THE ORGANISER of a charity campaign which saw Dubliners hanging any spare coats they had across Ha’penny Bridge for the homeless to use has defied council plans and restarted the initiative.
Dublin City Council sparked widespread anger after they opted to remove the accumulated garments on the bridge over the weekend, citing “health and safety” concerns.
The council claimed the coats would reduce traffic on the bridge and cause congestion.
They also expressed concern that the wet weather would leave the coats unusable if left untouched.
Footage of the coats being removed surfaced on social media, sparking angry reactions from those who had previously praised the initiative.
While the council insisted the coats would be donated to charity, the organiser of the #warmforwinter campaign has gone against the council’s expressed desire to bring the campaign to a close.
Just over a day on from the removal of the first batch of coats, Paddy Fryers from Clones in Co Monaghan has returned to hang a further 40 coats on the bridge.
The organiser of the #warmforwinter campaign in Dublin has hung more than 40 coats from the Ha'penny Bridge tonight - 24 hours after the city council removed other items of clothing for health and safety reasons. Paddy Fryers says public support for the initiative remains strong. pic.twitter.com/sZ8OxYrHZT
— Philip Bromwell (@philipbromwell) December 9, 2019
The coat drop consists of donations from Clones and the surrounding Dublin area, with Fryers finding plenty of support for his campaign in the wider Irish public.
Speaking to RTE, the charity fundraiser blasted the council’s decision to remove the coats, describing it as something that goes “against the spirit of Christmas”.
"You would swear that some of these jackets had never been worn. People have really got behind the campaign, as they see it as a way that they can help," he said.
Fryers told the broadcaster he wanted to create something that made it easy for people to get a warm coat without any stigma.”
“They should just be able to pick one up and disappear into the darkness.”
Describing the support for the project as “unreal” Fryers told RTE he has been contacted by supporters from all over the world.
“There had been no real issue or controversy with what I was doing,” he added.
“But the city council's decision to remove coats from the Ha'Penny Bridge at the weekend has made people very angry."
The Council previously defended the decision in a statement explaining:
“It is the city council’s duty to protect the public and prevent accidents from occurring on this footbridge, through any restrictions in pedestrian flow, particularly at this time of year when thousands of people use this bridge on a daily basis.”
“Dublin City Council is very open to coming to an alternative arrangement, recognising the spirit of giving and generosity at this time of year,” the council added