At a meeting of Dublin City Council’s Central Area Committee on Tuesday, councillors voiced concerns about the council failing to recruit cover for staff members who are going on maternity leave.
Fine Gael Councillor Ray McAdam asked if someone had been appointed to fill the post of an architect heading up the programme for greening Stoneybatter.
Les Moore, head of parks, said that no one had been appointed to fill the post. “I know she has tried to set up a few projects that can continue while she is away but obviously we won’t be able to carry out the same amount of work.”
“I’m not very happy about that to be perfectly honest,” said Sinn Féin Councillor Janice Boylan, who also wished the architect well.
Residents have been raising issues about timeframes for consultations and feel there is a lack of engagement in the greening process, she said. “There is genuine concerns there.”
Said Labour Party Councillor Deborah Byrne: “It must be awful to leave knowing that work will be piling up for her while she is away.”
Byrne asked why the post wasn’t being filled.
Moore said people can be out of work for different reasons. “And we try to fill it as best as we can with the resources that we have.”
Other staff will do their best to respond to issues that arise, he said, and the staff member will be back in six months.
“It is six months that runs into the local elections,” said McAdam.
Green Party Councillor Janet Horner said the council should have a process in place to replace people while they are on maternity.
“It’s not fair on any woman who works for Dublin City Council to feel there is a penalty in place for taking maternity leave,” Horner said.
The issue of maternity cover needs to be examined, she said.
Martin Savage Park
Plans for an all-weather pitch, a children’s play zone and a community garden in Martin Savage Park in Ashtown are due to go out to public consultation soon.
At Tuesday’s meeting of the Central Area Committee, councillors agreed to start the planning permission process for them.
The proposed new 130-by-70 metre all-weather pitch would be floodlit and shared by St Oliver Plunkett Eoghan Ruadh GAA Club and the Phoenix FC, if it goes ahead.
The kid’s play zone would include swings, slides and climbing equipment.
The proposal includes new paths and bicycle parking. It would mean losing 39 trees, which would be replaced elsewhere in the park, according to an information pack sent to councillors on Monday.
Last year, some local residents raised concerns that building an all-weather pitch on the park could lead to increased flood risk, as the area has a history of flooding.
At the Central Area Committee meeting, councillors supported the proposals, which will be put out for public feedback as part of the council’s internal planning process known as Part 8.
Green Party Councillor Darcy Lonergan said that they had all gotten lots of emails. But anyone with concerns can also submit feedback through the statutory consultation process, she said.
Said Moore, the council’s head of parks: “This whole project has been very difficult for everyone.”
He will arrange meetings with residents to discuss flooding, he said. “It’s great to get to this stage where all the information will be out there and we can take the feedback from people.”
The plans will be available for a month, online and in the council’s Civic Offices on Wood Quay, said Moore.
Labour Councillor Declan Meenagh proposed an amendment, which was agreed, asking that the council include written answers to residents’ questions with the agenda for a future local area committee meeting, when the plans are being discussed again.
Buying Aldborough House
Green Party Councillor Janet Horner and Labour Councillor Deborah Byrne tabled a motion to the Central Area Committee calling on the council to prepare plans to buy Aldborough House, an 18th-century mansion in the north inner-city, which has been vacant for more than 20 years.
They want the council to bring it back into use “for community gain and regeneration of the wider area”, says the motion, which was agreed.
Independent Councillor Christy Burke said that local councillors have been trying to get something done about the building for a very long time, and that he had previously tabled motions.
“Dublin City Council recognises the historical importance of the building, Aldborough House and are keen to see it used in a meaningful way,” says the official council response to the motion.
The council is willing to look at its future use and ownership, it says. “Any such discussions would have to take account of the complexity of such a project, planning regulations and how Aldborough House could be used in the future.”
The building is on the vacant sites register, according to the council response.
The Office of Public Works had before looked into the option of turning it around for offices, but “the scale of expenditure to purchase and fully refurbish was daunting and the owners were keen to retain the building at that time”, it says.