Ha’penny Bridge banner retired over planning breach

Ha'penny Bridge in Dublin as the sun sets. Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall

A controversial banner that adorned the Ha’penny Bridge has been put into permanent storage after Dublin City Council found it was in breach of its own planning guidelines.

The ‘Up the Dubs’ banner had been erected every time the county was victorious in the All-Ireland or National League finals.

However, complaints from members of the public and the Dublin Civic Trust spurred a review of whether the banner should in fact be allowed hang on a protected historic structure like the Ha’penny Bridge.

Internal emails released under Freedom of Information laws explain that hanging the banner “materially affects [the] character” of the famous landmark.

The banner was first put up in 2011 after Dublin had won their first senior football All-Ireland after a gap of 16 years.

A city council official put together an information note saying it had been approved by the then city manager and had been used in every year since.

He wrote: “In 2011, we also had differing opinions about the banner but the positive reaction from Dubliners and tourists outweighed the negative and today we use a number of city landmarks to promote positive initiatives: Liberty Hall, Civic Offices etc.”

In response, another official — city parks superintendent Leslie Moore — wrote: “I think it should come down as it obscures a famous city landmark?”

The issue was then passed on to the planning department of the city council in April.

Paul Clegg, the executive manager in planning and property management, wrote: “Following consideration of the pros and cons it comes down to a decision as to whether the erection of a banner ‘materially affects the character’ of the protected structure and our opinion is that it did.

It was discussed and agreed at a recent management team meeting that it was not appropriate to erect banners on the bridge in future.

In what would prove a final plea for the banner, the city parks superintendent asked: “Not even a few days before All-Ireland?”

Those hopes were dashed however, when the planning department wrote to say it did not matter when it was erected.

“Yes, although the banner was up for longer than needed and this caused a bit of controversy,” said Mr Clegg. “It is considered that a banner on the bridge materially affects its character no matter how long it’s for.”

Documents from the local authority explain they had received a number of complaints including one from a member of the public who said the banner stopped tourists taking photos of the bridge. The records also show plans had been afoot to replace the banner with a new one.

However, the banner has instead been retired with Dublin City Council saying: “There are no plans to re-use the banner on any other bridge.”


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