Photo by Caroline Brady

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Usually, Dublin city councillors have their monthly meetings on a Monday evening, kicking off proceedings at City Hall at a little past 6pm.

For this Monday’s meeting, though, the first after after the summer break, they met instead in the early afternoon, and wrapped up at 4.30pm sharp.

That way, they could get across to the Mansion House for a reception to welcome Dublin’s victorious GAA team after its win against Tyrone.

Here’s some of what they discussed, before they adjourned.

Sewage Treatment Facilities

At this month’s meeting of the full Dublin city council, councillors talked about two sewage-related proposals in a new council report.

The first was for changes to the Ringsend Treatment Plant, including “the provision of a Sludge Pasteurisation Building and a Phosphorus Recovery Building”.

Some wanted to add caveats to that report. The land earmarked to service building works for the plant overlaps with that zoned by councillors for other, “creative” uses.

Nearly a year ago, the council voted to zone part of the land in the Poolbeg-West SDZ to “accommodate a range of uses, including creative uses that would facilitate alternative economic uses such as the building of Dublin Bay Studios”, said an amendment from Green Party Councillor Claire Byrne.

Byrne asked that the temporary use of the land to service the building works doesn’t affect that.

Also, Dublin Port Company repeatedly stated during the SDZ process that this land was of significant importance to their own operations. Both organisations have made written appeals to An Bord Pleanála in this regard, says the amendment.

“Now it seems that Irish Water will lease the land for 10 years to facilitate the upgrade,” said Byrne, who wants an alternative site to be considered for the upgrade works. “We had an agreement on the zoning of that site, and to override that is an absolute slight on democracy.”

The second sewage-related proposal in the report was for the creation of a new “regional biosolids storage facility” on North Road in Dublin 11. “Biosolids” are organic matter recycled from sewage.

That facility won’t be “as bad as” Ringsend because the technology and infrastructure have improved since then, and there is a need for another facility, since Ringsend is reaching full capacity, said independent Councillor Ruairi McGinley.

Councillors at the meeting agreed to the report, and Byrne’s amendment.

Up the List

Councillors voted to put several buildings on the record of protected structures: a row on Thomas Street, a former townhouse on Abbey Street Middle, a cemetery on Whitworth Road, and a former warehouse on Meeting House Lane.

Labour’s Dermot Lacey said that at local area committee meetings, when councillors put forward buildings to be protected, they’re alerted to a long backlog of cases. He asked how these buildings had gotten to this stage. “Why aren’t dozens of other buildings on it?” asked Labour Councillor Dermot Lacey.

He didn’t object to those going on. “But I have a higher preference in my mind for about another 50,” he said. “So who’s choosing this and how are they being chosen?”

Chief Planner John O’Hara said they had been prioritised as research showed the buildings on Thomas Street and Whitworth Road were from a lot earlier than they had thought before. From the 17th century and early 18th century, he said.

He said that the former townhouse at 58 Abbey Street Middle is one of the few buildings from the 18th century left in that street. Much of the street was demolished in the 1916 Rising and later, he said.

The council is reorganising how it prioritises the protection of buildings at the moment, he said.

Mayor of Dublin

Also at Monday’s meeting, Lord Mayor Nial Ring expressed his support for the creation of a directly elected mayor for the four local authorities in County Dublin.

The issue has been a long-running one. It came up at the meeting after the Independent reported that the national government was set to give Cork a directly elected mayor, not Dublin.

“I was concerned, but not surprised, to read recent media reports that plans were to be brought to the cabinet to allow Cork to be the first city to have a directly elected mayor,” said Ring, an independent councillor.

“Dublin urgently needs a single strong voice, and strong leadership,” Ring said, and asked councillors for their approval to write to Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy to ask that Dublin be the first region to have a directly elected mayor.

The councillors agreed.

St Michael’s Estate

There will be a presentation on “cost-rental” accommodation at this Thursday’s housing committee meeting, said Sinn Féin Councillor Daithí Doolan, head of that committee.

This is part of a debate over what to do with 12 acres of council-owned land at St Michael’s Estate in Inchicore. There have been a series of competing proposals.

“I need to clarify there’s a[draft proposal] ( to develop St Michael’s Estate with Dublin City Council, and we’ll be getting funding; the draft is 30 per cent social, 70 per cent cost rental and a socio-economic development in the area,” said Doolan.

A cost-rental model is a type of affordable-housing scheme where rents are based on the costs of the homes, rather than set at market rates. (Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has been planning such a project on a site near Sandyford.)

“Unfortunately, a Minister in the area has decided to lead a charge against this development,” said Doolan.

Local Fine Gael TD Catherine Byrne has said that “the proposed plan is the wrong one for Inchicore”. The council and the housing minister “must listen to the voices of all those who care about Inchicore and want a sustainable community”, she said.

Doolan called on Byrne to withdraw her statements regarding the plans for St Michael’s Estate, and to engage with the consultation process.

“It was the community at St Michael’s Estate that lead the charge on what’s in the proposals,” said People Before Profit Alliance Councillor Tina MacVeigh.

Zuzia Whelan

Zuzia Whelan is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer.

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