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Court to decide over legality of three prominent Dublin street murals

The murals by the group Subset did not have the all-clear from the city’s planning department.

A mural by Subset which was subsequently painted over.
A mural by Subset which was subsequently painted over.
Image: Twitter/Subset

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL’S prosecution against an artistic collective for three prominent street murals – including one celebrating the life of David Attenborough – will be heard over two days in June.

The murals by the group Subset did not have the all-clear from the city’s planning department.

Dublin District Court heard today that expert witnesses will give evidence on whether they were unlawful developments and broke the law.

The council issued warnings and enforcement notices for Subset to remove the paintings.

In October, Paradigm Arts Group Limited, also known as Subset, was ordered to pay €4,500 in fines and legal costs.

In that case, Dublin City Council prosecuted the artists over a mural titled Think & Wonder. It appeared on the gable end of Granthams cafe, 5/6 Camden Market, Grantham Street, facing Pleasant Place, in the city’s south side in 2019.

The council accused the group, with an address at Zion Court, Rathgar, D6, of not complying with an enforcement notice to remove the mural.

The artists were not represented at the hearing but subsequently succeeded in getting the conviction and order set aside to allow a new trial. The case was listed again today to select the date.

Judge Halpin ordered that it would take place on June 17.

The council’s solicitor Michael Quinlan told Judge Halpin that another prosecution against the art group scheduled for March 3 would also go back to a later date.

It related to the Attenborough mural just off the South Circular Road and the Horseboy painting on a gable end just off Church Street, Dublin 7.

Judge Halpin ordered it be heard on June 16, and he noted expert witnesses would be called to give evidence.

He said the issue would be whether each mural constituted a development or had artistic licence if it were not a development.

Describing it as an interesting case, he said the evidence about the Attenborough and Horseboy paintings could truncate the evidence in the following day’s hearing over the Think & Wonder mural.

The court has already ordered disclosure of evidence to the defence earlier.

The Attenborough mural, painted in 2019, was unveiled on the renowned naturalist and broadcaster’s 93rd birthday.

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It was on the gable wall of a house on South Circular Road facing Longwood Avenue, in Dublin 8.

Dublin City Council ordered its removal and alleged it was an “unauthorised development”.

The Horseboy mural, just off Church Street, Dublin 7, is based on an image taken at Smithfield Square by Australian Photographer James Horan.

Subset recreated it on the gable end of a property. A petition to keep it attracted thousands of signatures.

Council planning enforcement officers who examined each mural held they were not exempt from needing planning permission.

Under Section 154 of the Planning and Developments Acts 2000, the local authority sent enforcement notices to remove them.

Subset has had other artwork removed from Dublin city walls, including the Stormzy mural in 2017.

About the author:

Tom Tuite

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