Dublin retailers linked to car park lobby group could face boycott

Retailers linked to a car park lobby group could face a boycott from consumers if threatened legal action is taken against Dublin City Council’s plans to make more space for walking and cycling for a post-lockdown city.

Dublin City Centre Trader’s Alliance has threatened to take legal action against the council for its moves to make more space for walking and cycling.

The alliance has previously listed a number of companies as members — a mix of businesses which have interests in car parks, and some familiar names who have fought against sustainable transport changes in the city for decades.

The names listed in previous correspondence from the Dublin City Centre Trader’s Alliance — which has no apparent website or social media presence — were Arnotts, Jervis Shopping Centre, Brown Thomas, Brown Thomas Car Park, Fitzwilliam Real Estate Capital and Westfield Investments. The names were not listed in recent correspondence. 

A Freedom of Information request lodged by IrishCycle.com found that the Dublin City Centre Trader’s Alliance had threatened action over interim Liffey Cycle Route works early this year. The group also previously threaten to take legal action over the planned pedestrianisation of a short section of Liffey Street Lower, which is a heavily used pedestrian link between the Ha’penny Bridge and the Hennry Street area.

Yesterday alliance’s spokesperson Noel Smyth accused the council’s CEO Owen Keegan of using COVID 19 of acting illegally. 

In an email sent to the council, Smyth said: “…I submit you have no evidence nor has any study been carried out to support these moves and there is no legislation which you can rely on to by-pass the Planning Acts. Further it is my respectful submission that a vote of approval by the Councillors does not cure an illegality but in my opinion leaves the Council open to severe criticism in the Courts for supporting such measures without a minimum where you have produced legal advice confirming your entitlement to carry out this reconfiguration of the roads, access and egress into the City.”

However, despite the views of the Dublin City Centre Trader’s Alliance, the Road Traffic Acts have clear provisions which allows councils to install a wide-range of traffic calming and management measures. Further cycling and bus priority measures were added to council’s powers when the Public Transport Regulation Act 2009 amended the Road Traffic Acts.

RTE reported that Dublin City Council said it would deal with any legal action take in court.

In 2009, a number of businesses — including Brown Thomas and car park operators — took High Court action against the city council over the College Green bus gate, but failed to stop the council running its traffic management measures to give bus priority. Some concessions on time of operation of the bus gate were given by the council 

IrishCycle.com understands that cycling campaigners previously discussed similar boycott action which never happened, but in this case a possible boycott is coming from a wider group of people on social media and seems to be stronger than ever. Example of people calling for a boycott or saying that they will personally boycott retailers include:

Separately, another car parking lobby group, Irish Parking Association, said it was “dismayed” by the council’s report on creating social distancing space and providing sustainable transport in a post-lockdown city. 

Keith Gavin, chairperson of the Irish Parking Association, said in a letter to the council: “According to stated local government policy ‘It is the task of the Strategic Policy Committees (SPCs), as committees of the council, to advise and assist the council in the formulation, development and review of policy’ and that ‘The SPC system is intended to give councillors and relevant sectoral interests an opportunity for full involvement in the policy making process from the early stages’.”

Despite the city council holding a special meeting on the interim Liffey Cycle Route measures, Gavin said: “Again, as with the recent measures regarding implementation of the ‘interim’ Liffey Cycle Route, the relevant Traffic & Transportation SPC appears to have been totally bypassed in this process.”

Gavin claimed the proposals in Dublin are “counter-intuitive and potentially highly damaging to the Government’s plans for a phased reopening of society and business”, but cities around the world — including London and Paris — are planning to using cycling as a tool to supplement low capacity on public transport due to social distancing requirements and expanded footpaths are seen by many councils and business groups as vital to restarting businesses.

I am editor of IrishCycle.com and have reported on and commented on cycling in Ireland for over a decade. My background is in journalism -- I have a BA in Journalism from DCU and HDip in Print Journalism from BCFE. I wrote about cycling for national newspapers, and then started CyclingInDublin.com for overflow stories. Later the website was re-branded to reflect a more national focus.

7 Comments

  1. When you see the large trailer mounted sign advertising arnotts carpark abandoned on the footpath outside what used to be bhs you get an idea how much they care about pedestrians.

  2. Stephen McManus May 12, 2020 at 8:08 pm

    I can’t see any difference between these guys and the tobacco lobby groups. There’s only one thing that matters, protecting their own interests at any cost.

  3. This emergency has illuminated, like nothing before, the psychologically unhealthy and recklessness of those who are ideologically right-wing on economics (not other areas), These are the REAL right-wing that we overlook when criticising people with more socially right tendandancies. To them the Corporate interest must override absolutely everything else. Public health means absolutely nothing to them if it is inconvenient towards corporate interests (Or petty-corporate). Their buddies have been in the High Court recently; Or are on radio every day and writing for one particular overly-dominant newspaper/broadcasting media group. They are also moaning about the private hospitals being made available presently. They’re prepared to take chances with our lives, with the lives of the medical heroes, and even their own lives because they think they have enough money and resources to get through whatever- in this case the Covid Pandemic. We definitely should boycott such deviant leeches.

    BUT – as a cyclist I/we also have a duty to do our bit to fight covid and I am suggesting we vacate some of the more crowded cycle lanes (E.g. clontarf to Sutton) and cycle on the road as we make it difficult for walkers (especially vulnerable walkers or wheelchair users) and joggers. And two idiotic twenty/thirty something cyclists passed me today – both of them on the footpath – They passed several junctions but went back up onto the path every time, refusing to stop and get off even when faced with a woman with kids and a buggy. Total wasters give us a bad name.

    Responsible cyclists have to show we have integrity and leave some of our own space over to walkers and joggers, as well as demanding extended space for ourselves.

  4. Paul I am a commuter cyclist that uses the Clontarf to Sutton cycle lane daily. It is the only cycle lane that I feel safe on. There are three footpaths for most of the the way from Fairview to Sutton. If walkers really cared about social distancing there is adequate room for them.

  5. The cycle lane Clontarf sutton. I cycle it regularly. It is dangerous because there is inadequate barrier or spacing between cycle and walking. A lot of cycle speeding. Which really makes walkers angry and afraid and i would not blame them. Cycling getting a bad name there . There has been many accidents.

  6. Fair enough, I accept that. Please accept my apologies Mark. I did not point out that I was ONLY referring to the stretch from Dollymount (second entrance out from city-not wooden bridge) to Sutton. On hat stretch the road has been quiet enough, and the walking path is limited. But you are 100% correct and I should have been more careful and specific – the remainder of the route has loads of walking space and grass also (And the road is kinda dangerous for cycles at that stretch also) Thanks for pointing it out to me.

  7. No need to apologize Paul. Reasoned debate is healthy

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: