Council Briefs: George’s Dock Post-Whitewater Rafting, a Leak of Councillors’ Data, and the New Poo Committee

George’s Dock, What Next?

At the February monthly meeting of the full Dublin City Council on Monday, independent Councillor John Lyons proposed a motion to “democratise” the decision-making on what to do with the site on George’s Dock where councillors had previously voted to put a whitewater rafting facility.

Lyons, one of the 19 councillors who voted against the project at the time, said that now that that proposal has fizzled, it’s time to decide an alternative.

He suggested establishing a working group, to do a public consultation, so it wasn’t just decided by council managers and councillors, he said, but opened up “to the wider public to decide on the future development of the George’s Dock area”.

Derek Kelly, the council’s executive manager for the Docklands area, though, opposed this idea. There’s no need for a new working group, since there’s already the Docklands Oversight and Consultative Forum, a body appointed by the housing minister to advise the council, he said.

Its 21 members include an independent chairperson, the council’s chief executive, four councillors, five people “engaged in community development”, five people “engaged in economic activity”, one person from “an educational organisation” and five members “from public authorities”.

When Kelly gave a presentation there on 14 May 2018 on the idea of a “the DCC proposal for a White Water Rafting Course, Swift Water Rescue Training Facility and Kayaking/Water Polo Pool at George’s Dock”, “The members were very interested and positive”, minutes show.

When he presented an update on 9 September 2019, “The member’s present requested the Forum support the project and look to have it as the Forum official position”, the minutes show.

Is that forum structured in such a way that we could do a public consultation like what was done on Capel Street pedestrianisation? Lyons asked, at Monday’s meeting of Dublin City Council.

“I believe so,” Kelly said. “It’s a very wide ranging of representation” on the committee. “I do believe it’s more than sufficient to be able to do what’s being asked, and have a wide ranging enough input directly from the people who live work and visit the docklands, it’s all represented there.”

Labour Councillor Joe Costello said he was a member of the forum. “If this is referred to that group, I think that group can certainly do a reasonably good job on that.”

Councillors agreed to support sending Lyons’ proposal for a public consultation to the forum.

Tech Security and Privacy

Personal information has been mistakenly shared across the network of iPads provided by the council to Dublin city councillors.

Sinn Féin Councillor Micheál Mac Donncha raised the issue at a recent meeting of the councillors’ protocol committee, he said at Monday’s full council meeting.

On Tuesday morning, on the phone, Mac Donncha said that he had seen photographs, and notes, that belonged to other councillors, appearing on his iPad. “There was nothing compromising or nothing confidential or anything like that.”

Independent Councillor Mannix Flynn, also speaking by phone on Tuesday, said the issue was “other people’s personal photographs appearing on other people’s iPads”.

They weren’t inappropriate photos or anything like that, Flynn said, “just private material, family photographs and all that”.

At Monday’s meeting, where Flynn raised the issue, he asked council managers what they intended to do to stop this from happening in future.

“This is not the first time this has happened,” he said. Was the Data Protection Commissioner going to investigate?

Ruth Dowling, a council senior executive officer and the meeting administrator, responded to him that “an investigation is underway and once the investigation is completed we will be issuing a report”.

Said Mac Donncha: “I am satisfied, as far as I am concerned, that it is being dealt with. I can understand how it might have occurred and I don’t have a major issue.”

Poo Committee to Start Work

At Monday’s meeting, councillors also discussed the problem of all the dog poo littering the city’s footpaths.

There was cross-party agreement that dog poo, always a problem, has become more of an issue in the last couple years during the pandemic. What to do?

In March of last year, at a meeting of the council’s environment committee, Green Party Councillor Claire Byrne had proposed setting up a working group to spend six months putting together a report outlining possible solutions, which they could then forward to “the relevant minister to see what action can be taken”.

The environment committee supported the idea, and Byrne said at Monday’s monthly meeting of the full council, that the new poo committee is “due to have its first meeting very soon”.

She said she hopes it will “bring together best practice solutions from other countries all over the world to see what we can trial or put into place here”.

“It’s very hard to walk around anywhere in the city, particularly with the buggy, and having to dodge it,” she’d said when proposing the working group back in March. “This is an issue that affects everybody in every part of the city.”

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Sam Tranum: Sam Tranum is co-founder of Dublin Inquirer. You can reach him at [email protected]

Reader responses

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Pat Coyne
at 12 February at 16:08

The way councils might tackle littering is to encourage residents in small areas to record people littering and upload those videos onto social media platforms. GDPR prevents local authorities from using images of people littering captured on CCTV as evidence in the District Courts. A person presenting photographic images as evidence in court must verify the images used in a civil case meet the balance of probabilities standard. However, videos multiple people upload to social media become common knowledge and would be up to the accused to prove them false. The local authorities could bring charges against individuals from the same area on the same day and notify the relevant residents' associations when hearings of multiple littering offences in their (500m) neighbourhoods are due before the judge. In addition, a person could attend court on behalf of all the residents' groups to note the judgements and upload them to social media.

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