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A few weeks ago, the council installed a fence between the homes on Gortbeg Drive in Finglas South, and the nearby main roads.

Before, the trip from the homes at the end of this cul-de-sac to the park or bus stop was a no-minute walk across a strip of grass and then across a road.

Now, it’s about a five-minute walk along the footpaths, past well-kept gardens and neat houses, out onto St Helena’s Road and back down to the other side of the new fence.

Five minutes is not a long walk, says John Redmond of the Lakeglen Residents’ Association.

The area has a history of serious crime, as well as more petty stuff like kids kicking over bins and egging houses, Redmond says.

There used to be 15 ways in and out of the estate and over the years residents have winnowed those down now to just one. And any inconvenience that creates is worth the increase in peace and safety, Redmond says.

“As a resident down here of 50 years, I’m quite happy to walk around, into the park, whether I have my grandchildren or not,” he said.

Yes, it’s only a five-minute walk for an able-bodied young adult, but it’s a move in the wrong direction, says Simon Boyne, who lives in Finglas East.

It’s just one fence and just a short walk, says Boyne. But “all these just-one-more-fences are like death by 1,000 cuts”.

“We’re trying to encourage walkability and cycling etc. and this just means that more and more journeys become longer,” he says.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) says best practice is that “closures of existing connecting links should be the exception rather than the rule”.

But “in cases where exceptional circumstances apply and all measures to overcome the issues have been exhausted, it may be accepted that a right-of-way is shut down”, it says.

The Burbs

On the sunny afternoon of Tuesday 16 May, a man, a woman and a toddler were making their way together slowly from inside the estate towards the exit.

From where they were standing, the green expanse of Tolka Valley Park was visible. A stone’s throw away for someone with a good arm.

Within the park, there’s a sports pitch and changing rooms, a playground, and wide expanses of grass criss-crossed with paths. Further in, the Tolka River burbles along, tree branches hanging low over it, wildflowers growing alongside it.

But between this family and the playground are two fences: the one separating Gortbeg Drive from Tolka Valley Road, and the one on the other side of that road, separating it from the park. The first has no gate, no way through, and the second has kissing gates.

To get to the park, they’d have to go up Gortbeg Road, out Gortmore Road, turn right onto St Helena’s Drive and walk down towards the park that way.

Along the way, they’d pass two sets of steps up from the footpath along St Helena’s Road towards Gortbeg Avenue. But the steps end at a fence, and there’s no way through.

Then it’s past the new fence at the end of Gortbeg Drive, past the bus stop to the left on Tolka Valley Road, where the 40 bus into town passes by frequently, and across the road to the park.

The Bad Old Days

“There’s wonderful, wonderful people out here,” says Redmond, of the Lakeglen Residents Association. “But we’ve been through some ups and downs.”

He tells stories of crime and drugs and violence and intimidation in the 1970s and ’80s, particularly in “The Valley” between Lakeglen Estate and a neighbouring estate.

“Burnt out cars, you name it, drugs, you name it. The guards couldn’t control it, the community couldn’t control it,” he says.

“We had to get out and demonstrate when these drug dealers were down at the end of our road and stand in front of them and try to shame them away and move them on somewhere else,” he says.

Sinn Féin Councillor Anthony Connaghan says there were gangs operating in the area years ago, “a long time before my time”. “There was a lot of trouble”, he says.

The gangs “would have went through the estate just going to other parts of Finglas South and they would have been breaking into cars, you know, they could have been stealing cars, they could have been casing houses, anything basically”, he says.

The New Fence

Because of all the crime, residents asked for the estate to be fenced off from surrounding areas, Connaghan says.

“One section of it was left out because a few residents objected, so they left that corner clear,” he says, leaving the route out the end of Gortbeg Drive onto Tolka Valley Road.

In more recent years, “there has been more antisocial behavior”, Connolly says, “scrambler bikes have been going through”.

“There’s a couple of elderly people and there’s one man whose wife would be very sick, they were at the coalface of getting scramblers driving up to their house or being egged,” he said.

Says Fianna Fáil Councillor Keith Connolly: “There are wheelie bins being robbed, houses being egged, stones being thrown at their windows.”

So residents have been asking for this new stretch of fence to be put in to close off that route through the estate to the main road and the park, says Connaghan.

Says Redmond, of the residents association: “There comes a point, in our lives, especially when you’re older, like me and people in their 80s, who are – I’m not saying on our last legs, but we’re trying to have a little bit of peace in our lives, that’s what we’re trying to do.”

“I’d love for that plinth wall and railing [the fence] not to be there, to be honest with you,” he says. “But it’s a necessity.”

