- 29 Jan 24
"This isn’t the Dublin we want or need," Aodhán Ó Ríordáin remarked. "More steel railings makes the city feel more unwelcoming & more unsafe"
Ahead of the reopening of the Ambassador Theatre on Dublin's Parnell Square, the venue's operators have revealed that they want to surround the building, which was originally constructed in 1764, with permanent steel railings. As reported by The Irish Times this morning, the purpose of the railings would be "to protect patrons, staff and the historic building from threats to safety and antisocial behaviour."
According to the paper, the railings – which Millennium Theatre Company are seeking permission for – would be up to 1.7m high, and would mean the entrance plaza would be closed off from the public.
The operators of the venue complained in their application to Dublin City Council that the building was "subjected daily to anti-social behaviour".
There has been notable backlash online to the news – with Dublin Civic Trust stating: "Railing-in the building would be a retrograde step."
"The Ambassador is the great Pantheon-like round room that gave the Rotunda its name," the organisation, which works to works to recognise and protect the city's architectural heritage, wrote online. "Built in 1764-67, it is remarkably intact behind disfiguring advertising."
Leader of Sinn Féin Mary Lou McDonald called it "bad news for Dublin" and "the latest evidence of Government failure to provide Garda presence and resources to the city."
"Remember communities live in the inner city," she continued. "They deserve to be safe."
Dublin Central TD Gary Gannon of the Social Democrats wrote on X that it is "a lazy, uninspiring vision for the city that will do more harm than good."
"Fencing in buildings doesn’t make them safe," he resumed. "We would be in a much poorer place if all of the cultural bodies on Parnell Sq took this approach. This is a destruction of our cultural heritage."
Labour's Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, TD for Dublin Bay North, also commented on the news, describing it as "short sighted & wrong-headed."
"This isn’t the Dublin we want or need," he wrote. "More steel railings makes the city feel more unwelcoming & more unsafe."
It was announced last year that the Ambassador Theatre was set to reopen in the coming months. It operated as a music venue until 2008, but was being used for exhibitions and one-off events up until the Covid-19 pandemic. It was used in 2022, however, as the setting for a special show by Bono and The Edge, which was featured in the documentary A Sort of Homecoming with Dave Letterman.