It was July last year when Dublin Mayor Brendan Carr first suggested that former US President Barack Obama should be awarded the freedom of the city of Dublin.
At Monday’s monthly meeting of the full Dublin City Council, he put the idea forward again – this time adding that it should go to Michelle Obama too. They’d promoted justice and progressive change, Carr argued.
“I am not proposing that we canonize the Obamas,” he said. He just want to recognise their success.
While councillors voted to take the motion without debate, some of the far-left were determined to voice their opposition – with Michael O’Brien of the Anti-Austerity Alliance shouting over the mayor to highlight the hundreds of civilians who have been killed in Obama’s drone wars.
In the end, the motion passed, 30 in favour and 26 against, with councillors within most parties voting different ways.
Walk Back In
Several councillors across parties put their names to a motion calling on Dublin City Council management to rejoin talks with the city’s ambulance forum, which is made up of council management, Dublin Fire Brigade management, and fire brigade representatives from the unions SIPTU and IMPACT.
It’s the latest move in a long-running disagreement over how the fire brigade should be operated, and, in particular, whether Dublin Fire Brigade Emergency Medical Services’ (DFBMS’) call-taking and dispatch service should be transferred to the National Ambulance Service in Tallaght.
Labour Councillor Alison Gilliland told those in the chamber at City Hall that Dublin City Council management had been presented with an expert report that DFBMS’ service is effective and that there is a technical solution to current shortcomings – but that after getting that report, they walked out of the forum.
“The committee asked the manager to reengage with the ambulance forum, and he refused,” said Gilliland. “This is not good enough.”
Said Noeleen Reilly of Sinn Fein: “That’s what we have experts for (…) Just to completely ignore their findings altogether is really wrong.” Other councillors backed the call for managers to return to the table.
Dublin City Council CEO Owen Keegan said that the unions had served them with a notice to ballot before the council walked out of the forum. “Let’s be absolutely clear about that,” he said.
But he gave no indication of what council management’s next step will be. “I said I will respond in detail to all these issues at the appropriate time,” said Keegan.
Railing Against Railings
If the plan to create a new plaza on College Green goes ahead, then Dublin City Council and Bank of Ireland should discuss getting rid of the railings around the Bank of Ireland, says Independents 4 Change Councillor Pat Dunne.
He put forward a motion to that effect – after amending it slightly to allow for the railings to be perhaps moved, rather than removed completely.
The railings may be nice, but, as he sees it, the architecture would be improved if there was a more open open-space in front of the bank, which was once the parliament.
At first, most councillors said they agreed with the motion. Fine Gael’s Kieran Binchy said he backed it, and would even go further, calling – as some had at the time of the bank bailout – for the government to take back the historical building.
“They remind me of jail cells,” Sinn Fein’s Anthony Connaghan said of the railings.
But Green Party Councillor Ciaran Cuffe had a different opinion. The old railings and decorative wrought iron complement the buildings and are protective too, so they shouldn’t be removed, he said. “It often opens up beautiful stone buildings to graffiti attack.”
Perhaps there might be another option, suggested Fianna Fail’s Paul McAuliffe. If the aim is to give easier access to the public, perhaps the council could just work towards using the space more – as had been done recently with local enterprise markets. “We could achieve the same aim,” he said.
Despite these arguments, Dunne’s motion passed, with 32 councillors in favour, and 7 against.