River Liffey Swimming Pool
Councillors were divided over a proposed outdoor heated swimming pool in the River Liffey after designs were shown at the South East Area Committee meeting on Monday, which took place in City Hall.
The proposed pool would cost an estimated €15 million and would be located on the east side of the Seán O’Casey Bridge, Dublin City Council Administrative Officer for the Docklands Derek Kelly told councillors.
Proposed designs include a fresh water heated pool, accompanied by changing rooms, a café and a sauna.
This would be a Dublin City Council and Dublin Port project as the proposed swimming pool would fall under both agencies remit, Kelly said.
Neither agency would pay any of the €15 million price, instead the council would lease the project out to a private company for 30 years and then the pool would come under the control of the council subject to review, Kelly said.
Concerns were raised by councillors over who was behind the idea of building this proposed swimming pool.
This idea was raised by councillors and members of the public during the planning of the white-water rafting facility, according to the feasibility review.
However, some councillors disagreed with this .
“I don’t believe for one second that this has come because a couple of councillors have raised the idea of a public lido,” said Fine Gael Councillor James Geoghegan.
Independent Councillor Mannix Flynn said: “I do not believe for one second that Dublin City Council came up with this idea. I do believe that a consortium out there somewhere along the line suggested this to the higher executives.”
Crumlin Swimming Pool should be prioritised first before we consider building a new swimming pool, Independents4Change Councillor Pat Dunne said.
Other councillors echoed Dunne’s frustration.
“When you are proposing something like this, it essentially feels like two fingers to communities like Crumlin,” says Geoghegan.
Geoghegan asked Kelly to go back to Dublin City Council Chief Executive Owen Keegan and ask him if there is any money available to open Crumlin Swimming Pool on a full-time basis.
However, other councillors supported the proposed swimming pool.
“I like the project, I like big ideas. I think Dublin needs to have more big ideas. I think we have certainly lacked a lot of vision for the city,” said Labour Councillor Dermot Lacey.
This shouldn’t be seen as Crumlin Swimming Pool versus this big project, said Lacey.
“I am really concerned that when people raise big projects, big ideas, they tend to be shot down and that is not good for a city. We need to have a bigger vision for Dublin than we do,” said Lacey.
Green Party Councillor Claire Byrne agreed with Lacey.
“We can’t just condemn every big ambitious project that we are proposing for the city,” said Byrne.
“And sometimes we have to look for money elsewhere. Not in all cases, certainly not in our housing. But in other projects, we need to, you know, have public-private partnerships in order to deliver them,” said Byrne.
Lacey asked Kelly to provide a written response to the councillors questions.
Some Councillors Not in Favour of Moorehead Report
A motion was passed which said councillors would reject the proposed increase of €8,000, as suggested in the Moorehead Report.
The recommendations in the report would actually result in a smaller salary for councillors, Fianna Fáil Councillor Deirdre Conroy said at the South East Area Committee meeting on Monday.
The Moorehead Report, which was commissioned in 2018, aimed to give a clear definition on what a councillor’s job entails — policy making, representation and community leadership were among the definitions that the report highlighted.
The report also provided some recommendations on how to improve local authorities around the country.
And it recommended a change in the system of claiming expenses so that it is similar to the TD system. This is worth €5,100 per year with €480 on an unvouched basis for petty expenses.
“This committee would reject the proposed ‘remuneration’ of the Moorhead Report and request more adequate consideration, factual interaction and amended recommendations, without another 2 year delay,” said Fianna Fáil Councillor Deirdre Conroy in her motion.
Councillors would receive a lower wage with the recommendations, because it would result in a tax increase and more time lost listing expenses, says Conroy.
“It’s a tax increase, and an increase in time given up listing all one’s mileage, meetings, bills, post, prints, paperwork receipts for a small expenses plan. Perhaps it’s assumed that councillors have a secretary to do all this for them,” Conroy said later in an email.
Councillors’ current wage is €17,529, which means these wages fall under the lower tax bracket.
“The Moorehead reports suggests that we should work just 2.5 days per week for payment and the rest work voluntarily,” said Conroy at the meeting.
Conroy received support from other councillors present at the meeting on this motion.
“In my 28 years on the council it is probably the most offensive and ill-informed document that I have ever read,” said Labour Party Councillor Dermot Lacey.
The questions asked [in the Moorehead report] were in no way reflective of what the modern councillor does,” said Green Party Councillor Claire Byrne.
There were no questions in the report asking councillors about how much overtime they spend on social media engaging with constituents or the amount of the time councillors spend chasing the council for answers to their questions, said Byrne.
The fact that the central government conducted a report on local government was an issue raised by Lacey.
“When the opening foreword thanked the officials from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local government for helping to compile it that set my ears burning,” says Lacey.
“The department has systematically tried to dismantle local government in this country,” Lacey said.
“With this suggestion that the €25,000 would be the new pay, it actually decreases our income by over €2,500,” Conroy said.
Park Kissing Gates
Kissing gates limit access to parks for people with disabilities so the council should to phase them out and find an alternative, Green Party Councillor Carolyn Moore proposed in a motion.
Kissing gates or swing gates require someone to push the gates inwards, step to the side and around the gate and then push the gate outwards so that the person can enter the park.
“[…] they limit access in a manner which discriminates against disabled people, the elderly, or users of mobility aids,” said Moore in her motion.
An elderly woman in my constituency was not able to get access to her park during the lockdown because every entrance features a kissing gate, Moore said.
These gates are used to stop unwanted vehicles getting into parks, the report from the manager said.
“[…] structures have been placed at some park entrances in response to concerns by local people about unauthorised vehicles, quad bikes, scramblers and even speeding cyclists,” the report said.
“I don’t accept this report, I don’t think it is an acceptable response, and I wish to bring the motion again,” Moore said.