Photo by Caroline McNally

The full Dublin City Council usually only meets on the first Monday of each month, but they held a special meeting Monday to finish a few more things before their summer recess.

Here’s some of what they talked about.

Freedom of the City

Lord Mayor Brendan Carr of Labour suggested that US President Barack Obama should get the Freedom of Dublin City after he leaves office in January.

His argument? Obama has been a role model to many as the country’s first black president.

Carr also praised Obama’s role in supporting the Northern Ireland peace process, and his work to improve relations between the US and Iran and Cuba.

But for some councillors, that wasn’t enough.

Patrick Costello of the Green Party said he opposed the US president’s drone-warfare policy, and objected on those grounds.

Costello also said he struggled to think of a single thing the president had done for Dublin city, in particular, which would merit the award.

The Workers’ Party’s Éilis Ryan called Obama “a warmonger”. Pat Dunne criticised the US president for not living up to a number of election promises.

Others, like independent councillor Ruairi McGinley, said Carr hadn’t consulted enough with them. Social Democrat Gary Gannon said he hadn’t heard of the proposal before the meeting.

In the end, the proposal was deferred until September.

(Nobody brought up Obama’s”>failure to intervene in the Garth Brooks crisis of 2014.)

O’Devaney Gardens

It’s taken years to get to this place, but councillors finally voted to demolish the four remaining tower blocks in the O’Devaney Gardens housing complex near the North Circular Road.

The conditions there haven’t been great, with concerns about the number of fires and the state of the flats where the handful of still-there residents are living.

One resident’s home was infested with wild cats, and she had to borrow a dog, said Sinn Fein Councillor Janice Boylan.

The biggest move in the plans for O’Devaney Gardens, though, was the vote on what will replace the knocked-down towers.

There should be a development with 480 housing units that are all rental accommodation under the control of the council, said a motion by Workers’ Party Councillor Éilis Ryan.

Under the motion, half of the site would be reserved for people on the housing list, while the other half would go “to households earning above the waiting list threshold, but with demonstrated housing need, and paying higher rents in line with their income”.

Councillor Ciarán Cuffe of the Green Party said he supported some of the motion, but objected because he didn’t think it would result in enough diversity in the new community.

“I think we need to have a mixture – a mixture of ages, a mixture of incomes, and a mixture of tenures,” Cuffe said.

Ultimately, both the proposal to demolish the remaining four blocks as soon as possible, and Ryan’s motion on future public housing, were passed.

Alcohol Awareness

Social Democrat Councillor Gary Gannon put forward a motion to ban public-health events and alcohol-awareness campaigns that are funded by “commercial interests” in council venues.

Drinkaware, the prominent campaign group that says it wants “an Ireland where alcohol is not misused”, is funded by Diageo, Heineken, and other drinks companies. “Campaigns like this are not genuinely constructed to reduce alcohol-related harm,” said Gannon.

After all, drinks companies have an interest in extracting as much profit as possible from the sale of alcohol, and can’t honestly oppose excessive consumption, he said. (Drinkaware’s website says, “We have clear codes to ensure that our funding source does not compromise our operational independence.”)

Gannon, whose father and brother both run pubs, said that the industry running these events would be “the equivalent of my brother’s holding an alcohol-related campaign in the pub”.

There was general support for the motion, although Naoise Ó Muirí of Fine Gael asked if the council was ever involved in alcohol-awareness campaigns to being with. There had been a campaign launch in the council’s Wood Quay venue, said Gannon.

The motion passed.

To Poster or Not to Poster

Fine Gael Councillor Paddy Smyth proposed a change to litter bye-laws to ban election posters on street furniture and lamp posts controlled by Dublin City Council.

“It’d be a stretch to find anyone outside of organised politics who is in favour of retaining these anachronistic legacies of a time gone by,” said Smyth.

But the debate made it seem kind of complicated. Sure, many councillors said they hated the stress of putting up and maintaining election posters.

Independent Paul Hand called them an “environmental nuisance”. Frank Kennedy of Fianna Fáil said he had had to put his posters up twice during the 2014 election, after an order came from party headquarters to take them down to make way for the Giro d’Italia.

But Paddy McCartan of Fine Gael said he wasn’t sure that, for local elections, voters would know there was an election on at all if there weren’t posters everywhere.

Andrew Keegan of People Before Profit said Smyth’s proposed measure would cede ground to establishment candidates and the “right-wing media”.

Perhaps there is room for compromise.

Sinn Féin’s Larry O’Toole put forward an amendment that would set out specific areas in each constituency for posters, with equal space for all.

Dermot Lacey of Labour proposed a further amendment: that the motion go to the council’s environment committee.

All these amendments passed, so it will be up to the environment committee to try to draw up a realistic new model based on the motion.

The city council’s law agent is also due to look at the motion, to see if it’s legal or not.

And Finally … the Circus

Sinn Féin’s Noeleen Reilly wanted councillors to ban circuses that use wild animals from performing on council-owned land. She pointed to the treatment of Ann the elephant in the UK to build her case.

That wasn’t here, though, said David Costello of Fianna Fáil. There isn’t evidence that Irish circuses are mistreating animals in this way, he said.

“I don’t like the implication that Irish animals have at any stage used cruel methods to tame animals,” he said.

Reilly said animals shouldn’t have to performing things which were “against their nature”. The motion was carried without a vote.

Cathal Kavanagh is currently a student at Trinity College Dublin. He has writen for a number of publications around Dublin, including GoldenPlec and H&G.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *