— Representatives spoke against watering down the motion.
— Members differ if watering down of warning was significant.
— Dublin councillor says the proposal was “diluted”.
As the COP26 conference continues in Scotland, a powerful committee within the Labour Party in Ireland has put the party’s commitment to sustainable transport at a national level in doubt — watering down an internal motion on cycling and pedestrian infrastructure.
A motion at the Labour Party’s conference this morning called on councillors and representatives to support segregated cycle lanes, improvements to road infrastructure at junctions and roundabouts that would facilitate safer walking, and cycling and to look for alternatives to footpaths car parking.
Limerick City branch of the Labour Party put forward a motion stating that the “Conference notes the importance of promoting active travel and making school and work journeys more sustainable through having fewer cars on our roads. As A New Deal for our Towns and Villages
references ‘we need to reduce reliance on the car and make our towns for people.”
it continued: “Therefore, Conference calls for: Labour representatives at local and national level to support the roll-out of active travel infrastructure, i.e., cycle lanes and cycle pathways where local authority active travel units designate trials for cycle segregation. Labour reps will support cycle infrastructure changes and trials to improve existing road infrastructure. Labour representatives at local and national level to support the safety of priority road users, i.e., pedestrians and cyclists through the proper use of footpaths and cycle lanes for pedestrians and people cycling.”
The motion added: “This includes voting in favour of segregated cycle lanes, improvements to road infrastructure at junctions and roundabouts that would facilitate safer walking and cycling.
Any requests to support parking on footpaths will not be supported as alternatives must be sought.”
But the Central Council of the Labour Party was successful in watering down the motion, removing key sections of the motion calling on party representatives to support infrastructure and seek alternatives to footpath parking.
According to an archive of Labour’s website: “The Central Council is composed of a delegate from each Constituency Council and Party Section, the members of the Executive Board, three co-opted members and an elected staff representative.”
The amendment by the Central Council said: “In bullet point 2, after the words ‘people cycling’ delete everything and insert ‘Labour supports quality interventions in the urban realm and active travel measures.’”
A Dublin City Council Labour representative, Cllr Darragh Moriarty, said he “Spoke against the acceptance of this amendment [by Central Council] at this morning’s Labour Party Conference.”
He said that the original motion was “A very minimal ask of our local cllrs across the country completely diluted by Central Council.”
Cllr Moriarty added: “I fully supported the motion put forward by the Limerick City branch. An amendment was put down removing the aspects mandating cllrs to vote for segregated cycling, no on-footpath parking etc. I opposed the amendment seeking to dilute original motion.”
Anne Cronin, who spoke to the motion for Labour’s Limerick branch, said: “Motion passed with an amendment – that @Labour_Limerick accepted. The thrust of the motion remains – @labour reps support active travel trials & infrastructure projects where proposed. Driving/parking on footpaths is ILLEGAL. Anyone supporting same is acting unlawfully.”
Labour TD Duncan Smith said: “Comprehensive contribution from Anne Cronin on the need to be uncompromising in support of active travel. Anne talks the talk and walks the walk (and cycles the bicycle too) on active travel, air quality, safe travel environments and improving quality of life #ANewDeal #LP21.”
When asked by a member of the public about the watering down of the motion — text of which was clearly removed by the amendment— Dublin-based Cllr Dermot Lacey said: “No I don’t think so. Addition was ‘Labour supports quality interventionsin the urban realm and active travel measures’…..which I take as encouraging Lab Cllrs to get stuck in and work on proposals to get the best outcomes.”
Cllr Lacey supported objectors to Dublin City Council’s proposals for the Strand Road trial cycle path.
His Labour Party constituency colleague, Cllr Mary Freehill, who supports footpath parking, claimed in July that the “militant wing of Green Party” with “fascist” behaviour put a “fatwa” on her.
More recently in October, she told a local area council meeting that talking about cars has replaced sex as new “sins of the flesh”. Back in July, Cllr Freehill also falsely claimed that the installation of a bus gate on the Rathmines Road would mean that people would be “completely blocked off” when the plan is to maintain car access from both sides, just not allow through access for cars.