Fianna Fáil leader criticised for intervening in Cork’s 3.5 hour bus gate

— Martin says footfall down when council data shows it is up.

Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin was criticised this weekend for intervening the debate over the bus gate on Cork’s Patrick Street .

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The bus gate — which is also open to bicycles and taxis — was originally due to kick in from 11am daily but was watered down to a 3pm start-time and running for just 3.5 hours as a compromise.

Martin was reported locally as stopping short of supporting a complete reversal of the private traffic restrictions. Echo Live quoted him as saying: “I don’t think it’s working. I think they should certainly modify it again… My feedback from city centre retailers is that the current traffic management plan isn’t working, and it’s working to their detriment.”

Martin added: “Particularly after 3pm in the afternoon, there has been a serious drop in footfall,

The Cork Cycling Campaign said on Twitter: “Context for our international followers picking this up: Ireland has 2nd highest levels of car commuting in EU. 2nd biggest city in the country brings in a daily 3.5hr bus only measure for main st. Leader of the opposition thinks it needs to be scrapped after 6 months.”

Lorna Bogue, a Green Party candidate in the Cork City South East area said: “These comments are extremely ill-judged from Mr Martin. If he walked around he’d see that footfall has evidently increased on Patrick Street. The statistics from Cork City Council are that footfall is up 22%.”

She added: “We’ve seen headlines that seven shops have closed and 20 more have opened. Business is changing in the city centre but the trend of businesses closing in the city centre has been reversed. More businesses are being attracted in. There’s a growing after work culture in the pubs, cafés and restaurants. This is all inline with what we’d expect from international experience. It’s something to be welcomed after such a long time when the city centre was lifeless.”

Fianna Fáil Cllr Kenneth O’Flynn, who has written an open letter to his fellow councillors, said he was “Delighted to get some support from my party leader”.

In the introduction to his open letter, Cllr O’Flynn said: “I feel so strongly that what we as a Council have done and are continuing to do to our beloved City Centre is so damaging that very soon we may have gone beyond the point of addressing it.”

He said: “Most of our retailers are at a point of despair with more closures and job losses looming and I genuinely believe that we as the elected representatives of the citizens of Cork have a duty of care to our city centre and our retailers.”

In response to the open letter, Cllr Kieran McCarthy (independent) said: “I can’t support Ken’s 6 points – much work has been done- the bottle is more than half full, not empty as he suggests; I did attend the new City Trader Assoc last week & they had many positive marketing suggestions in even getting more citizens into town”

MAIN IMAGE: Patrick Street before the bus gate, photo by William Murphy, used under Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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