Kilmainham to Thomas Street- Suir Road Davitt Road Junction Upgrade

There’s a public consultation open on the upgrade of this junction. You have until the 25th of July to make your voice heard. This is my submission:

I think the overall proposal is very positive. The current layout of this junction is not safe, the proposed design is a huge improvement. I’m very happy to see the improvements to the public realm and sustainable urban drainage included in the plan.
I have three suggestions:

  1. Cyclists going west from the linear park can cross Dolphin Road to Slievenamon, but can’t cross beside the Luas lines. To reach the canal, or the cycle lane on Suir Road, they must wait for a second set of lights on Davitt Road. The cycle lane crossing the road beside the Luas line should be two-way.
  2. Cyclists coming from Slievenamon, and going to the linear park are also forced to cross both Davitt Road and Dolphin Road. The cycle lane crossing the south-east of the junction should also be two-way.
  3. Many people will be cycling to and from Good Counsel GAA club. The shared active travel facility on the south side of Davitt Road should be extended to the entrance to Good Counsel. (It is not clear if the short section of cycle lane on the north side of Davitt Road is physically protected. If it is not protected, I’m not sure what purpose it serves)

Dubliners don’t need more delays with traffic plan – Greens

Green city councillors slam Minister Emer Higgins’ “bizarre intervention” on behalf of car park owners

Dublin City Council should push ahead with their traffic plans for the city centre, the eight Green councillors have said.

They rejected calls by Minister Emer Higgins for the scheme to be delayed, criticising her intervention as “bizarre”.The initial stages of the plan would see two new short bus lanes on Aston Quay and Bachelor’s Walk, plus a new junction layout at Pearse Street. Research found that 60% of car traffic in the city centre is passing through – without stopping to shop. The plan aims to reduce this through traffic and make Dublin city centre a more attractive destination.An extensive consultation process on the plan was completed in 2023, with over 3,500 submissions made by business, residents and charities across the city. The city councillors have debated and voted on the plan several times in the past year, each time recommending its implementation.

The city council has aimed to start work in August of this year, but has faced objections from the Dublin City Centre Traders Alliance, a small lobby group mostly composed of car park owners.Green Party group leader on Dublin City Council, Cllr. Michael Pidgeon said:“Dubliners are sick of waiting. Waiting in traffic, waiting for buses, and now a minister wants them to wait for plans to fix up our city centre.“This last-ditch intervention by Minister Emer Higgins is utterly bizarre. She is doing the work of vested interests – car park owners who fear any progress that would undermine their bottom line.“Dublin city’s design cannot be dictated by car park owners. City council management should stick to their guns. It’s time to implement this plan, improve the bus, and make the core city centre a better place to be.”

Local Green councillor Claire Byrne said:“By talking this traffic out of the city centre, Dublin will be a much better place to work, shop and live. It will improve the air quality and make our streets safer to walk or cycle along. We need to get past the idea that all customers in a city drive.“In short, this plan is about giving the city back to people, making it a living city again rather than one that is dominated by cars racing through it. This is exactly the sort of measure we need to achieve our climate targets.”

Green councillor Ray Cunningham said:“The Dublin City Traffic Plan is aimed at limiting through traffic only – the cars that will never stop and shop in the city centre. It is precisely this traffic that is bad for business. “It means that those who do genuinely want to come into the city, to shop, to eat or for entertainment are getting caught up in horrendous traffic jams. This type of car-jam system doesn’t work for anyone.”

Deputy Lord Mayor of Dublin, Donna Cooney, said:“Retail and tourism thrive in low-traffic areas. We’ve seen this evidence in cities around the world.“When you create space for people to linger and enjoy, it is better for Dubliners and visitors.”

Delivering for Dublin: a political agreement for the City Council

Below is a political agreement reached in June 2024 between Dublin City Councillors from Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, the Green Party and the Labour Party. It aims to run from 2024 until 2029.

Key principles

The group will provide cohesive leadership for Dublin City Council, increasing services and funding and working collaboratively with the executive to maximise outcomes for the city.

  • Back to Basics: cleaner streets, well-kept parks, and better housing
  • A vibrant, climate-resilient city and revitalised city centre
  • More effective democratic oversight
  • Inclusion, equality and integration for everyone who calls Dublin home
  • Making Dublin the world’s first capital to be designated an autism-friendly city

Ways of working

Agendas for monthly meetings will be set and progress monitored at bi-monthly meetings between group leaders and senior management. Councillors of all participant parties commit to be bound to below key policies and will aim to work together where possible on issues beyond them.

