Anne Marie McNally: Event Management Based On Perceptions Of An Ireland From A Bygone Era

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From top: Phoenix Park Master of Ceremonies Fr Damian McNeice; traffic restrictions around Phoenix Park on Sunday; Anne Marie McNally

In the wake of Pope Francis’ visit to these shores much has been made of the numbers, or lack thereof, which bothered turning up to see him.

For those of us who pointed out the vast discrepancy between the actual numbers and the widely publicised expected numbers, the counter argument has been that we are somehow gloating or belittling those who did attend.

On the contrary, I am delighted that anyone who wanted to attend had the opportunity to do so.

I am delighted that those who find comfort in their faith and who still worship the official Catholic Church got to experience what, to them, must have been a significant event.

I understand and thoroughly respect the positive influence and the personal comfort that a person’s faith can provide.

However it is, and should be, a deeply personal thing.

Yet last weekend that private choice was thrust upon the many of us who haven’t made that choice, both in terms of travel restrictions and costs.

I completely accept the fact that I live in a capital city and major events happen which require coordination and planning and oftentimes restrictions.

That’s not an issue. I also understand that the Pope is (despite my personal opinion of him!) a fairly big deal and a visit from him is likely to upend normality somewhat.

However that should not stop us asking the very legitimate and pertinent questions regarding the completely overestimated scale of the event and the corresponding overreaction regarding event management.

It is worth pointing out that this was not an official State visit but rather a private Church gig for their World Meeting of Families.

This coming Sunday is All-Ireland final day. 82,300 ticket holders will descend upon central Dublin from all across the country and indeed the world.

That figure doesn’t include the many others who will make their way to the city to soak up the atmosphere and try to get their hands on a golden ticket.

All in all, 100,000 sports fan in a fairly tight quadrant of Dublin City is extremely realistic.

There will be Garda in place to help traffic flow; there will be some access roads closed to traffic to facilitate the pedestrian surge; and there will undoubtedly be packed buses and Luas trams.

There will not however be a city lockdown for the entire day.

There will not be people who have to get pre-clearance and ID passes for personal visitors to their own home.

There will not be significant changes to the public transport system meaning people cannot get to work or about their usual daily lives.

There will not be entire dual carriage-ways closed off for 15 hours.

Yet all of the above happened on Sunday last when, according to official estimates, the crowd only just exceeded that of a good All-Ireland Final day in Croker and was perhaps even less than the crowd in the Phoenix Park for Robbie Williams or Ed Sheeran.

I respect those Ed or Robbie fan’s right to worship at their chosen musical altar as much as I respect the pilgrims on Sunday choosing their particular altar so why is one choice treated so differently and deferentially?

Quite simply it is because Official Ireland and its media has refused to hear the increasingly loud message from Irish society that such deference to religion and the Catholic Church is simply not representative of Irish society any longer.

It’s not that the message hasn’t been delivered repeatedly, loudly and clearly. When Ireland effectively rebuked a Catholic Church that had shouted at it in the foulest of ways with the gravest of threats in the months leading up to the referendum on the 8th Amendment it did so resoundingly.

When the patronage question is asked, parents respond clearly on the need for new school models without the influence of the church.

Mass attendances alone tell a story or have a look at the number of applicants for the priesthood of late.

Catholic Church dominance in Irish lives is a historical feature of times past and no amount of sensational headlines about “600,000 expected in park” can change that.

The powers that be proceeded with event management plans based on perceptions of an Ireland from a bygone era and as a result we, the citizens, ended up with a ridiculous bill and an overreaction in event planning that cost many of us our plans; many others who were forced to take the day off lost wages for the day, and many businesses lost their income for the day.

And for what? a slightly larger than normal concert attended by some die-hard fans for all intents and purposes.

A whole other column could be dedicated to the fact that such costs and plans were put in place to facilitate the head of the institution responsible for so many crimes both here in Ireland and worldwide; so much suffering; and even on the day of the visit such hurtful and damaging remarks not least the Pope’s classification of homosexuality as a mental illness.

