Barbecue enthusiasts can’t grill in Dublin City Council parks and, recently, Phoenix Park became off limits, too.
A spokesperson for the Office of Public Works (OPW) says it has rolled back a scheme that allowed people to cook in certain spots.
“It’s a real shame,” says Green Party Councillor Ciarán Cuffe. “It’ll be a real disappointment, particularly to a lot of immigrants for whom barbecuing is second nature.”
A Long Pilot
In 2010, the OPW let people barbecue at different sites around Phoenix Park.
But they’ve put an end to that because of “issues of fire safety and public health and safety,” said an OPW spokesperson, by email.
There was a lot of litter and “other materials”, said the spokesperson. Some barbecuers’ fires also damaged the grounds and park benches.
“The OPW asks the public to continue to use the Phoenix Park in a responsible manner and in accordance with the Park Bye-Laws,” the spokesperson said.
Cuffe said he had seen some picnic tables damaged from disposable barbecues placed on them. “But I think it’s nothing that a bit of advice and a sign couldn’t overcome.”
He sees the ban as an overreaction. The OPW just needs better engagement, he says. It “needs to try harder to improve consultation and partnership with the communities they serve”.
Sinn Féin Councillor Séamas McGrattan says that over the coming months he plans to try to improve communication between the OPW and community groups.
Even as a public representative, McGrattan feels that the OPW leaves him out of the loop when they’re co-ordinating large events, for example.
A liaison committee might help fix that, he says. “They’re very hard to deal with as a public representative.”
Banning outdoor barbecues would be a prime example of when there should have been more discussion with the public, he says.
Independent Councillor Vincent Jackson says the OPW should have promoted its barbecue spots more. “The more people you have going into parks for the right reasons, you counteract the negativity in our open spaces,” he said.
There’s a “heavy-handed” approach to public spaces across the city, says Labour Councillor Dermot Lacey.
And there are issues around who is responsible and accountable. If issues come up in council parks, local councillors can speak up.
“Who do you get on to when something goes wrong in an OPW park?” says Lacey.
The council doesn’t set aside areas for barbecues in its parks either, says a council spokesperson.
In the summer months, though, staff often have to clean up after outdoor grilling, they said. Portable barbecues “are brought by people onto the beaches in particular and these are cleaned up and disposed of by Dublin City Council staff”.
Fingal County Council allows barbecues in both Malahide Castle grounds and Newbridge House grounds, says a spokesperson.
Councillor Jackson plans to push for Dublin City Council to roll back its ban on outdoor barbecues in its own parks. “Why can’t we consider facilitating barbecues?” he says.
With additional reporting by Zuzia Whelan