Key policies to advance collectively

  1. The streets across the city will be maintained to a high level of cleanliness – delivered by increased budget for cleaning and waste services, hiring more direct labour staff and equipment, developing new street warden roles, implementing a new approach to commercial and bagged waste, and revising related bye-laws.
  2. Projects to improve streetscapes will be delivered in an accelerated manner.
  3. Local Property tax will be set at base rate (0% variation) for years 2, 3, 4 and 5 of this council term with a free vote in year 1. Increased funding from LPT to be ringfenced for housing maintenance, street cleanliness and a new fund for playgrounds. Parties will also seek clear commitments from the central government on improving council funding, including the introduction of a hotel tourist tax, to better support city services and ease pressure on small businesses’ commercial rates.
  4. The Council will expand direct build of public and affordable housing projects on council-owned sites. The Council will also maximise the use of existing buildings such as above shops, office blocks, and derelict sites, through both adaptive reuse and meanwhile uses, for housing, arts and community use.
  5. Funding for housing maintenance to address poor conditions in council homes will be increased and a charter for timely maintenance works will be put in place.
  6. An ongoing focus on elimination of homelessness will be maintained, including support for those impacted, standards in the sector and oversight of budgets, through the re-establishment of the homelessness subcommittee. The Council’s Housing Allocations Scheme will also be reviewed and updated.
  7. Integration and inclusion will be a core principle underpinning the Council’s actions throughout this term. It will be supported with meaningful action throughout each department of the Council and city life, including through the development of a new charter and cross-council committee and the effective implementation of the Local Economic and Community Plan.
  8. Road maintenance priorities will be decided in consultation with the local area committees.
  9. The number of pedestrian crossings will be increased, and more priority given to them in the annual active travel budget.
  10. The Active Travel Network and agreed transport plans will be safeguarded and implemented. The Dublin Bikes and BikeBunker networks will be expanded, along with greater priority to EV charging for the city.
  11. Road safety will be prioritised, through expansion of 30kph and safe school zones.
  12. The Dublin City Council Climate Action Plan and the Biodiversity Plan will be supported and funded, with new internal council structures for climate resilience.
  13. The Dublin City Council Sports Plan, including delivery of more quality facilities, will be prioritised.
  14. Develop a new tree strategy for the city, to substantially increase the tree canopy and improve responsiveness on maintenance issues.
  15. The welfare of animals will continue to be addressed through the provision of a municipal dog shelter and, if necessary, a municipal horse pound.

Dublin Inquirer Voter Guide

The excellent Dublin Inquirer newspaper have produced a voter guide for the 2024 local elections. They asked their readers to send in the questions they wanted to ask the candidates, and combined all of those questions to identify eight key issues.

Those questions, and my answers, can be seen on the Dublin Inquirer site here.

New library for Drimnagh

Yesterday evening I visited Our Lady’s Hall to see the plans for the new library in Drimnagh. The architect was there to talk me through them – they look great!

The library will be built on the site of the old Ardscoil Eanna, Franshaw House. The house itself will be restored, and a cafe opened on the ground floor. The space in front of and behind Franshaw House will be gardens. (The west of the site, towards Rafters Road, is earmarked for housing, but the plans are not ready yet)

The library will have large children’s and adult sections – a double-height room for the children, a book gallery above for the adults. There is also an events room, a meeting room, and a conference room.

The site gets lower from Crumlin Road to Rafters Lane, so there are ramps at the Rafters Lane entrance for wheelchair/buggy access. Franshaw House itself was not designed for accessibility, and there is no space for a lift, so the first floor of the library will connect to the first floor of the house, making all areas accessible.

So when will it open? The project is going for planning permission in the next few weeks, with the expectation that permission will be granted in the autumn. At that stage, more design work has to be done on the interiors. The council could tender for people to do the work early next year, and then roughly another year to get it built. So it will most likely be early 2026. The good news is that the money has already been set aside by the council, there should be no delays there.

I live just around the corner from Walkinstown library, and it is a great community hub. It fills so many roles – parents bring their kids there, mother and toddler groups meet, school groups come in, students study, community groups hold meetings… it’s hard to overstate the importance of having a place you can spend time, without spending money, all through the day. And it’s full of books! This is going to be a great addition to Drimnagh, I can’t wait until it opens.

Vote YesYes!