But for this column at least I think I’ll stick to making the point that if we seek to live in an actual Republic, which we supposedly do, then we simply cannot turn a blind-eye to the State expenditure and resources – both in planning and organisation – that were expended and potentially wasted on what was essentially a private gig by a celebrity for his fans.

Anne Marie McNally is Social Democrats Political Director and General Election candidate for Dublin Mid-West. Her column appears here every Wednesday. Follow Anne Marie on Twitter: @amomcnally

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44 thoughts on “Anne Marie McNally: Event Management Based On Perceptions Of An Ireland From A Bygone Era

  1. Conski

    Perversely the numbers attending would have been higher if 1) city wasn’t in lockdown 2) chance of a cup of tea and a sit down 3) half daycent weather 4) and he finished the set with a cover of UB40 Red Red Wine

    As a non-believer I would have been interested in attending to gawp had there been tea and seats

    1. hapfff

      also constant messaging about how hard it was going to be to get in, and how long the walk would be etc.

    2. realPolithicks

      Or perhaps its simply the case that the catholic church simply no longer has the sway in Ireland that it used to have. Irish people in general are much better educated than they were even in the 70’s when I was a teenager and can easily see through the hypocrisy which is at the heart of this religion. Frankly instead of a trying to pretend that more people turned up to these events than actually did why don’t they simply accept their reduced role in Irish society and concentrate their efforts on the people who actually wish to be a part of this religion.

  2. BS

    looks to me like people coming from the southside of the city got the better sections in the crowd….there should be an inquiry

  3. Ollie Cromwell

    I see the latest immigration figures are out and they’re the highest in a decade.
    Another 34,000 net inward migration and almost the same number of foreign nationals arriving in the period up to April 2018 so add probably another 15,000 in the six months since then.
    They’ll all be needing houses to live in,schools to send their kids to ,hospital beds for when they fall ill.
    Don’t see any of these being built in the last 12 months.
    Madness.

      1. Ollie Cromwell

        And today there’s a housing shortage,rents are sky-high and record numbers of people are sleeping on trolleys in hospital corridors.
        So let’s add another 34,000 people into the mix and the same if not more next year.

  4. hapfff

    I can see why this went orsways and people are cheesed off. but how could if have been different?

    a million came for JP2. Organisers prepared for half that which is quite a cut. not sure how they could have been asked to prepare for less, or on what basis? these things are once in a generation things, impossible to predict accurately

    1. George

      Mass going figures have dropped by much more than 50% in the same time. The last pope came 40years ago.

  5. Elron

    Another “i really respect de Catholics cos Im really tolerant and compassionate” but I really hate dem cos of de modernism and de money and all dat.

    More of the bigotry wrapped in kindness that has me puking all week.

      1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

        You know what? There’s nothing like a good healthy snort of laughter of an afternoon.

  6. Jackdaw

    More bullpoo from the social democrats. 500,000 tickets were snapped up so they had to plan for that. To do otherwise would be completely negligent. This constant Monday morning quarterbacking is tiring from this constantly offended shower of muppets.

    1. Cian

      I agree. If they had not planned for 500,000 but the full number attended – then Anne Marie would be moaning about the lack of preparation, and how they let us all down, and how it would affect the perception of Ireland.

      1. b

        +1

        if you’re looking for someone to blame look at the people who made the tickets available too easily for free instead of putting some charge that could have gone to the cost of the event and also those who got tickets and didn’t bother attending (protest or laziness) – there was a huge cost to people not turning up after getting tickets as it made the arrangements necessary for 500k and had the knock on of making travel even more restricted and encouraging even less to travel

        an all -round fupp up but hard to lay a lot of blame at those who had to plan to 500k

  7. Bonkers

    Wouldnt agree with Anne-Marie here. If 500,000 showed up then the road closures would have been justified, just because 130,000 showed up doesnt mean we can be wise in hindsight. The organisers distributed 500,000 tickets so that is the number the NTA, Gardai, Defence Forces, etc had to plan for. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail and all that.
    Now if there is any complaint about the Popes visit it should be as to why his apologies do not come with actions. Empty words is all we got, same as its ever been.

