Plans are in place to accommodate a crowd of 600,000 people in Dublin’s Phoenix Park when Pope Francis celebrates Mass there this August, according to the Government.
Speaking in the Dáil last week, independent TD Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, Minister of State for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief, said the Government expected up to 600,000 people to visit the Park that day. The August 26 Mass is expected to be the largest gathering of people in Ireland since the visit of Pope St John Paul II in 1979, which drew over 1,000,000 people to the Dublin Park.
The Pope’s visit, announced this March, will bring to a close the ninth World Meeting of Families (WMOF), being held in Dublin over August 22-26. A poll conducted by RTÉ’s Clare Byrne Live earlier this year suggested that as many as 18% of Irish people intend to attend the papal Mass.
Asked by Labour TD Joan Burton what budget had been allocated for the event and how many were expected to attend, Mr Moran said: “It is not possible to provide a fully costed estimate for the visit of Pope Francis to the Phoenix Park in August this year as arrangements for the event have yet to be finalised. It is expected that the number of people visiting the park that day will not exceed 600,000.”
The Longford-Westmeath TD added that the Office of Public Works is undertaking preparatory works to cater for the health, safety, and welfare of those attending the park, and is working closely with WMOF organisers and contractors to ensure the event is managed safely and restored to normal as soon as possible afterwards.
Among the works planned to facilitate the event, explained Mr Moran, are the temporary widening of gates, the identification and lining of routes or pathways within the park, and the installation of security, stewarding and other facilities.
“A nationwide traffic and pedestrian management plan is currently under development to cater for the large crowds expected to attend, the details of which will be conveyed to the public through the Government Information Service in due course,” he said.
It is not expected that the park will suffer any significant damage because of the event, he added.