Mixed reactions as the Pope’s visit set to put Dublin into lockdown

by Gazette Reporter
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The city centre will be on lockdown for Pope Francis’ visit this weekend as Dublin City Council and the Office of Public Works face a mammoth logistics challenge.

On Saturday, August 25, there will be 51 roads facing temporary closure including most thoroughfares in the city centre, with some shutting down as early as 6am.

Sunday will see 86 roads cut off, with parking suspended on another six, with a full list available on Dublin City Council’s website.

Parking will also be suspended in many areas though the council has stressed that emergency routes will be maintained and local access will be “facilitated as far as possible”.

Public transport services will continue to run during this period – with some changes to normal timetables – and passengers are urged to check with Dublin Bus and Luas before departing.

There will also be limited access to the Phoenix Park, and Dublin Zoo will be closed to the public for the weekend.

Social Democrats Dail candidate for Dublin West, Aengus O Maolain, has criticised the extensive closures, describing the plans for Sunday in particular as “ludicrous overkill”.

He said: “Roads as far away from the Phoenix Park as Lucan and Blanchardstown are proposed to be closed under the notice.

“Ashtown, Cabra, Navan Road, Castleknock, Laurel Lodge, Carpenterstown and Porterstown are going to be effectively cut off from the rest of Dublin for the Pope’s visit if the OPW’s road closures plan for August 26 are allowed to go ahead.

“It will be near impossible for residents to travel to other parts of the city with the proposed road closures.

“People have been telling me that they feel the proposal is totally over the top, particularly for the many people in the area who have no interest in the Papal mass.”

He was also critical of the fact that the OPW held a briefing for the community on August 10 at the Castleknock Hotel – the day after the deadline had expired for objections to the plan to be lodged with Fingal County Council.

The Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Anthony Lavin (FG), will be one of the first to greet Pope Francis when he touches down at Dublin Airport at 10.30am on Saturday.

It’s not clear whether the Pontiff plans to follow in the footsteps of Pope John Paul II who kissed the tarmac when he visited in 1979, but he’s guaranteed a Cead Mile Failte nonetheless.

A spokesperson for Fingal County Council told Dublin Gazette: “Cllr Lavin will be there on the tarmac to greet him wearing the chain of office, as is customary with any visiting dignitary.”

The whirlwind tour continues with a welcome ceremony in front of Aras an Uachtarain at 11.15am, a stop-off at Dublin Castle at 12.10pm, a tour of the Pro Cathedral at 3.30pm, followed by a visit to the Capuchin Day Centre.

Saturday will end with a speech at the Feast of Families festival in Croke Park. Pope Francis will then fly to Knock at 8.40am on Sunday and is due back in Dublin at 11.50am, ahead of mass at the Phoenix Park.

He will be given a farewell ceremony at Dublin Airport at 6.30pm and is due to board a flight for Fiumicino Airport in Rome at 6.45pm.

The Abbey Street stop on the Luas red line will be suspended from 11am to 5pm on Saturday and there will be no service on the Luas green line between Dawson and Parnell from 10.30am to 5.30pm.

On Sunday, there is an even further impact for Luas users – however, there will be free travel on all public transport (provided you have a Phoenix Park Papal Ticket).

There will also be a secure access area around the city on Sunday, starting at the M50 at 6am until 11pm.

Reporting by Sylvia Pownall and Rachel D’Arcy

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