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First measures in Dublin city traffic plan set for August

Dublin City councillors have heard the the first measures of the draft Dublin City Transport plan, which include bus gates on the quays, will come into effect in early August.

Presenting the report to the council’s monthly meeting, Executive Manager for Environment and Transport Brendan O’Brien said although the numbers of cars coming into the city centre in recent years had increased, the dominant mode of transport in the city was public transport.

He said the aim of this latest transport plan for the city was to allow the public transport network, which already carries 60% of those who access the city centre, to grow. He said space also had to be allowed for walking and cycling networks to grow.

He said around 60% of the motor traffic in the city centre was through traffic and that had to be dealt with to create a low traffic environment in the city centre.

He said the plan was not to block access to the city centre but to reduce traffic. He said the public consultation on the plan received more than 3,000 responses which was a high level of engagement.

The majority of public transport users and the majority of car drivers were in favour of plans to restrict traffic in the city centre. He said concerns were expressed by some who feared there would be no access for cars or delivery vehicles to the city centre (there will be access, though restricted) and people living outside the city in areas with poor public transport services.

He said a large number of health organisations including the HSE, the Irish Heart Foundation and the Irish Asthma Association welcomed the plan, submitting there would be benefits to both physical and mental health if it is implemented.

He said the council will work with Ticketmaster to use the company’s App to show people how they can get to events, and it will publish maps to show people how they can drive to hospitals around the city

A number of groups including the Grafton Car Park and the City Centre Business Association objected to the plan, but the council is committed to working with those groups.

He said the first measures will come into effect in early August and they will include the bus gates on the quays and the Western Road.

Independent Councillor Mannix Flynn said the plan was being driven by the executive, with no input from councillors and would very likely end up in the courts. He claimed that business groups and residents objected to the plan and said people had not been informed about it.

Independent Councillor Damien O’Farrell moved an emergency motion that the transport plan be put on hold until the views of people with disabilities are heard and incorporated into the plan. He said Dublin City Council would be in breach of the UN Convention on Disability if it is implemented as it stands.

Sinn Féin Councillor Daithí Doolan welcomed the plan but had concerns following an email he had received from Vision Impaired Ireland and asked if people who used “blue badge vehicles” would still have access to city centre. He said he did not want his concerns seen as an attempt to stop the plan.

The first of the measures contained in the plan are due to come into effect in early August

Green Party Councillor Donna Cooney welcomed the plan and said she would like to see a representative of the visually impaired community on the Transport Strategic Policy Committee during the next council term.

Councillor Darragh Moriarty for the Labour Party welcomed the plan which he described as vital and said it was designed to meet the objectives of the development plan as voted for by councillors.

Councillor Catherine Stocker said she supported the plan, but she would vote in favour of Councillor O’Farrell’s emergency motion because the Council had not done proper consultation with disability groups and was in breach of its UN obligations

Councillor Christy Burke (Independent), seconded Damien O’Farrell’s motion because of the lack of consultation and said until there was proper consultation he would be voting against the plan.

Independent Councillor Nial Ring said the plan would send increased traffic into residential areas such as Stoneybatter and East Wall. He said it would harm climate targets by increasing the amount of time people spend in cars.

Councillor Deirdre Conroy (Fianna Fáil) said people would often like to cycle or walk but with stormy weather, such as over the last month, they often had no alternative but to drive due to inadequate public transport provision.

Brendan O’Brien responding to concerns from the councillors said the officials had contacted all Disabled Persons Representative Organisations (DPRO’s) which they had on file to inform them of the plans and there will be further consultation before the plan is implemented in August.

He said he could not answer whether the plan was vulnerable to legal challenge on the grounds of disability rights. He said people had raised the issue of blue badge holders but that current legislation allowed only for additional parking rights and could not be used to exempt those vehicles from traffic restrictions.

Councillor Damien O’Farrell interrupted several times to accuse the Executive Manager of misinformation and there were heated exchanges with the Lord Mayor Daithí de Róiste who said there were a lot of other councillors who wanted to get into the debate.

Councillor Declan Meenagh of the Labour Party said he is visually impaired, and he had come to the meeting by LUAS and was going home by bus. He said that is how most visually impaired people get around.

Brendan O’Brien said the council is continuing to engage with Diageo which has concerns over lorries getting from James’ Gate to the port and that he had met the company earlier in the day.

Councillor Michael Pidgeon of the Green Party said officials deserved more respect than they were being given at the meeting. He said there was a right to consultation but that was not a right to veto.

Council officials agreed to meet with disability groups to discuss the plan

Independent Councillor John Lyons said he welcomed the plan but had concerns over the process of consultation and shared some of his time with Councillor Damien O’Farrell who said council officials had not answered the question whether procedures had been followed on disability consultation.

Lord Mayor Daithí de Róiste (Fianna Fáil) said he welcomed the plan but wanted a commonsense approach, and said it did not make sense to divert Guinness lorries on a 40 kilometre loop around the M50 instead of allowing them to follow a 5.5km route down the quays to the port. He said Diageo could be asked not use the quays at certain times of the day.

He asked the council’s Law Agent for her opinion on the issue of whether the plan could be challenged on the grounds of inadequate consultation with disability groups. She explained the UN Convention required close engagement with disability organisations and that this be done on a continuous basis, but did not prescribe how that should be done.

Brendan O’Brien said in the consultation report there was a separate section on disability issues and there would be further opportunities for consultation as measures are rolled out. He said both the City Council and the National Transport Authority (NTA) had contacted groups representing people with disabilities before the plan was published, inviting them to make submissions and outlining how to do that.

Moving his motion Councillor Damien O’Farrell said Ireland ratified the UN Convention on Rights of Disabled Persons and since then has been legally bound by it. He said the draft plan should include responses to each of the individual points raised by the disability groups.

Councillor Declan Meehan proposed that instead of passing a motion which would not bind the executive, councillors should ask that officials meet with disability groups before the Council meeting next month to engage on the plan.

Brendan O’Brien said he would be happy to do so and the councillors, including Damien O’Farrell agreed to this.


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