Lord Mayor of Dublin, the Green Party councillor Caroline Conroy, brought the subject to yesterday morning’s Dublin City Council meeting.
The removal of live animals of the Nativity crib received “full support” from members of DCC’s Protocol Committee.
The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), which supplies the animals, has expressed its disappointment and said it received no communication on the decision despite weeks of preparations
The farmyard crib has been a joint initiative between the council and the IFA since 1995, and usually runs throughout the month of December.
The festive crib on Dawson Street is a specially constructed life-size stable, with donkeys, sheep and goats.
The stable has become a Christmas tradition in recent years, drawing large crowds to its official opening. In past years the animals were brought in each morning at 9am and returned around 6pm to a farm in Co Wicklow.
Dublin City Council acknowledged that the live crib played a “valuable part” in the city’s celebrations.
However, protocols introduced since the Covid pandemic mean the animals must now be viewed behind a Perspex screen.
“The effects of Covid on how we approach events mean that the scene must now be viewed from behind a Perspex barrier. The Lord Mayor wants to create a new experience that will allow children to be part of the scene rather than just looking at it,” a council spokeswoman said.
“The details of this are to be finalised and will be announced later, it will include a Nativity scene and allow everyone to feel like they are part of a Christmas in 1715 when the Mansion House was first purchased.”
Richard Guiney, chief executive officer of Dublin Town, said the removal of the animal crib is “disappointing” and the atmosphere it helps to creates.
“It’s part of the overall city experience. People do come to the city for things like the Christmas lights, the atmosphere, the whole vibe of the city and families coming in to meet Santa Claus.”
Mr Guiney added that the live animal aspect adds to making the city a more attractive location.
“It is a nice addition to the city. There’s one time of the year that I think the city is very child-friendly is at Christmas. Kids love the lights and the whole atmosphere.
“I think it’s the one thing we do very well in Dublin is Christmas, it’s a nice place to be in the run-up,” he said.
Meanwhile, the IFA has said preparations were already under way for the city farmyard that was due to open in six weeks’ time.
A spokesman for the IFA said: “IFA has had no communication from the Lord Mayor’s office about any change in the arrangements for the Live Animal Crib. Our partnership stretches back to the mid-’90s and is a hugely popular part of the pre-Christmas tradition in Dublin.”
Design plans for this year’s Nativity have not yet been finalised, but Dublin City Council said it will complement the capital’s Winter Lights Festival.