— Councillor follows his previous line that council doesn’t have legal powers to make changes quickly.
— Local business group says majority of councillors support proposals.
Plans by Dublin City Council to trial the pedestrianisation of Merrion Row, Mary Street and part of Capel Street to help restaurateurs with outdoor dining this summer could face a Court challenge, a city councillor has warned.
The plans have yet to go to public consultation and Dublin City Council has yet to formally put out their version of the idea which first came from business
Cllr Mannix Flynn (independent) — who is a serial objector to sustainable transport and pedestrianisation projects — is currently part of a High Court challenge against the Sandymount Strand Road cycle route trial.
Cllr Flynn continues to claim the council does not have powers to make changes quickly using the Road Traffic Act as amended by the Public Transport Act, a law which was enacted by the Oireachtas which allows for wide-ranging street changes. He said: “Certainly when you are going pedestrianise a street and go through the statutory process, I don’t have a problem with it. But if you’re simply going to wave the law and put in temporary measures and impact on traffic in the city centre and traffic all over the place on other streets, then that’s a problem.”
Cllr Flynn also raised the issue with commercialisation of public streets and listed off a list of public spaces where he thinks there are anti-social behavioural issues.
His latest comments were made on a segment of Newstalk’s Breakfast show this morning. The segment also included Gina Murphy, owner of Hugo’s Restaurant.
Murphy said that they have been working towards the idea for 8-9 months. She said that he has been working with a group of other businesses on Merrion Row.
The group want to create space not just for outdoor dining, but also a “culture corridor” linking the museums in the area with more space for pedestrians than the current narrow footpaths. Often people have to walk out into the road because the narrow footpaths are so congested, she said.
In reply Cllr Flynn said people can already walk between the museums, he did not address the issue of the very narrow footpaths on the street.
Cllr Flynn said he’s “all on for pedestrianisation and cycling”, he is however objecting again to another project aimed at making the city less car-dominated.
He said: “This is not going to happen. This is Dublin City Council and the NTA, we simply don’t just lob off streets [restrict motoring access] — this take a long, long, long process. Otherwise, you end up in Court. You end up in disarray.”
Murphy said: “I didn’t come on here to have an argument with anybody. I came on under the premise that I was explaining our proposals. We have been in consultation for months over this, I have written to every one of the 63 councillors to explain our proposals, I have written to Ministers, we have been in discussion with the [council’s] COVID mobility team. This isn’t something that has been plucked out of the wind, this has been worked on and strategised.”
“I fully understand that you don’t agree with it Mannix, but that doesn’t mean it’s not up for consultation and reasoned debate,” she added.
Cllr Flynn said: “Everything is up for debate, but to simply say this is going to go ahead, I mean, it’s not going to happen. We have 100s of requests from the public in Dublin City Council to close off streets and do all sorts of harebrained ideas.”
He added: “But it’s not going to happen. I can guarantee you that. It’s a main artery. Merrion Row is a main artery. Huge number of buses, huge traffic and those with disabilities.”