Council Briefs: Luke Kelly Statues, New Bridges, and Changes at Wilton Terrace

There’s a date set for the installation and unveiling of two Luke Kelly statues in the city, Dublin City Council Public Arts Manager Rúairí Ó Cuiv told members of the council’s Central Area Committee meeting on Tuesday morning.

The statue commissioned by the council, by artist Vera Klute, is still en route from Italy, however. The truck carrying it broke down on Monday. “This isn’t completely finished. The next stage is to install the metal hair and the metal beard,” said Ó Cuiv.

The council have employed BA Steel on Prussia Street to do this, he said. The statue will be installed at Luke Kelly Park in the Docklands, near Sheriff Street, where Kelly was born.

“We’re aiming for an installation in mid-January, with the unveiling to take place on the 30th of January, which is the anniversary of Luke Kelly’s death,” Ó’Cuiv said.

There are plans to unveil the second Luke Kelly statue on the same day. This one, by artist James Coll, was donated by Drumcondra local Gerry Hunt. The plan is to put it at the top of South King Street, near the old Mercer’s Hospital.

Musical events are planned for both launches, said Ó Cuiv.

Two New Bridges on the Royal Canal

Plans for two new lightweight steel bridges at the mouth of the Royal Canal have just gone through a public consultation, council planner Sean Flahavin, and engineer Seamus Doran, told members of the committee at Tuesday’s meeting.

One bridge would be for pedestrians, and the other for cyclists.

“It is a bit of a pinch point along that pedestrian-cycle route there,” he said. The next step is the chief executive’s report on the project, after which they hope to take it to councillors’ January monthly meeting, he said.

Green Party Councillor Ciarán Cuffe, who chairs the council’s transport committee, said he wanted a full set of drawings for the intersection of Guild Street and the north quays before the report.

“Currently it’s a mess in terms of pedestrian, cycling and vehicular conflicts, and I think it should be an integral part of this part VIII, that we are presented with a full drawing for how cycling, pedestrian and vehicular movements are handled at the north side of this bridge,” said Cuffe.

Looking back, it’s “curious that the Samuel Beckett Bridge didn’t resolve those conflicts” when it was built, said Cuffe. He asked that Flahavin and Doran come back with proposals on how those conflicts could be handled.

The project doesn’t include the area mentioned by Cuffe, said Flahavin, so right now, they can only work with what’s included in that, said Flahavin.

There would also be subsequent public consultations proposed, as part of the process, towards resolving the issue, he said. “At this moment in time, we’re concentrating on this bridge, and removing this pinch point, and we haven’t looked at other issues really,” he said.

Cuffe criticised what he called a lack of joined-up thinking.

The plan is for phase two of the proposed Royal Canal Cycle Route, and the eventual Liffey Cycle route, to feed into this junction, said Doran.

He said he has asked the National Transport Authority (NTA) if they could extend the bridge project’s boundary to deal with the junction, but was told it was already being dealt with.

Cuffe asked that Dublin City Council Assistant Chief Executive Dick Brady, the council’s transport head, ensure a coordinated approach, with the three separate projects for traffic-management at the junction.

“There are far too many examples around the city of beautiful cycle lanes that end in lamp posts, in brick walls, in traffic junctions, and we have to think beyond the parameters of contractual and legal boundaries,” Cuffe said.

There will have to be a detailed coordination of all these projects, and this part VIII is just the first step, said Flahavin. That will be the ideal time for a tying together of these projects, he said.

The cost of the two bridges is estimated at about €600,000, funded by the NTA.

Wilton Terrace

The “property fund” IPUT wants to demolish student accommodation and offices at Wilton Terrace, and building a new seven-storey office block, with a retail and food-and-beverage space on the ground floor.

At Monday’s meeting of the council’s South East Area Committee, councillors heard an overview of IPUT’s planning application, from South East Area planner Garrett Hughes.

This also includes the pedestrianisation of Wilton Terrace, as well as changes to the privately owned green space nearby.

Green Party Councillor Claire Byrne said local residents have expressed concerns about the proposal, and particularly the vision for the park.

“It’s a very significant change to the existing park: the felling of trees, planting trees outside of it,” she said. The application also proposes the construction of a new tea pavilion in the park, which would mean moving an existing fountain to a new location.

Fianna Fáil Councillor Frank Kennedy said it was unclear who owns the park. Labour Councillor Mary Freehill asked for evidence of who owns it. (The planning application says IPUT owns it.)

Labour’s Dermot Lacey called the application “arrogant”, and, along with Byrne, questioned its compliance with the city’s development plan, in terms of height and density. As did Kennedy. “If a proposal is not compliant, it should not proceed,” he said.

There are 22 homes in the existing building, but its proposed replacement wouldn’t include any housing, something Byrne and other councillors also criticized. Freehill said it was “worrying” that the 22 homes would disappear.

Byrne said the project would bring a massive physical and social change to the area. “There’s issues around access to that building,” says Byrne, and she is concerned that pedestrianising Wilton Terrace will essentially privatise it.

New Defibrillator Stalled in Stoneybatter?

Last month Central Area councillors allocated €5,000 of their discretionary funding to have a new defibrillator installed in an old cream and green Telecom Éireann phone box in Stoneybatter, off Manor Street.

But the council has been having trouble arranging a power supply for it. “We have now met an absolute no-go to the power supply to it,” said Sinn Féin Councillor Janice Boylan.

“All we need is a supply to power the light and the keypad, because the defibrillator is powered by battery,” Boylan said.

Boylan said that Seamus McSweeney of the city’s lighting department told her the equipment would need permission from ESB.

The council have not yet sought permission from the ESB, but a press spokesperson for the ESB said that, as the defibrillator would be installed in a phone box, the ESB were not responsible for it, and it was a matter for Éir, or for the city’s lighting department.

The defibrillator would cost between €200 and €400, Boylan said. It’s unclear what the rest of the €5,000 would be for.

Until a power supply can be secured by the ESB, Boylan says she will be asking local businesses if they can help supply power to the new defibrillator.

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Zuzia Whelan: Zuzia Whelan is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer.

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