View from Gortbeg Drive towards Tolka Valley Park.
Tolka Valley Park.

Moving in the Wrong Direction

Boyne, however, who lives up the way and passes by on his bike regularly on the way to drop his kid to a childminder’s, questions whether the fences really are a necessity.

“I mean, has the decades of fencing solved the anti-social behavior?” he asks.

“Well, clearly not because we’re now still here and we’re still putting up fences and the kids that were kicking over bins will go and kick bins over somewhere else,” he says.

So if fences aren’t the answer, what is? “I mean, primarily, it’s a Garda issue right? If there’s anti-social behavior, then we should have sufficient Gardaí to deal with the issue right?” Boyne says.

If kids are causing trouble in part because they don’t have enough to do, making it harder for them to get to the local park “is not really going to help them have more to do right?” he says.

Connolly, the Fianna Fáil councillor, says the council looked at various options, including leaving a gate in the fence for people to walk through.

But after consulting with local residents, they decided to go with the complete, tall, closed fence, he said.

Connaghan, the Sinn Féin councillor, said: “Ideally, we’d love to see no fences, but unfortunately, practically and realistically, for people that live in those areas that have been tormented, the fences are a godsend,” he says.

“It may be an extra few minutes for people if they’re going to get the bus or access the park, but you’re going to have to weigh it up,” he says.

That few extra minutes can have significant impacts, says a 2015 document from the NTA called “Permeability: Best Practice Guide”.

Closing links like this one encourages people to drive more, rather than walking or cycling, which costs more, and leads to increases in congestion, pollution, and carbon-emissions.

It can also undermine the viability of public transport routes in the area, as fewer people use them, leading to service being cut back, the NTA guide says.

“This would have the most severe effects on those that require public transport the most – those who do not own a car, cannot drive for medical reasons, or are otherwise mobility impaired,” it says.

And, in places where there are local shops, it undermines their ability to keep trading, it says. Once someone gets in their car to go get what they need, they might well go to a bigger shop further out instead.

“A single closure may not appear to have these impacts but the cumulative effects of several closures can be significant on a district-wide level,” the guide says.

Different Areas, Different Solutions?

Is it possible that some of the policies the NTA and the council are promoting in Dublin – such as keeping and opening up more walking and cycling routes – just aren’t really going to work well in areas suffering from visible crime and anti-social behaviour?

Redmond says he supports more walking and cycling, and taking better care of the environment – and he’d think other people in Lakeglen do too. “But come and live in Finglas South,” he says.

Independent Councillor Sophie Nicoullaud, who has a master’s in town planning, and represents Ballyfermot-Drimnagh, says different areas of the city are geographically and socially different and should be treated as such.

That’s why it’s important that the council’s active travel team make an effort “to have a really holistic approach with engineers, with proper urbanists and geographers and social workers to look at it and how we can do it for each area”, she says.

“It’s important to consult with local residents, they’re the ones who know the area the most,” she says. “It’s not somebody in an office in the city centre that can solve all the problems.”

It can be a real challenge making some suburban areas better for walking, Nicoullaud says.

“It’s a flaw from the beginning: those estates were built around cars anyway,” she says.

“And now that’s what we are left with to deal with today, in an era where we moving away from that we’re doing the opposite, so how do we go about it?”

As for what to do at Lakeglen, with the fences and all, she says she doesn’t know the specifics of the situation, but crime and anti-social behaviour generally have deeper roots than whether a walking route is open or closed.

“So trying to find out what’s the situation and you know, and to accept as well if there’s drug issues, well having a nice laneway or no laneway would not have solved the drug issue, you know, or anti-social behavior,” she says.

Join the Conversation


  1. There’s two bigger picture issues at play here.
    Under-policing in these areas is part and parcel with the current housing and cost of living crisis, as there simply aren’t enough Gardaí joining and available to ‘walk a beat’ in these areas.
    It should also be made clear that Gardaí are, for better or worse, not pursuing strong sanctions against anti-social behaviour carried out by those under 18. This comports with national strategies around anti-social behaviour by children, that the ultimate goal should be keeping youth out of the criminal justice system, even at the cost of local objections.
    There are real trade-offs to be made there and I wonder how many advocates of walkable cities are at risk of becoming criminal justice hawks. From an urbanism and walkability perspective, its worth comparing with the difficulties incentivising cycling in Dublin given the rate of bike theft.

  2. As a resident of Lakeglen I think this was a great idea the people who live outside the estate should not even have an opinion as it does not effect their everyday life

    1. Mary people living in the Estate were were not consulted, this affected all residents not just those in favour. Disabled and older people were not considered on fact they were completely ignored.

