evening in memory of the deceased. It’s due to get under way at 5.30pm. 

The turning on of the lights will now take place next week.

Jonathan Corrie’s body was discovered by a passerby on Monday morning. Sophie Pigot said she went to him to check if he was okay but he didn’t answer her.

“Then he just looked so unbelievably uncomfortable in the position he was lying and then I touched his back and said ‘Sir are you okay?’ and got no response.”

The young woman spoke about her shock and sadness to a number of radio programmes today, we well as posting about it on her own Facebook page.

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Her sentiments were mirrored by many across the country, including a number of TDs in both government and on the opposition benches.

Minister for Environment Alan Kelly has convened a special forum on homelessness this Thursday in the wake of the tragedy.

This afternoon’s statement about the Christmas ceremony from the House of the Oireachtas is below.

The turning on of the Oireachtas Christmas Tree lights, scheduled for this evening (Tuesday 2 December 2014) at 5:15 pm, has been postponed. The decision was taken by the Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil Sean Barrett TD who felt it would be inappropriate in light of the tragic death of Jonathan Corrie yesterday close to Leinster House, and the candelit ceremony scheduled for this evening.

- additional reporting from Hugh O’Connell

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