— Council uses issues raised in “Garda” submission as part of justification for road-side option.
— 75% of submissions supported coastal option.
The public consultation process on the Passage West section of the Lee to Sea Greenway is at “least partly compromised” campaigners have said after controversy over a submission in the name of the Gardai which the force now has distanced itself from.
Campaigners, a local resident and business group, and some politicians have criticised Cork City Council for going against the 75% of respondents who supported the coastal option between Harty’s Quay and Hop Island. The council wants to run the greenway on what is now a footpath between houses and the busy Rochestown Road.
Some local residents are objecting to a waterside route between the back of their houses and the waterfront on the Mahon to Passage West section of the greenway. The problem is so did a submission which was made out to be an official Garda submission, but which the force has now distanced itself from.
Campaigns have said that Cork City Council, in making their decision not to build a coastal boardwalk, stated “concerns by An Garda Siochana as key element of decision”and, with Gardai HQ backing away from the submission, this now means that process has been “distorted”.
TheJournal.ie last night reported that Gardai are now investigating the submission.
Sam McCormack, a spokesperson for the Cork Cycling Campaign, said: “It’s good to hear they’re investigating, but the whole consultation process has clearly been flawed and at least partly compromised.”
He said: “Cork Cycling Campaign wants to see public funds used in the very best way possible, providing an upgrade that most benefits the public, rather than one which just benefits the small few objectors.
“The coastal option provides a safe, car-free greenway for all, which will in turn allow greater connectivity, with no diversion needed to go out towards the roadway, which continues to be a hostile and unsafe environment for pedestrians and cycles alike — with the daily issues including illegal footpath parking, motor vehicles driving on and encroaching on the greenway space, and residents entering and exiting their properties, among other issues,” said McCormack.
He said that the coastal route option provides a greater experience for all users of the Lee2Sea greenway as both a commuting and tourism route which “the city as a whole can be proud of”.
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He added: “We are deeply concerned that despite over 75% of submissions voting for the coastal option, Cork City Council are still adamant to provide a lacklustre, unsafe and unfit for purpose route for Greenway users to please a tiny minority. “
The Rochestown Area Residents and Business Association said: “The Cork City Council public consultation process has been corrupted by a submission that was not officially from the Gardai as Garda Headquarters have publicly stated. This public consultation process ought to reopened and be led by a team with parks and recreational experience.”
Yesterday, the Garda press office said: “An Garda Síochána has a close working relationship with Cork City Council and where necessary make submission on public consultation programmes through official channels. No official submission has been made at this time.”
“Formal submissions in relation to this are submitted through the Office of Chief Superintendent, any other submission is deemed a personal submission. An Garda Síochána does not comment on any personal submissions,” the Garda press office said.
Cllr Des Cahill said: “My position should be very clear, a river side boardwalk which takes in the concerns of the neighbours and the ecological nature of the area ,if done right is the best option. What is offered now is Not a greenway it’s a roads project.”
Cllr Dan Boyle said: “Personal submissions should be personally attributed and should never be associated with a place of employment, especially when that place is with an important State agency.”
Cork City Council said: “We would like to clarify a misunderstanding that arose on social media today. As part of a non-statutory public consultation process to help inform early design decisions for phase 2 of the B’rock/Passage Greenway, we received an online submission from a local garda station.”
The council added: “Cork City Council staff followed up on the online submission and were promptly given a name by the local garda station to formally accompany the submission.”
Cork City Council did not respond before publication to a request for comment before the publication of this article.