At a meeting of Dublin City Council’s arts committee on Monday, Leslie Moore, the head of the council’s parks service, presented a vision for a new interpretive centre for Dublin Bay.
The old interpretive centre, built in 1986, is no longer fit for purpose, he said. A new one would promote the biosphere around the island and the bay.
A feasibility study concluded that the centre should be located along the Causeway Road, sat on grassland just before Bull Island.
Bull Island was given a UNESCO biosphere designation in 1981. It’s time to highlight that better, said Moore.
Sketch designs have been drawn up for the new centre, which would be run by Dublin City Council staff and have a 360-degree view over Dublin Bay. It would house exhibition and wildlife-research spaces.
Moore has sought a Failte Ireland grant for the project, which he says will cost around €10 million. Councillors broadly welcomed the designs, but some had concerns about their aesthetic.
“At this stage, it’s very futuristic looking,” said independent Councillor Vincent Jackson. “I’m glad you mentioned that it might not be to everybody’s taste.”
Fine Gael’s Anne Feeney queried the use of materials. “Has there been any thought given to using recyclable material in terms of the build?” she asked. “Also, in terms of funding, is there any thought being given to asking corporate or universities to co-fund?”
Moore said that such issues would be resolved later. “It’s a longer-term project. It’s not going to happen this year or next year,” he said.
In June, councillors on the Arts Strategic Policy Committee voted to ban the use of backing tracks by buskers in Dublin.
At Monday’s meeting, council assistant chief executive Declan Wallace said that the new rules were working. “But we’ve had some complaints in Temple Bar about unlicensed people and amplification,” he said.
It was decided that the Street Performance Forum be reconvened to further discuss such issues. Up to now the forum has been ad hoc and unofficial.
On Monday, Labour Councillor and SPC Chair Rebecca Moynihan proposed that the forum be officially established. Councillors agreed, and chose Sinn Fein’s Greg Kelly as chair.
“This motion was deferred from planning to us,” said Moynihan. “I’m not quite sure why.”
The motion proposes that the council assess the potential of promoting Dublin as a “City of Romance”, to coincide with St Valentine’s Day next year. Some of St Valentine’s remains lie, after all, in Whitefriar Street Church on Aungier Street.
“We don’t have any strong feeling either way,” said Wallace, speaking for council management. “But there’s strong local feeling in terms of the remains of St Valentine and how that aspect of it would be brought into any sort of commercial tourism type offering in the area.”
Some seemed confused by the proposal. Labour’s Moynihan branded it a “marketing tool”. Other were kinder.
“I like talking about amore,” said Labour’s Aine Clancy. “I really support this. Paris might be a city of love, but by god Dublin’s a great little city to do love in.”
In the end, councillors decided they’d get a report back on the possibilities of the proposal.