Council Briefs: The Future of Phoenix Park, the Arts After Covid, and a Raheny Clubhouse

The Future of Phoenix Park

Dubliners have until 12 March to take a look at plans for changes to how people get to, and around, Phoenix Park – and to tell the Office of Public Works (OPW) what they think.

Most people travelling to the park do so by car, says an OPW report published last December, which looked at different options for how to protect the park and encourage sustainable transport.

Three-quarters of people who drive through the park in the morning are commuting elsewhere, the report said.

Illegal parking is also a problem, it said, as are poor cycling and walking infrastructure at the park gates.

Some of the solutions suggested in the report include building an extra 14km of cycle track in the Phoenix Park and upgrading 7.2km of footpaths.

The OPW proposes a new bus route to bring people to big attractions such as Dublin Zoo. The proposed route would join Heuston Station and Broombridge Station and feed into the wider Bus Connects network.

To deter traffic, the OPW plans to install several new cul-de-sacs. (Their proposed locations are the dark yellow lines cutting across roads on the map below – one in the north and three in the south of the park.)

Cars would be further restricted by the plan to make Cabra Gate accessible by bus only and Ashtown Gate entry-only.

Map from the Phoenix Park Transport and Mobility Options Study.

“I really welcome a lot of the initiatives that are going to improve the park,” Green Party Councillor Janet Horner said at a meeting of the council’s Central Area Committee on Tuesday, when OPW officials presented their proposal.

Councillors had some lingering concerns.

The Ashtown Gate entrance is an accident waiting to happen for both vehicles and pedestrians, said Sinn Féin Councillor Séamas McGrattan.

The pedestrian path going from Castleknock to the Phoenix Park cuts off before it reaches the park entrance, McGrattan said. “It stops just dead at a junction, which is a four-arm junction. It’s lethal.”

Fine Gael Councillor Ray McAdam said: “I think sooner or later, you’re going to have a very serious accident on our hands. And the last thing I want is first for some of us to be able to say I told you so.”

McGrattan said he was also worried that stopping vehicles parking in Phoenix Park would mean more on the streets around. “That’s a concern.”

Margaret Gormley, the OPW’s chief park superintendent, said they have to experiment with solutions to that.

“That may be park-and-ride, that may be designated parking in particular locations. We do not want a spillover to the surrounding locations,” she said.

The Arts After Covid

Dublin City Councillors voted on Monday to set up a subcommittee to focus on recovery for arts and culture in the city.

“The goal of the group will be to establish a strategy for reopening the city for culture,” said Social Democrats Councillor Cat O’Driscoll, who put forward the idea at a meeting of the council’s arts committee.

It would look at a strategy for reopening the city, programming events and engaging with safety officers, said O’Driscoll. That strategy could then be approved by the full council, she said.

The subcommittee would last for six months, and include councillors and other interested parties, O’Driscoll said.

How to define its remit, and how it might overlap with other council committees, was a source of debate.

“It would be great to have a wider involvement,” said Ross Keane, director of the Irish Film Institute, who sits on the council’s existing arts committee.

If any sort of group is working in a vacuum, it will only go so far, Keane said.

O’Driscoll said she’d be happy to talk to other committee chairs to keep all involved. “But I also don’t want culture to get lost in a wider conversation.”

Sinn Féin Councillor Micheál MacDonncha asked if sport would be included. “I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t cover it,” he said.

O’Driscoll said the group could decide that once it’s set up.

Next, O’Driscoll said she would draft terms of reference and put that to the corporate policy group, a smaller group of councillors who meet to discuss and agree some of the technical ins-and-outs of councillors’ work.

In Raheny

Raheny Shamrock Athletic Club may get a new clubhouse.

On Monday, councillors on the North Central Area Committee unanimously backed plans to transfer land at All Saints Park in Raheny to the club so it can build one.

The athletics club has 600 members, among them Olympians, but the club’s facilities don’t match up.

“The club was founded in 1958,” said Dick Hooper of Raheny Shamrock Athletic Club.

Many homes in Raheny were built around the same time, he says and the GAA club there was also established that year.

The current clubhouse is an old building, a former school house, he said. It’s “totally inadequate”, so a lot of people tog-out in their cars.

Their current building is not suitable for children, has limited facilities and “it is really a hazard more than a clubhouse”, said Hooper.

The plan is to build a 6,000-square-foot facility including a sports hall and a gym, separate male and female changing facilities with showers and toilets, as well as an office, a meeting room, kitchens and storage facilities.

“We need a social space as much as we need a facility,” said Hooper. The club would finance the building itself, he said.

Councillors welcomed the proposal and thanked the club for their contribution to the community.

“Raheny Shamrocks has real heft and muscle nationally,” said Fine Gael Councillor Naoise Ó Muirí. “This proposed location roots them in the community right next to the soccer club and across from the GAA club and next to St Anne’s Park.”

Fianna Fáil Councillor Tom Brabazon said the amount of money that the club raises for the local hospice through its fundraising runs “is just phenomenal”.

The final decision on whether to transfer the 0.3 acre site will come to the full council in the future for a final vote. The club will also need to apply for planning permission.

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Authors:

Laoise Neylon: Laoise Neylon is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer. You can reach her at [email protected]

Donal Corrigan: Donal Corrigan is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer. He covers transport, and the southside. To get in contact with him, you can email him on [email protected]

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