    1. Daisy Chainsaw

      And his apologies aren’t really apologies either. They’re requests for forgiveness and there’s a world of difference between asking your victim to forgive you and you simply saying sorry to them. The Vatican has never said sorry because that would be admitting responsibility and laying them open to being sued. The Vatican, as we know, would rather hurt children than the money.

  8. Worlds Biggest Ranter

    Th era of strong catholic beliefs and religious dominance is over in Ireland. They will never again have the crippling stranglehold on this nation that they once had. If people want to go to mass and bang on about a made up story from a couple of thousand years ago then fire away, Science (Read Education, not Catholic fear mongering indoctrination) says its nonsense and you’re wrong at best and – more realistically – naive, brain washed and quite possibly slightly mentally ill at worst.

    Its game over for the solemn sounding old men.”There’s a lot of good people in the church” you’ll hear them proclaim. Turns out there’s good people everywhere. Thing is those good people outside the church dont really have issues with small children being protected or care what I get up to in my own bedroom. Proclaiming that aul chestnut as an excuse for the church to continue to exist just dont cut it no more. Job is not even half complete. This weekends proof of the collapse in Catholic influence and strength in this country should just go to further strengthen and fuel our desire to rid this little nation of such a poisonous onerous organisation once and for all.

    You want God (which ever one of the couple of thousand currently being portrayed as the “real one” on the planet at this very moment by various different establishments) then you fire ahead. Just keep him/her/it away from what its clearly now a majority.

  9. rotide

    Ammo has written multiple columns here about succesive governments failure to plan for things. The HSE, The housing crisis etc. Now it’s a disaster because people actually DID plan wisely.

    Yes, it was a pain in the orse to have travel restrictions for one day. Get over it.

    1. Owen C

      “Event Management Based On Perceptions Of An Ireland From A Bygone Era” – it was event management based on the number of tickets issued. They got it wrong, but not clear how they could have gotten it right given the tickets issued. For all the talk of restrictions etc, we do something similar (if slightly lower key) twice a year with the marathon and St Patrick’s Day. Amazingly, businesses don’t go out of business through the inconvenience of those two days.

      1. Spud

        For all the moaning of money businesses lost, driving through town yesterday on the way home I noticed a huge number of touristy folks out spending their cash.
        Surely the World Families thing and visit of the Pope himself was a huge draw for even more tourists into the capital.
        They probably still benefited greatly from the whole thing.

      2. anne

        What were the tickets issued based on? Anything at all? A hail Mary & a halelouya, a phone in to psychic flan maybe?

        The census? It certainly wasnt based on recently referenda or mass going numbers.

        1. Rob_G

          Perhaps all those gobdaws who ordered hundreds, if not thousands, of tickets, with no intention of going, was a factor in the overestimation.

          1. rotide

            Yeah probably, but they didn’t and it has jack all to do with people planning for the amount of tickets allocated. They can’t just sit back and go ‘pfft, sure look at the census, there’ll be 60 thousand max’ and head off for a gin and tonic. They had to plan for a maximum number.

            as for ‘What were the tickets issued based on?’ . People emailed, they were issued tickets. It’s not that complicated.

  10. nellyb

    it was a way to insure we’re not going to see another one here for another 30 years. money well spent i say and 30 years is a long time

  11. JohnMcVittie

    “I understand and thoroughly respect the positive influence and the personal comfort that a person’s faith can provide.

    However it is, and should be, a deeply personal thing.”

    I’m in complete agreement and I feel the same way about a secular society that segments sexual orientation and openly celebrates some but not others. I can’t see BS letting this comment through, but whatever.

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