Rebellion and Grangegorman Bring Centre
The council shouldn’t vacate land it leases in Grangegorman – which it currently uses for a bring centre – until it secures land for an equal facility in the same area, councillors on the Central Area Committee said at Tuesday’s meeting.
The bring centre is on land owned by TU Dublin that’s being developed by the state’s Grangegorman Development Agency (GDA), a spokesperson for the agency said in April. The GDA needs the land back as part of a project to stabilise the historic Clock Tower building adjoining it, she said.
The council has struggled to find a suitable site for a replacement centre in the area, and a spokesperson said in April that some local services might be reduced, including recycling for garden waste, batteries, bulbs, and electrical equipment.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Fianna Fáil Councillor Eimer McCormack proposed an emergency motion calling on the council to ensure that any temporary facility would include full services equal to the current bring centre.
Said Independent Councillor Nial Ring: “I think we have to stop this and stop it now until we get exact replacement facilities we should not give away that site.”
Otherwise, the community might never get back the services it has now, Ring said. “When you see the word ‘interim’ in Dublin City Council that is another word for ‘permanent’.”
Labour Councillor Declan Meenagh asked for a full report on the existing recycling facilities in the Central Area, a part of the city where many households don’t have a car.
“I’m not going to bring a bag of recycling on the bus,” Meenagh said. “It seems unbelievable that the council’s response to a major dumping crisis is to reduce the facilities.”
Fine Gael Councillor Ray McAdam blamed the issue on the outgoing council chief executive, Owen Keegan.
He said that Keegan and council officials agreed to accept reduced recycling services while at the same time telling councillors that they have a lease and would stay there until an alternative was found.
“I’m formally serving notice, cathaoirleach [chairperson], that I will now move a section 140,” said McAdam, referring to the part of the local government act that outlines the procedure for councillors to compel council officials to do something.
“So that this does not happen,” he said – meaning that the council doesn’t leave the current location until another location is found that can accommodate the full recycing services.
McAdam asked his fellow councillors to support that move as the procedure requires three councillors to sign it. Several councillors agreed.
Green Party Councillor Janet Horner asked council officials to arrange a meeting between local residents, the council, and the Grangegorman Development Agency, to try to progress the matter and help people understand what the possibilities are.
McCormack, the Fianna Fáil councillor, withdrew her emergency motion in favour of inviting residents’ groups from throughout the Dublin 7 area to attend that meeting.
“The bring centre serves Phibsboro, Cabra, the Navan Road, right up to Ashtown and we need all stakeholders at this meeting,” she said.
Seeking plans in the city centre
Green Party Councillor Janet Horner tabled three motions at the meeting on Tuesday of the council’s Central Area Committee, calling on the council to come up with plans to improve the appearance of the north inner-city – and all three motions were agreed.
In the first motion, Horner called on the council to tackle vacancy and dereliction, and improve the public realm on Parnell Street, especially between O’Connell Street and Marlborough Street.
“There should be a report brought back to this committee by the end of the year identifying key actions and interventions to bring back to life this important avenue for the city core,” says Horner in the motion, which was unanimously agreed.
The local area manager responded by saying the area office is focused on other streets in the north inner-city at the moment, but that it will also liaise with the planning department to see if there is anything that can be done about vacancy and dereliction on Parnell Street.
The Office of City Recovery is working to improve core streets within the north inner-city, says the response.
“We are working on concepts to improve O’Connell Street, Talbot Street, Capel Street and North Earl Street in the first instance,” it says.
Building work is underway on Capel Street, and the council recently revamped the lighting on Talbot Street. It has plans to improve lighting and prune trees on O’Connell Street in the coming weeks, says the response.
“We will be coming back to the Central Area Committee once we have fleshed out ideas
to potentially enhance/refresh streets in the North Inner City,” it says.
In the second motion, Horner called on the council to develop a plan to rejuvenate Abbey Street.
The council moved in July to close off a laneway branching off from Abbey Street called Harbour Court.
It closed the lane, which runs from Abbey Street Lower to the quays, and to Marlborough Street, because it was being used by people anti-social behaviour, drug taking and illegal dumping, said a council report at the time. Local businesses wanted it shut.
In her motion Tuesday, Horner said: “We cannot simply shut down public space without also identifying ways to improve and elevate the area more generally.”
The response from council officials was: “This is a matter for the members to discuss.”
On the back of the third motion from Horner, the Central Area Committee agreed to call on the council to declare a litter and illegal-dumping emergency in the north inner-city.
The motion called on the “Minister with responsibility for the circular economy to prepare an emergency intervention plan to address the issues in the area.”
A meeting has been arranged with the minister for the end of this month, says the council response.
Horse fairs in Smithfield
Although the council only allows horse fairs in Smithfield twice a year, horse owners are now holding unofficial horse fairs there once a month, said Sinn Féin Councillor Janice Boylan on Tuesday at a meeting of the council’s Central Area Committee.
“I do, do think more needs to be done in relation to the illegal horse fairs that are happening,” she said. “Residents down there are absolutely sick of it at this stage.”
Gardaí need to take control of the situation and the council should liaise with them too, Boylan said.
At the meeting on 12 September, Frank Lambe, a senior executive officer with Dublin City Council, refreshed councillors’ memories with a presentation on the council by-laws on horse fairs in Smithfield, which were introduced in 2013.
The organised fairs take place in March and September, Lambe said. Anyone who wants to attend with a horse must apply for a casual trading licence in advance, he said. That requires their identification, their PPS number, and €10.
“Horses have to be under the control of people over 16 years of age,” he said, and people are not allowed to canter or gallop during the fair.
The council is willing to provide music, a farrier and funding for trophies at the organised events, he said. But “if the by-laws aren’t complied with there can’t be a horse fair”, said Lambe.
Councillors, many of whom were on the council when the by-laws were introduced, spoke in favour of the regulations.
Boylan said they help to make the fair safe for attendees and residents as well as people who are passing through Smithfield on the day.
Independent Councillor Cieran Perry says that prior to the introduction of the by-laws there were problems with drug dealing, violence and the abuse of animals at the Smithfield horse fair. “I’d hate to see it reverting back to the way it was.”
Independent Councillor Christy Burke said he remembers gunfire at the fair as well as drug dealing and other illegal activity. “So much so that the fear in the local residents was indescribable.”
Anyone who wants to trade casually has to provide their PPS number for their application, he said. “Let’s hope that we can get the fair back to normality there and that the illegal trading and illegal activity is stamped out once and for all.”
Last Sunday, horse owners gathered in Smithfield to protest the council rules for holding horse fairs in what was once a traditional market area.
“This is our practice and our heritage and our culture,” said David Mulreany, a member of the Smithfield Horse Fair committee, according to the Irish Times. “The heritage is gone out of Dublin.”
The protest called for the repeal of the by-laws that stipulate that the fair can only be held twice a year, where previously it was once per month.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Lambe, the council senior executive officer, said that many horse owners no longer want to participate in the organised fairs, because they don’t want to apply for a licence.
“It really comes down to their issue with taking out a casual trading licence,” he said.