COMMENT & ANALYSIS: Dublin City Council and the Gardai still have a lot to answer for over allowing coaches and buses linked to events at Croke Park to be parked on footpaths and cycle paths on the Alfie Byrne Road.
The latest event is the U2 concert later today. It’s one of many such closures, but the legal means of the closures is shrouded in mystery. This is on top of unanswered questions over the safety choices over choosing to close the cycle paths rather than the roadway.
On Thursday, we reported how the Garda press office said: “Dublin City Council have approved all road closures for this event so I would refer your query to them. Stewards are employed at the location for the duration of the event for the safety of all concerned.”
So, according to the Gardai, Dublin City Council must be the ones approving blocking part of Dublin’s longest continuous cycle path? And what would normally be illegal parking?
Yesterday, just after midday, the city council pointed back towards the Gardai. A city council spokesman said:
Information on the Garda Concert Management Arrangements for Croke Park are on the Garda website: http://www.garda.ie/Controller.aspx?Page=20882
This plan was done in conjunction with the various Transport Agencies to assist patrons attending the U2 Concert at Croke Park Stadium and includes the closure of the cycle lane on the Alfie Byrne Road to facilitate bus parking. These measures are being enforced by the Garda Traffic Corp so if you require any further information, it would be more appropriate to contact them.
IrishCycle.com then quoted what the Gardai said on Thursday, and asked: Can the city council please clarify what approval it has given for the closure of the cycle tracks on both sides of Alfie Byrne Road? After 2pm, the city council replied:
Planning permission was granted for the Croke Park Stadium redevelopment by An Bord Pleanála on the 9th March, 1993. Condition No. 11(b) of this permission requires:
“Three months (or such other period as may be agreed in writing with the planning authority) prior to such events, the developer shall obtain the written agreement of the planning authority to the proposed arrangements in relation to capacity and to the various management and control procedures and works involved with respect to access, safety (including temporary stands, plant, generator, vehicles and equipment), noise level, lighting levels, capacity, parking, off-site pedestrian impact (including litter removal), duration and times of stage/arena construction, rehearsal/testing and event/performance. No event shall continue later than 22.00 hours other than when authorised by a prior planning permission” (amended to 23.00 hours under planning permission register reference no 6473/06 final grant date 14/03/2007).
Part of the required management is traffic management and the specific issue of parking which would include coach parking on Alfie Byrne Road associated with the Concerts. The traffic management plan is put together by An Garda Síochána in consultation with the promoter and therefore any reasonable request made by the promoter or An Garda Síochána in this regard is covered within the compliance approval associated with the event.
Can you please provide the written agreement between Croke Park and the City Council which includes the closure of the cycle track? Their reply was: “Unfortunately this information is not available at present.”
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It’s hard to see how planning permission for the stadium allows for the closure of a cycle path over 1km away from the event and well outside the main traffic cordon for the event.
In its reply after 2pm, the council added:
We also rely on the fact that An Garda Síochána have the powers under Section 91 of the Roads and Traffic Act 1961…
So, back to the Garda press office: Will Garda officers be present tomorrow to use the powers under Section 91 of the Roads and Traffic Act 1961 to keep the cycle track closed for coach parking? Or if the intention is to appoint “parking attendants” under the act, will there be a written record of this and is there a written record for previous concerts that parking attendants were appointed?
The Garda press office said:
“As previously stated – Dublin City Council have approved all road closures for this event so I would refer your query to them. Stewards are employed at the location for the duration of the event for the safety of all concerned. Furthermore we do not discuss operational matters ahead of major events.”
The excuse of “operational matters” might hold for the numbers and placement of the public order or anti-terrorism units, but using it when somebody asks if there a written record of appointing parking attendants? Gardai reform seems to be a distance universe, even for the simplest of things.
People have asked what’s the alternative to allowing coaches up on the cycle paths. There’s a few alternatives.
Ideally, the city should set up proper coach parking / set-down somewhere between Croke Park and the Docklands, serving not just Croke Park but also the Three Arena, the Dublin Conference Centre, general tourism use etc.
Others have suggested that the Croke Park’s owners should be paying for use of private lands (like the ESB gateway car park on Eastwall Road, or a nearby railway station car parks).
Maybe a more practical suggestion in the short term would be to use formal road closure orders to partly or fully closing Alfie Byrne Road to general traffic while the coach parking is needed and providing safe space for cycling and walking.
For now two things are clear: Dublin City Council remains pro-cycling only when it suits them and the legality of the cycle path closure is at best mysterious.