DUBLIN City Council has been urged not to order any new ceremonial robes for its elected representatives as they cost €400 each.
Southside People has learned that Dublin City Council recently contacted all 52 sitting members to find out how many new robes needed to be ordered.
The ceremonial green and blue robes, described by some as “outdated and functionless”, are provided to councillors on their election and must be handed back if they lose or give up their seats.
However, the council is currently trying to establish how many new robes need to be bought for councillors who may have lost or never received a robe.
Correspondence seen by Southside People from Dublin City Council to elected members revealed that four robes were found in City Hall party rooms with no names attached.
“There are two robes in the Fianna Fail room, one robe in the Fine Gael room and one in the Labour room,” the email stated.
“So I would really appreciate it if you would let me know if any of these four robes are yours as otherwise I will pass these robes on to another member.”
According to éirígí councillor Louise Minihan, who insists she never availed of or wanted a ceremonial robe, the plan to purchase new ones is an “outrageous and inexcusable” waste of taxpayers’ money at a time when members of the public are struggling financially.
“I have made it clear to officials that there was no place for these robes in council business and I have refused to wear them,” she stated.
“The ceremonial robes are an unwelcome hangover from an archaic colonial system that has no relevance to the people of Dublin today.
“Like the robes and wigs of the legal system they are designed to reinforce a caste system that tries to place the likes of judges, barristers and councillors above the rest of the population.”
She added: “They had no place in the last century never mind this one.”
Cllr Minihan is calling on her fellow councillors to give a commitment not to order new ceremonial costumes “while families and communities across Dublin continue to suffer the full brunt of unjust austerity”.
“We have been elected to represent the people of Dublin and to stand up and give a voice to our communities, not to play dress up in ceremonial robes,” she stated.
Given the €400 cost of each garment, Dublin City Council hopes to order “only the necessary number of robes”.
The robes are worn for ceremonial occasions such as the Freedom of the City, St Patrick’s Day and at civic receptions for visiting heads of state. According to a spokesperson for the council, returned robes are then passed on to new members.
“Councillors were contacted to establish who did not have robes,” the spokesperson told Southside People.
“There was never an offer of new robes for those who already have them.
“We have not had replies from all members yet so we are not sure what the final order will be.”
The Dublin City Council spokesperson said €400 was the maximum cost of a robe.