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Emer Moreau
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Dublin's Stephen's Green closes early as Gardaí respond to large crowds

There were large crowds of people in the park and on Grafton Street this evening.

ST STEPHEN’S GREEN in Dublin closed an hour early this evening due to large gatherings of people in the park.

The crowds were mostly comprised of teenagers and young adults. Groups of people also gathered on Grafton Street and surrounding areas.

Crowds were directed to leave Stephen’s Green, resulting in large numbers of people moving away from the park and down Grafton Street.

Some converged outside the Stephen’s Green gate opposite the top of Grafton Street.

Gardaí were called in to respond to underage drinking in the park.

Video footage shared on Twitter earlier today also shows two young people pulling down fencing erected around a bandstand by the Office of Public Works (OPW) yesterday.

The two people are seen cheering before about a dozen more people run into the bandstand. Many more people can be seen gathered in the bandstand in other videos circulating.

The historic bandstand was closed off yesterday to prevent damage, the OPW said.

Fencing was put up to prevent people going in.

In a statement to The Journal, a spokesperson for the Gardaí said: “As part of ongoing patrols in public spaces, Gardaí attended the scene of an incident that occurred at approximately 5:25pm on Thursday, 3rd June, 2021, at Saint Stephen’s Green Park.

“It’s alleged that a number of persons had removed the fencing to a protected structure in the area,” the spokesperson said. “When Gardaí arrived at the scene, the persons present dispersed. No arrests have been made at this time and investigations are ongoing.

“Separately, the Office of Public Works (OPW) made the decision to close Saint Stephen’s Green Park.

“The COVID-19 Pandemic remains a public health crisis and An Garda Síochána continues to appeal to all citizens to demonstrate personal and social responsibility to comply with Public Health Guidelines and Regulations, in order to continue to save lives.”

Stephen’s Green usually closes at 9pm at this time of year.

Labour councillor for the South East Inner City Kevin Donoghue told The Journal: “I was disappointed to see the fencing going up in the first place, to be honest. I think what we need is more space and more services.

“There’s a tone being set in terms of closing spaces off… I think we’re moving away from that now and I think we’ll hopefully see less of that,” he said. 

“If we’re calling for an outdoor summer and for people to socialise outside, our job as councillors is to create more space and more services to use, not less.”

The gardaí and OPW have been contacted for comment.

Donoghue said there was a disconnect between the elected councillors’ wishes for how to create an outdoor summer, and those of unelected decision makers.

The past week has seen widespread debate about how bodies such as OPW or Dublin City Council (DCC) should facilitate – or curb – large gatherings of people outdoors.

DCC has been criticised for failing to provide enough bins and toilets, which resulted in high levels of litter around the city centre last weekend.

Yesterday, Dublin’s Lord Mayor Hazel Chu said that more bins and toilets, along with staff to maintain them, would be provided this weekend.

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