A 'small minority' ruining Dublin Portal experience

People view the live stream portal between Dublin and New York which was temporarily closed following some "inappropriate behaviour" in the Irish capital, which has led to changes in how the visual link operates. (Photo by Niall Carson/PA Images via Getty Images)

A "small minority" are ruining the Dublin Portal experience for others, some people in the Irish capital have said.

Changes will be made to the way the visual art installation linking Dublin to New York is operated due to some individuals having previously engaged in "inappropriate behaviour" near the portal, Dublin City Council said on Monday.

The 24/7 livestream is on a big, circular screen erected just off the junction where North Earl Street runs onto the city's main thoroughfare, O'Connell Street.

It allows people in Dublin in the Republic of Ireland to see what is going on in New York in the United States in real-time.

A similar screen and webcam in the Big Apple also means people there can see what is happening in Dublin, around the clock.

The portals opened last week in both cities, with many people enjoying the ability to interact with passers-by on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

However on Monday, Irish and US media reported inappropriate behaviour over the weekend at the Dublin portal.

Videos circulating online included clips of a man "mooning" and others apparently pretending to take drugs.

A caller to RTÉ told of a woman suspected of being under the influence of alcohol being led away by gardaí (Irish police) after dancing provocatively against the portal screen.

In a statement on Monday, the council said the "overwhelming majority of interactions are positive" but said "a very small minority of people" had been engaged in the "inappropriate behaviour" and that this has been "amplified through social media".

"While we cannot control all of these actions, we are implementing some technical solutions to address this," it added.

"We will continue to monitor the situation over the coming days with our partners in New York to ensure that portals continue to deliver a positive experience for both cities and the world."

The council has not specified what technical changes will be made.

Elio Bonelli
Elio Bonelli says it is frustrating but not surprising some people are engaging in inappropriate behaviour [BBC]

Elio Bonelli is from Tipperary and has been coming down to the Dublin Portal to take photographs of people interacting with the art installation.

Mr Bonelli said it was "frustrating but not surprising" that a small minority of people are ruining what should be a fun way for people to connect.

"I think people did kind of expect it," he said.

"Like with most things, there's always a few people, a small minority who end up ruining it."

He said it was "amazing that through something like this, people can connect to other people on the other side of the world".

"I just like to capture excitement in the imagery that I do and this is a great way to do that," he said.

Robbie Reidy
Robbie Reidy says social media is highlighting the negative behaviour [BBC]

Robbie Reidy is from Dublin and has been enjoying playing rock-paper-scissors with people in New York through the portal.

Mr Reidy said hearing reports of people engaging in inappropriate behaviour at the portal is very disappointing.

"We are trying to represent Dublin," he told BBC News NI.

"The stuff that isn't too great is all over social media and gains more popularity, but 99% of the time it's friendly interactions."

Emma Shields and Jazmyne Aquino
Emma Shields (L) and Jazmyne Aquino (R) are visiting Dublin from the US [BBC]

Two American tourists visiting form Los Angeles said the portals are all about bringing communities together, but people need to be mindful of their actions.

Emma Shields said she saw the portal on TikTok and wanted to come down and see it for herself.

Jazmyne Aquino said she is aware of some of the interactions being "pretty scandalous" and said everyone needs to "remember to be careful" and be able to have fun and connect.

In a statement to RTÉ, the company behind the installation, Portals Organization, said it did "not intend to suggest people to interact with portals in any particular way".

"Our goal is to open a window between far away places and cultures that allows people to interact freely with one another," it added.

"We encourage people to be respectful and from our position as observers, we see that the absolute majority of experiences is on the bright side."