We have two referendums coming up in Ireland next month, and it’s important to vote Yes in both of them…

Canvassing for a YesYes vote in Inchicore

At the moment, the constitution says:
In Article 41.1.1° “The State recognises the Family as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law.”

In Article 41.3.1°

“The State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of Marriage, on which the Family is founded, and to protect it against attack.”

The family is the fundamental unit of society, and families are based on marriage. But families aren’t all based on marriage. I know, and I’m sure you know, lots of lone-parent families, and lots of families where the parents aren’t married. According to the constitution, they aren’t families and they aren’t important.

So the proposal is two changes: Add this
“The State recognises the Family, whether founded on marriage **or on other durable relationships**, as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law.”

Delete this bit:

“The State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of Marriage, **on which the Family is founded**, and to protect it against attack.”

Why ‘durable relationships’? Why not add a definition? Because adding precise definitions to the constitution is a really bad idea. You’re guaranteed that after 6 months someone will think of a case that isn’t covered, but if it’s in the constitution we’re stuck.
The Dail can legislate, and the courts are the final arbiter (as with everything else) whether that legislation is compatible with the constitution.

The second referendum concerns these two articles:
Article 41.2.1°

“In particular, the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.”

Article 41.2.2°

“The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.”

Both to be deleted, and replaced with
“The State recognises that the provision of care, by members of a family to one another by reason of the bonds that exist among them, gives to Society a support without which the common good cannot be achieved, and shall strive to support such provision.”

Because why are we talking about the life of *women* in the home? Why are we talking about the duties of *mothers*? Do women not have a life outside the home worthy of recognition? Don’t all people have duties in the home? The provision of care, by mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles… is important and valuable, and should be recognised as such whoever carries it out.
The articles about women in the home and duties of mothers have been controversial since the constitution was first written. Women have spent decades trying to get them removed.
This change is backed by the National Womens Council, Family Carers Ireland, and Independent Living Ireland (and the other amendment by Spark, the single parent’s group).
Some people argue that the referendums are not strong enough, that if we reject them we’ll get a chance to vote on better wording. But it has taken endless committees and discussions to get this far. Reject this and no government will touch the issue again for decades. Especially since the loudest No voices are the ones saying they go *too far*, that they undermine marriage and the family and the *special place* of women.
To be blunt, it’s not this or something better. It’s this or nothing.
But this is important! Almost half the babies born in Ireland in 2022 were born outside marriage/civil partnership. Does this mean they were born outside families? Of course not! But that’s what the constitution says.
And are we really going to continue living with sexist language in the constitution about the life of women and duties of mothers in the home? Time to rip out the dead hand of John Charles McQuaid!

Community Recycling

RecycleIT is a social enterprise based in Clondalkin, that collects and recycles electrical, electronic, and metal waste. They provide employment and training, while also reclaiming material that would otherwise go to landfill or incineration.

Black and white image of different electrical goods

Earlier this year, I arranged with RecycleIT to carry out household collections in Drimnagh. Over 3 weeks, they collected material from over 1000 houses. They collected hoovers, fridges, televisions, and loads of smaller items – over 1200kg altogether. This was junk, cluttering up people’s homes, that will now be recycled. It was a big success, and I plan to organise more of these collections over the coming years.

Picking litter in Walkinstown

The Make Walkinstown Great group started at the end of the pandemic, and has been picking litter regularly since then. We meet every two weeks, alternating between Bunting Road (opposite the Kestrel) and the Green Kitchen.

We pick up huge amounts of plastic bottles and cans – let’s hope the deposit return scheme cuts out most of that. (If not, maybe I’ll be able to go professional as a litter picker!) Next on my hit list would be disposable vapes, I’m amazed how many I find dumped on the street every time, along with their boxes and wrappers.

Community Gardens

This morning I was at the Cherry Orchard Community Garden, for a talk on Planning your Winter Vegetable Growing, organised by Dublin Community Growers.

I’m a terrible gardener. I put in short bursts of activity, then do nothing for weeks. But the amazing thing is, despite my neglect, things still grow. Put a seed in the ground and a few months later you’ll have flowers, or food for your dinner – some of the time anyway.

Twenty young tomato plants in my back garden
Too many tomato plants

Community gardens are a great idea. If you don’t have the space yourself, or don’t know what to do, you can work on a joint project with your neighbours. They’re a great antidote to online life – outdoors, meeting people, working and learning together. And you end up with food, plus a very concrete understanding of your environment. There’s a new community garden opening in Crumlin, in Pearse Park – if you live nearby, maybe see if you can get involved?