Council Briefs: Growing the Guinness Enterprise Centre, and Designing the Bull Island Discovery Centre

At Tuesday’s meeting of the economic development committee, Labour Councillor Mary Freehill tried to put forward a motion – a rare thing to do at these meetings. She was foiled.

She wanted councillors to agree that CCTV be put in each floor of council-owned car parks, given how staff are gone, replaced by machines, so there are fewer eyes around and less safety.

The motion hadn’t made it onto the agenda, though. Council Assistant Chief Executive Richard Shakespeare said the issue would fall within the planning and property development committee’s remit.

Both are within his kingdom. But it would be more appropriate to discuss this particular issue at a meeting of the other committee, he said.

Or, he said, it should go to an area committee meeting – as it relates to operations rather than policy.

Freehill was frustrated and asked if she had to take the same motion to all five local area committees in the city.

“It’s about safety of people,” she said.

More than a year back, some councillors queried what the point of Dublin City Council’s economic development committee was.

Among their complaints? That much of what they tried to discuss and decide fell within the remit of other councillors at other meetings.

Growing the Guinness Enterprise Centre

The Guinness Enterprise Centre in the Liberties wants to grow by two floors, to provide more space for start-ups and small businesses.

Councillors got a super-brief update at the economic development committee meeting on Tuesday, about the council’s role.

They had already voted at their full monthly meeting that the council should give a guarantee on a loan the centre has sought of €7 million.

The building is owned by Diageo, and leased to Dublin Enterprise & Technology Centre Ltd (DETCL), which trades as the Guinness Enterprise Centre. The centre is a non-profit, and among its founders were Dublin City Council, Enterprise Ireland, and the Local Enterprise Office.

Guaranteeing the loan is “very well worthwhile”, said independent Councillor Paddy Bourke. It’s a pity there isn’t another centre, he said.

Fianna Fáil Councillor Deirdre Heney, who chairs the committee, asked if he was looking for one on the north side of the city. Bourke said yes.

“We’d like to have one of those in Coolock, please,” said Heney.

Dublin Bay UNESCO Biosphere Discovery Centre

The council has appointed a design team to draft plans for a new Discovery Centre on Bull Island, councillors learnt at the recent arts committee meeting.

The team, led by Howley Hayes Architects, have been given the task of developing plans for the project this year. They will consult with councillors and community groups, said a report from the meeting.

Bull Island became a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) biosphere in 1981 because of its rare habitats and wildlife. That award was extended to the wider Dublin Bay in 2015.

At the meeting, Damien O’Farrell, an independent councillor, said there had been some public consultation about these plans over the past couple of years. “People at those preliminary consultations certainly weren’t in favour of a four-storey building on Bull Island,” he said.

O’Farrell asked for a copy of the specifications given to the design team.

When sketches were presented to the committee in 2016, councillors broadly welcomed the design, but some voiced concerns about the building’s aesthetic.

Councillor John Lyons, who is also an independent, said it was a big project. “And I don’t think we’ve actually had a proper discussion around whether it’s a viable proposal or not. And here we see that a process has already been initiated, so we need some more information.”

Council Assistant Chief Executive Richard Shakespeare said the parks superintendent would bring a report to the next committee meeting

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Erin McGuire: Erin McGuire is a city reporter. Her stories often offer an intimate window into the lives of those we share the city with. You can reach her at [email protected]

Lois Kapila: Lois Kapila is Dublin Inquirer's editor and general assignment reporter. She covers housing and land, too. Want to share a comment or a tip? You can reach her at [email protected]

Reader responses

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Zoe Obeimhen
at 31 January 2019 at 19:32

Soo happy about the GEC expansion. My onlu issue, why grow by only 2 floors? Why not more?

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