Limerick councillor takes umbrage over filming at statue

Nick Rabbitts


Nick Rabbitts

AN online video featuring a Limerick city councillor urging a group of youths not to jump on a statue has gone viral.

AN online video featuring a Limerick city councillor urging a group of youths not to jump on a statue has gone viral.

A ten-minute video has been uploaded to YouTube which shows Cllr John Gilligan approaching a group of seven people filming around the Dockers Monument on the riverfront in Limerick city.

They were making a movie to be filmed as part of the Make a Move street art festival, which took place earlier this summer.

But when Cllr Gilligan approached the group, they filmed his intervention.

The video - which has the title ‘Man Gives Out To Bboys For Dancing’ - shows Cllr Gilligan urging the group not to jump on the monument.

The youths said he used strong language, something Cllr Gilligan confirmed.

In the video, he said: “Stay off the statue. Move on - this is our statue, this is our city. You are vandalising our statue. What you are doing is abusing it: you are jumping all over it, stay off it.”

He also threatened to “call the cops”.

But Baz Bourke, one of the men behind the Make a Move festival, argued back: “It is my statue as well. We just want to take one shot. It is not just your city. You can’t be like this, we are in 2012: this is all our city. Can we not embrace each other and help each other?”

The argument went back and forth, with Cllr Gilligan - referred to in the video as an ‘angry counsellor’ - saying: “What I don’t want to see is people like you jumping around on the statue”.

Another youth, not identified in the video, urged the councillor to “learn some people skills”, and threatened to report him.

Since the video was uploaded, it has received a mixed reaction, with some people saying Cllr Gilligan should not have acted in the manner he did, and others supporting his intervention, saying the monument should be protected. More than 5,000 people have watched its content over just a couple of days.

Speaking after the video was released late last week, another man featured, Mario Felicellio said there was no excuse for Cllr Gilligan’s behaviour.

“They were all well-mannered, polite, educated teenagers. We put together a promotional video of Limerick. The idea was to show Limerick in animation: these are people, this is the ambience,” he explained.

He pointed out the group also filmed around Arthur’s Quay, King John’s Castle and near the courthouse.

The group said the idea was to “honour the statue”.

Mr Bourke claimed Cllr Gilligan was present for five minutes before they decided to capture him on camera.

“We would have taken an apology from him to address the situation, and maybe allow him to help us. The reason for the [Make a Move] festival was to promote positivity and [act] against substance abuse. He looked at what we were doing from a distance, made his own decisions, and decided we were vandals, coming from bad backgrounds, trying to destroy the statue,” Mr Bourke said.

In a statement, Cllr Gilligan said he had witnessed a “sustained and determined attack” on the monument.

He said: “I was alarmed to then see one of the group jump on the plank and pose for the camera.”

The group are concerned for the future of the Make A Move festival, following this incident.

To view the video click here.