— Councillors and campaigners condemn the threat of harm.
A member of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council’s active travel project team has received threats of harm against them self and their family, according to a senior official.
Council staff and councillors facing threats of physical harm has become common in some areas in the UK where changes are made to roads and streets that affects motorists, especially in relation to controversial projects. Flower planters for low traffic neighbourhoods, which stop through traffic on residential and shopping streets, were also regularly being damaged in London in the last year.
But such threats and activities are nearly unheard of in Ireland.
It is understood that in some cases Dublin City Councils staff received on-street threats against them last year while installing Covid-19 mobility measures. The threat against Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council (DLRCC) relates to its walking and cycling programme.
Robert Burns, Director of Infrastructure and Climate Change at DLRCC, said: “A member of my project team recently received threats of harm against them and their family for work related to active travel. Sickening act and reported to Gardaí.”
“Public discourse that seeks to undermine and breed mistrust in work of diligent public servants has a corrosive effect,” he said.
Burns added: “In Ireland, it requires courage from local authority staff to simply implement established national and local policies on active travel. Courage shouldn’t have to extend to dealing with threats.”
Responding, Cllr Kate Feeney (FF) said:” This is disgusting and not at all acceptable. The staff in DLRCC are always proactive in making themselves available to meet with residents and business groups. To be threatened in the course of your work is not okay.”
Cllr Peter O’Brian (Labour) said: “This is sicking to read. Staff in DLRCC have always made themselves available to meet residents and community groups. They are diligent, professional and committed public servants. Attacks like this are disgusting and have no place in a democracy.
Cllr Séafra Ó Faoláin (Green) said: “The jump from insults to threats to intimidation to harm is less than we think. Some public reps have tacitly endorsed these insults. I hope the Council official and their family are recovering and that the perpetrator faces consequences.”
Cllr Oisín O’Connor (Green) said: “This is absolutely disgusting and terrifying. Solidarity with the staff member. My experience is that DLRCC officials are happy to meet with community members about issues. This often take place on the street on an informal level and are of huge value to all concerned.”
Former Mayor of Fingal County Council, Cllr Eoghan O’Brian said: “Disgraceful. What goes through the mind of someone who thinks this is acceptable?”
DLR Cycling, a local branch of the Dublin Cycling Campaign, said: “This is what happens when peoples fears are fuelled irresponsibly by people who should know better. The best answer to this is to give people the active travel network.”