Council Briefs: Covanta, Affordable Housing, and Tea Rooms

Several councillors put in emergency motions on Monday, calling on the council’s chief executive to give a full report on a recent incident at the Poolbeg waste-to-energy incinerator that left 11 people hospitalised.

They wanted assurances that it wouldn’t happen again.

At Dublin City Council’s monthly meeting at City Hall on Monday, Assistant Chief Executive Dick Brady gave a timeline of what had happened on 7 June, when some hydrated lime was released into part of the plant.

After the incident, all workers were assessed by the first-aid worker on site, he said. Eleven of them were sent to St Vincent’s Hospital, and nine of those were released. Two were kept overnight before being released.

Brady said the Health and Safety Authority had started an investigation into what happened, and so had the Environmental Protection Agency. Normal operations at the plant won’t restart until both are satisfied, he said.

Councillors took the opportunity to stress that the majority of them had voted against allowing the construction of the giant waste-to-energy incinerator in the south-east of the city. (The go-ahead was a decision for the city’s chief executive, Owen Keegan.)

“The incinerator was a disaster, is a disaster,” said Labour Councillor Dermot Lacey.

Affordable Housing?

Also at Monday’s meeting of the full council, several councillors asked Deputy Chief Executive Brendan Kenny what was going on with plans for affordable housing in the city.

Fianna Fáil’s Paul McAuliffe said that there are no solutions coming from the Department of Housing and Local Government for people who are on low incomes, but not low enough for them to access the social-housing list. “Nobody is talking about them,” he said.

Kenny said Dublin City Council hasn’t abandoned the idea of affordable-rental or affordable-mortgage models. “It’s difficult, but we haven’t given up on that,” he said.

The council will be putting forward affordable-housing schemes in Cherry Orchard and Ballymun, but it’ll have to do it alone, as there is no central government scheme in place at the moment, he said.

Tea Rooms at Merrion Square

Councillors at the South East Area committee’s meeting on Monday backed proposals for tea rooms at Merrion Square, without much discussion of the plans.

According to a report to councillors, there would be an external terrace, public toilets, and steps leading to the playground.

The architects Bucholz McEvoy have been commissioned to design “an elegant and contemporary tea rooms”, in the park, said the report.

The tearooms will sit in the north-west side, and are part of a long-discussed revamp of the park.

The outside of the tea rooms will be designed to “enhance the existing characteristics and connection with nature in the park”. The plan is to use natural materials such as stone and timber.

When plans was unveiled last year for a new pavilion to be dedicated to the Irish diaspora, not all were happy with the plans.

At the committee meeting on Monday, councillors were told that The Irish Famine Foundation board has not yet said when work might start on that.

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Laoise Neylon and Lois Kapila: Laoise Neylon is a regular contributor to Dublin Inquirer, and Lois Kapila is Dublin Inquirer's managing editor and general-assignment reporter.

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