Bill aims to resolve planning laws at heart of legal action against Subset
A bill aimed at modernizing murals laws and protecting “really beautiful and really important public art” has been brought before the Dail.
The Public Art Mural (Exempted Development) Bill was presented to the Dail this afternoon by Sinn Fein.
The bill was developed in collaboration with artists’ collective SubSet, who are at the center of a long-running court battle over three murals in the Dublin area that Dublin City Council says require planning permission.
One of their murals celebrates the life of Sir David Attenborough, Horseboy depicts a young person in a hoodie riding a white horse, while the Think And Wonder mural marks Mental Health Month.
Under planning law, organizers of public murals require a permit to paint gable walls, which Subset has criticized as strict and outdated.
Sinn Fein TD Eoin O Broin, who introduced the bill, said it aims to resolve the legal issues surrounding the lawsuit against SubSet and protect “really important public art.”
“So the legislation is very simple,” he told the PA news agency.
“It creates a new planning exception and if it were to become law it would mean that if a private building owner/property owner wants to have public art on their building they do not need a planning application under the following conditions.
“First of all, the public art or mural must have an artistic and cultural value. This is a term or legal language used in other legislation such as the Arts Council Legislation.
“Secondly, it must not be a commercial advertisement. There are a number of sections of scheduling code that are dedicated to commercial advertising. This is for art and culture purposes, not to promote products for sale.
“The other area is public art, which must not conflict with the Gender Equality Act. What we do not want is abuse of a planning exemption for hate speech, for homophobia, for racism, sexism, etc.
“We’re trying to create legislation that would allow for good quality public art, but still have some reasonable limitations – there’s another part of the bill that is that there would be some requirements for planning applications in specific areas of architecture preservation.” .”
He said he hopes the government will back him once the bill enters phase two and has urged Dublin City Council to reconsider its legal action until the Oireachtas process is complete.
He said: “In order to give the Oireachtas their debt, the City Council should now allow us to go through this process before deciding to proceed.
“Because if we were to pass such a law and enact it, it would really make the current legal action against SubSet a moot point.”
Dublin City Council has been contacted for comment.