On Remembering

Dublin needs a statue or memorial to Dr Noël Browne, agreed Dublin City Councillors on the arts committee on Monday. They backed a motion for one to be put up.

Browne was a TD for Dublin South East who reformed the Irish health service when he served as Minister for Health from 1948 to 1951.

Browne tackled widespread tuberculosis by introducing free screening, investing in vaccines and antibiotics, and got new hospitals built, according to Village Magazine.

He tried to introduce free healthcare for pregnant women, and children up to the age of 16, but his Mother and Child Scheme was met with resistance from, among others, some doctors and powerful figures in the Catholic Church.

Browne failed in that, but two years after he left office, a watered-down version was introduced.

Independents 4 Change Councillor Pat Dunne proposed the motion commemorating Brown at Monday’s meeting, in recognition of his “historical importance”.

Waterford, where Browne was born, has a communal garden but he should be commemorated in his constituency, says Dunne.

“I was surprised that there was no commemorative plaque in the city of Dublin for Dr Noël Browne,” he says, on the phone on Monday.

“He was so progressive for the time, in terms of the Mother and Child Scheme, says Dunne. “His contribution to Irish society should be acknowledged.”

Meanwhile, renaming the Royal Canal Bridge at Russell Street near Croke Park in memory of the victims of Bloody Sunday also got the nod at the arts committee.

That was proposed by independent councillors, Cieran Perry and Nial Ring.

Both proposals will next be brought before the council’s Commemorations and Naming Committee.

Banishing Glyphosate

The council should stop using the weed-killer glyphosate, said councillors on the environment committee at their recent meeting on 26 November.

In years gone by, the council relied on glyphosate to rid the city of weeds, but amid concerns that the substance is carcinogenic, the council has already cut down on its use.

Using glyphosate is quick and cheap but it’s bad for diversity, says Green Party Councillor Michael Pidgeon, who chairs the committee.

“The mass spraying of glyphosate also means that the stuff finds its way into the human body and all parts of the ecosystem,” he says.

He wanted to cement the council’s moves to phase it out, by agreeing a ban – or close to a ban – as formal policy, says Pidgeon, who co-authored a report that was agreed by the committee.

“This report copperfastens the council practice of not using glyphosate except in exceptional circumstances, such as invasive species like Japanese knotweed,” he says.

Instead, Dublin City Council parks and roads departments will employ a menu of tactics to tackle weeds, he says.

They’ve tested out hot water, foam stream, flame weeding, concentrated vinegar solutions and physically digging out weeds.

These alternative methods work well but do take more time as they have to be repeated more often than chemical weed-killers did, says Pidgeon.

Pidgeon also repeated a message that council workers have put out in the past, that it’s worth thinking more about whether the weeds need to be removed. Some do, he says, but not all.

“A big part of getting this policy formalised and written down is to act as an example to other councils and public bodies,” says Pidgeon. “If the largest local authority can wean itself off glyphosate, so can the others.”

The report will next go before the full council for a vote.

Evolutionary Architecture

The row of three-storey buildings from 6 to 8 Parkgate Street are examples of a “transitional style”, a rarely seen link in the evolution of the city’s architecture from Dutch Billy to Georgian terrace, says a recent council report.

Councillors for the Central Area agreed at their meeting last month that the three 18th century buildings near Heuston Station should be added, therefore, to the council’s record of protected structures.

These days, 7 Parkgate Street is a B&B called Tipperary House. It was built as the street “developed into one of the principal thoroughfares of the Georgian city”, the report says.

Its construction “reflects the ascent of the area stimulated by plans under the Duke of Ormond to reshape Dublin into a renaissance capital”, it says.

Number 8 “is remarkably intact retaining salient early 18th century features”, says the council report.

There are fewer than 60 examples of this transitional style in the city and few of those are unaltered, it says.

The style was once typical on the street and the fact that the three houses are together as sole survivors on the street increases their architectural significance, says the report.

A council spokesperson said that the council will kick off the process of adding them, which includes public consultation, early in 2021.

Laoise Neylon is a reporter for Dublin Inquirer. You can reach her at lneylon@dublininquirer.com.

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