Mansion House (C: Flickr CC BY 2.0 https://bit.ly/3F20PTK)

Aontú slams removal of ‘Christmas’ from Dublin City Council festival

Aontú have slammed the decision by Dublin City Council to leave the word ‘Christmas’ out of their 2022 Christmas promotional material as the city lights up for the festive season.

The switch-on of the lights across the county takes place from Mid- November, with a Festival programme in place until 1 January 2023. It will see the introduction of new installations in Smithfield Square, Dublin Docklands, The Spire, and The River Liffey, and the return of popular locations including Merrion Square Park.

Dublin City Council, promoting the festivities, said: “Winter Lights is an event catering for all ages so bring your family and friends. This year’s programme will also feature designs from a team of talented artists, see below for a full list of locations. Experience Dublin City Centre in a whole new light and feel the magic this festive season”.

However, Aontú were quick to highlight how ‘Christmas’ was not a word mentioned in any of the promotional material. The secularisation of Christmas by the Council follows the Mansion House nativity crib debacle at the end of October.

Many reacted with disappointment and anger when Green Party Lord Mayor Caroline Conroy banned live animals from the traditional life-size Nativity Crib at Dublin’s Mansion House — while advocates of the ban, including animal rights activist John Carmody who spoke to extra.ie, described the nativity crib as a “hideous display” from “the dark days of when religion had complete control over Irish society”.

As reported by Gript, for more than 35 years, donkeys, goats and sheep have made the Nativity scene extra special for small children, and alongside the figures of Mary and Joseph reminded thousands of visitors of the magic of the Christmas story.

The crib is usually organised each Christmas by Dublin City Council and the Irish Farmers Association, however the IFA said they had received no correspondence before the ban was passed by the Council’s protocol committee.

Taking to Twitter, Aontú highlighted the recent controversy around the banned live nativity, adding that the decision to strip the word Christmas from promotional material went another step further.

“After getting rid of the Crib outside the Mansion House Dublin City Councillors get rid of the word Christmas out of their Christmas promotion material.

“Who calls these “Winter Lights” anyways.

“The Lord Mayor of Dublin has a responsibility to be a Mayor for everyone,” the Party tweeted.

“NOBODY SAYS ‘HAPPY WINTER FESTIVAL’”

Speaking to Gript, Party leader Peadar Tóibín highlighted his concerns. He said the decision, along with the removal of the live crib by the Council, was “deeply hurtful” to most people in Ireland.

“There’s no doubt that the decision to delete the word Christmas from the publicity surrounding the Christmas lights is a decision that was made in tandem with the decision to get rid of the Christmas crib from the mansion house. Both of those decisions are deeply hurtful to the majority of people in the country in terms of Christmas.

“I would say most people, even those who may not be practising the religious faith, recognize the festival for what it is. It’s absolutely a festival around the birth of Christ”.

He added: “I think the decision by the Green Party Mayor of Dublin, especially the decision around the crib, really makes a lie of her statement that she is a mayor for everybody. 

“She’s clearly very partisan in all of these decisions. We talk about living in a modern, pluralist society where everybody’s cultural and religious background is welcomed, yet here we have a prime example of a Green Party politician deleting the cultural and religious identity of people from the public space.

“It is incredible – nobody says ‘happy winter festival’ to eachother. Nobody talks about turning on the winter lights on the winter tree. It’s a million miles from most people’s position. It’s so out of whack with where 99 per cent of the people stand on this”, he added.

Meanwhile, some defended the decision, with one user called David writing in response to the Party’s tweet: “Surely expanding the festive season beyond the celebration of one religion is being a mayor for everyone, not just Christians”, however others pointed out “it’s a Christian celebration” which is still celebrated by the name ‘Christmas’ in the secular world.

“Inclusivity for everyone except Christians,” another person added.

“It was obvious from the start that it was a sneaky move to secularise Christmas at the Mansion House. The Lord Mayor attempted to dress it up as animal welfare, of course, but her agenda couldn’t be disguised!” one user called Gerard said.

“Fixed it”, one social media user wrote, sharing an edited image of the promo campaign:

Gript contacted Dublin City Council for comment, who responded in a statement:

“The name Dublin Winter Lights was chosen to avoid confusion with the Grafton Street and Henry Street Christmas Lights”.

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