Making the Liberties greener

Green space per person in the Liberties has nudged up from 0.68sqm in 2015 to 1.68sqm now, says Deirdre Prince, a landscape architect in Dublin City Council’s parks department.

It was back in 2015 that Dublin City Council introduced its The Liberties: Greening Strategy, which highlighted the low levels of green space. And how the figure was “in stark contrast to an average of 49 sqm/person for Dublin City Council as a whole or 15sqm per person for the south east quadrant of the Canal Ring”.

At a meeting of the council’s South Central Area Committee on 18 October, Prince gave an update on the implementation of that greening strategy.

So far, “we’ve delivered the big projects like parks”, she said, “and what we’re moving on to now is street tree planting”. 

There’s a plan, for example, for five new trees in the footpath on Reuben Street, outside Flanagan’s Field, Prince said. 

Just around the corner on St Anthony’s Road, there’s a plan for four street-trees. These won’t be in the footpath though, but in “build-outs” jutting out from the footpath into where car-parking spaces are. On Haroldville Avenue, there’s a plan for eight of these. 

Also on the agenda are trees for Carman’s Hall, between Francis Street and Meath Street, as well as in Blackpitts and in the St Luke’s Avenue median. 

Carman’s Hall slide from Deirdre Prince’s presentation at the South Central Area Committee meeting.

“A lot of the trees along this median are dying. Part of that is due to the growing medium,” she said. So the plan is to depave the median, put in one big tree pit, and plant new trees there once there’s more room for them to grow. 

There’s funding for all these projects, and the plan is to put out tenders for them this year and do the work next year, she said. 

After saying he welcomed these relatively small projects, Labour Councillor Darragh Moriarty asked about the big picture. How is the council progressing with its Liberties greening strategy? he asked.

Taking into account the delivery of Weaver Park and Bridgefoot Street Park, and the opening of St Audoen’s Park and the Peace Park and “various other smaller greening initiatives”, the amount of greenspace per person has gone up to 1.68sqm, Prince said. 

“It’s a sizeable jump but it’s not enough,” she said – and doesn’t include St James’s Linear Park yet.  

More delays for Donore Avenue community centre

The schedule for fixing up and re-opening the council-owned Donore Avenue community centre had been pushed back again, Sinn Féin Councillor Máire Devine said at the 18 October meeting of the South Central Area Committee. 

“We’re now delayed again,” Devine said. “It did say November to have a tender done by. But now it seems to be March next year. Again, a big delay. So end of 2025, we’re pushing it out to. Very disappointing.”

Council managers did not respond or comment. 

Devine also asked about progress on fixing the broken lock on the outer door to a council-owned apartment building near the community centre. 

Bruce Phillips, the council’s executive manager for its South Central Area administrative area, said he didn’t have any information on that, but he’d get back to her with it.

A report way back in May said “The Area Office have engaged a specialist door company to assess the front door”. 

However, the lock is still broken. A gentle push on the door on Tuesday morning and it swung open, allowing access to anyone for any reason.

Devine has said that the lock remaining broken is a security risk for residents of the building. “It’s known that that spot is a safe spot to congregate because there’s no lock,” she has said.  “There’s no safety for residents at all.”

The council-owned community centre on Donore Avenue in the south inner-city has been sitting vacant since an accidental fire started there in June 2021. 

In an area already blighted by dereliction associated with the stalled regeneration of the council’s St Teresa’s Gardens flats, the loss of the centre has meant the loss of community services, and a vital community hub

Taking this long to renovate a small building is just inexplicable, Karen Jordan, the principal of the local St Catherine’s National School, said in late September. “If the canteen in the council offices burnt down, it’d already be replaced,” she said. 

Changes for Kilmainham Lane?

Something needs to be done about Kilmainham Lane, Sinn Féin Councillor Máire Devine said at the 18 October meeting of the South Central Area Committee.

The narrow two-way lane high above the Camac River runs from Bow Lane in the east, past the Old Royal Oak pub and comes out just near Kilmainham Gaol. 

“It’s quite lethal for cyclists and pedestrians and motorists,” Devine said at the meeting. “It’s crazy, it’s back-to-back, it’s fighting over small territory.”

Devine said her understanding was that there were longstanding requests for the council to make Kilmainham Lane one-way. “It is not suitable for two lanes of traffic to easily pass by.”

She asked the council managers to arrange for the traffic situation on the lane to be assessed. 

Council executive engineer Neil O’Donoghue said that, as far as making the lane one-way, having two-way traffic on the road actually “helps slow the speeds down on the road at present”. 

To make the lane one-way, or to open it up to more to pedestrians and cyclists by shutting out through traffic by cars altogether would require a broad public consultation with “all the people and businesses in the area, including the Gardaí as well”, O’Donoghue said. 

There’s a Garda station near the west end of the lane, and gardaí use the lane to get to and from it. 

“If you wanted filtered permeability or making the road one-way that would have to go through our neighbourhood schemes team,” he said. “Because it would affect all the roads in the area.”

Drivers that now cut through Kilmainham Lane to avoid traffic back-ups down below on Old Kilmainham, for example, would find other routes.  

O’Donoghue did not seem inclined to make changes on the lane, though. 

“I have observed the road, I have been looking at it, and traffic does get by in the normal hours of the day, but at certain times of the day there is a bit of queueing,” he said. 

“I am looking at maybe removing some of the car parking spaces near the pub there near the Garda headquarters,” he said. 

Vacancy and dereliction in Cherry Orchard

The South Central Area Committee agreed to call on council managers “for an immediate response to the level of vacant properties in the D10 area”.

People Before Profit Councillor Hazel de Nortúin had brought a motion to the committee proposing that action, and the committee agreed at their 18 October meeting to back her motion.   

“I put this motion in on the back of the level of frustration that I’ve had for probably over a year now,” de Nortúin said. 

She said that there were 62 vacant council homes – or “voids” in council jargon – in the area. “I think the fact that we have six new houses up in Cherry Orchard that are boarded up is just beyond reprehensible,” she said at the meeting.

A boarded-up house in Cherry Orchard. Credit: Photo courtesy of Councillor Hazel de Nortúin.

On Monday, she explained further, via WhatsApp: “there’s 6 of the new rapid builds boarded up in Cherry Orchard. One was set on fire so the tenant left because of the threat to life. Some left because similar threats of violence. Some moved away.”

At the meeting, she asked that the council secure empty council homes in the area, and deal with reports by residents of rubbish or fly-tipping or damage in and around these properties. 

She also asked that senior council officials visit “and see what it’s like for families living in Cherry Orchard with constant dereliction”. “I do think being up and looking at it visually, rather than just looking at statistics cause this goes beyond just numbers on a list,” she said. 

In response, Alan Sherry, the local area manager at the Ballyfermot Area Office, said that senior management had held a meeting in Cherry Orchard over the summer, and taken a walk around to have a look at these issues at the time. “They’re aware of the issues in Cherry Orchard,” he said. 

Bruce Phillips, the council’s executive manager for its South Central Area administrative area, said the council was doing a “comprehensive and structured evaluation”, which is “already commenced and well underway”.

Once that’s done, “We’ll be looking for areas that are performing less than expected and make sure that the required standards are being delivered in the area”, he said.

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