Dublin City councillors accuse media of unhelpful and inaccurate coverage of City Centre traffic plan, “haranguing” councillor on air

Media coverage of the Dublin City Centre Transport Plan was unhelpful and inaccurate, included misinformation, and the “haranguing” councillors on air, according to councillors across different political parties at their monthly council meeting last Monday.

As IrishCycle.com has previously covered, some media outlets — including RTE and The Irish Times — incorrectly reported in headlines and repeatedly said on flagship current affairs shows that the plan includes a ban on through traffic in the city centre when the plan only includes “banning” through traffic on a small number of streets and even a smaller number are to be made car-free under the proposals.

Dublin City Centre is defined as the area ‘within the canals’ and the North Circular Road — there is no plan to block even most through traffic routes from this area.

Among the criticisms of the media by councillors was that it is all too willing to run with headline-grabbing quotes from some councillors.

The coverage of the debate at last Monday’s meeting by the Irish Independent included the headline “Dublin City Centre transport plan consultation process branded ‘underhanded and covert’ by councillor” — the article included heavy references to two councillors who viewed the consultation as flawed but no quotes of other councillors contradicting them.

The newspaper quoted Cllr Christy Burke as having said: “There is a significant percentage of people who could not access the online consultation process.” It’s unclear when Cllr Burke said this.

According to the recording of the meeting, Cllr Burke thanked council officials before claiming that the “consultation process was underhanded, it was covert and there’s a huge percentage of people who did not and cannot use the online process.” However, according to the CSO, 96% of households in the Dublin region have internet access.

The central issue of the debate — the public consultation around the plan — will be covered by IrishCycle.com in a future article. What wasn’t covered by the Independent was the volume of criticism levelled at the media.

Cllr Larry O’Toole (Sinn Féin) said: “I want to talk about the in the current debate about the role of the media –two occasions Lord mayor on one last week on one public broadcast only the text that I could hear were contributors that were against the plan and unfortunately our executive didn’t respond to the request to come on [air]. I think we need to be doing that we need to be using all those broadcasts to explain.”

He said: “Also on another occasion, one of our elected members of the transport committee was harangued on rational radio, just nothing short of harangued.”

Cllr Ray McAdam (FG) said: “As is the case in any debate, language is important and I say that to our I say that to our friends in the fourth estate [the media] as I say to all public representatives be that councillors, Senators, TDs and Ministers.”

Cllr Janice Boylan (Sinn Féin) said: “We need traffic improvements in the city and at any new plans comes questions and concerns, and we need to acknowledge that there are concerns due to misinformation within the media.”

Cllr Janet Horner (Green) said: “There’s been some very poor communications on this in the media, I’ve heard ‘nightmare’ being thrown around a few times for traffic… a nightmare is what happened to my friend on the quays where she was knocked down by HGV and is still learning to walk because of that.”

She said she hoped that the changes would mean fewer such injuries.

Cllr Hazel de Nortúin (People Before Profit) said: “I welcome an improvement to how the city is ran from a traffic aspect I think the media haven’t been very helpful in how they’ve covered it over the last few days because it’s kind of given bit of a fear to people that overnight we’re going to stop any traffic or any cars that could come true and alter all the way people move within our city.”

Cllr Mannix Flynn (independent) — who has a history of opposing a range of walking, cycling, public transport and public space projects — said everybody wants a nicer city that we can be transported around.

But, he said, the city is currently “A disaster of a place which only not so long ago was subject to riots, and in those riots, public transport was taken off the street, so, if you have a similar situation, how are people to get home if they have no cars?”

Cllr Micheál MacDonncha (Sinn Féin) said: “I’m sick and tired of a certain councillor on this council describing Dublin as a disaster. It’s headline-grabbing and of course, it works with certain media outlets, but it really lets this city council down and lets the people of Dublin down by shouting ‘disaster’.”

Cllr Patricia Roe (Social Democrats) said: “We welcome this plan. It’s been a long time coming and it will be good for the city anything that helps public transport move more smoothly through the core City Centre is to be welcomed and removing cars from — unlike what has been reported in the media — a couple of pinch points in the city centre will achieve this.”

She said: “I think it’s unfortunate that the media discussion around this has been couched in such hysterical terms as people will not be able to access maternity hospitals or people won’t be able to drive through the city centre or people won’t be able to access shops for shopping. I think we need to deal with these issues and we need to have better communications around this.”

The full debate can be watched below.

ALSO READ: Traffic plan key to getting public transport moving says councillors echoing Dublin Bus CEO

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