  3. I lived in Lakeglen in the 8O’s.It was a fantastic little estate, I moved out for work reasons.The residents are to be commended for all their hard work and I wish them all the best.

  4. Why is a man from finglas East getting to comment on this fence in Finglas South? It doesn’t affect him and he doesn’t or hasn’t had to put up with the stuff these people have had to for years.

    He’d have a different view if it happened to him often enough. And as for NTA commenting, ridiculous, it’s a simple enough walk. Right everyone may not be able bodied, as one person said in the article, but if thats the case the green space where the fence went won’t impact them if they had other means of getting from one place to another.

  5. The majority in the estate and on that road WANT THE FENCE. Why is someone who doesn’t live in the estate giving an opinion. The fencing in has worked wonders and radically reduced anti social behaviour in the last 30 years on the surrounding roads so I would disagree with anyone who says it hasn’t. I’ve lived there 35+ years. I would know.

    1. Lauren the estate was not informed at all just the residents of the Drive and the Road. It affected more than just us itcwas our way out . Never dreamed I’d be caged in after 46 years. Not a happy bunny at all.

  6. Lived very close to here, honestly this was heavenly compared to prospect hill, it’s all children with nowhere to go and trying to be tough. A bit more parental involvement and teaching our kids to be nicer people could be the way out of the mess.

  7. Fab fence and top professional job done. Love it.Well done to dublin city council, the elected reps and all the residents and volunteers involved. Very welcome from the residents living there. If Boyne lived there and was tortured by anti social behaviour, no doubt his opinion would differ.

  8. I would sometimes use the shortcut that was there, but i’m ok to walk 5 minute longer if that makes the lives of those residents quieter. It was really very busy, so i think they deserve some privacy and peace. We leave in a nearby road, also at the mercy of the scramblers, against which the Garda do nothing. I wish a similar fence was put there too. As for the person/cyclist complaining (not living there, of course) , it’s selfish and a bit laughable; i’m pretty sure he’ll be able to compensate those extra-minutes by cycling through a one more red light, like they often do.

  9. Obviously the local residents have a far greater understanding of the antisocial issues that they have experienced for decades but to be fair I think the guy is trying to make the point that putting a fence up doesn’t tackle the root of the problem. It just pushes the antisocial activities into a different area and causes inconveniences such as greater access issues for those with mobility needs. Ideally they’d tackle the actual issue of antisocial behaviour and let the residents enjoy their quick walk to the park and bus stop. They shouldn’t need to have a fence around their houses but it seems to be the easy way out for the council.

    1. Catherine you have nailed it. I have lived here for 47 years and I am 4 houses away from the park but I can no longer be bothered to go there. On the other hand my husband has mobility issues and has used the park to walk our dogs for as long as I can remember. He has fished the Tolka and been a regular user of the park for as long as it has existed. This fence has stopped him and others using this facility . No one has mentioned Gortbeg road only the drive. We are four doors away and we can’t get out to do what we have done for decades. Not happy at all .

  10. I’m from the Finglas South area and have to commend the committee for the work they have done over the years. It’s the best well kept and one of the safest areas in finglas south. They constantly win awards for how their community is kept. I can’t understand someone who doesn’t live in the area, insinuate that the majority of people in Lakeglen were wrong for wanting a more safe community to live in.

    1. Keith the majority of the people in Lakeglen were NOT consulted it was only the Drive and the Road. Nobody went around the Estate asking if people objected.

  11. I have been living here from the start nearly 50 years i have seen a lot of anty social behavour shops being burnt out stolen cars and drugs childrens school being destroyed railings had to be erected to protect school its a lovely school to bring children now all thanks to community effort no railings in our estate, now there are railings people feel safe, all thanks to the community who take great care of our estate. So please whatever carbon emissions polution and congestion has to do with a railing which is perfect for our aerea hugh thanks to commitee and council.

  12. I’ve lived and worked in Finglas for nearly 20 yrs. The idea that young people here have nothing else to do is ridiculous. Finglas has more resources pumped into it than probably any other area. People need to stop making excuses for anti social behaviour and start teaching young people respect, empathy and responsibility.

  13. Catherine you have nailed it. I have lived here for 47 years and I am 4 houses away from the park but I can no longer be bothered to go there. On the other hand my husband has mobility issues and has used the park to walk our dogs for as long as I can remember. He has fished the Tolka and been a regular user of the park for as long as it has existed. This fence has stopped him and others using this facility . No one has mentioned Gortbeg road only the drive. We are four doors away and we can’t get out to do what we have done for decades. Not happy at all .

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