Let’s be honest: People can disagree with Dublin’s traffic plan, but anybody who didn’t hear about it was living under a rock

Comment & Analysis: Dublin City Council’s Dublin City Centre Transport Plan is on the agenda for the full monthly council meeting this evening. Before that starts, let’s be honest: People can disagree with the Plan, but anybody who didn’t hear about it was living under a rock, disengaged, or only fooling themselves.

The consultation ran from September 13th to December 1st. The submissions received included 3,487 responses via the consultation portal survey, 11 paper survey submissions, 77 emails, and 17 postal submissions.

The plan gained the attention of the media, with over 40 news items across around 20 different media outlets in print, online, and on air. That’s not including mentions of it on news radio bulletins, panel discussions, and talk shows.

In addition to the huge amount of media coverage, during the consultation, there were meetings with groups, public meetings, leaflets from politicians, and a wide range of social media posts about the plan.

Some have said that this is only a small percentage of Dubliners. But what exactly do they want? Mandatory responses to public consultation?

Are some people lying that they never heard about it? It can be very hard to know or prove that people are lying. For example, one person (whom I’m not going to name here) claimed in a tweet that they had never heard of the plan. But I remembered them tweeting about the plan. After a quick search, I found that they had replied to an article about the plan. Maybe they never read the article?

But it is nobody’s fault but their own that they replied to something without reading it or cannot remember what they read a few months ago or didn’t follow up.

This website reported in February how a number of Dublin City councillors questioned their fellow councillors why they did not inform the public about the consultation on the plan.

This seems like a fantastic question for the councillors, who are now concerned that people didn’t hear about the plan. Surely, with the plan covered at the committee level and so widely in the media, the councillors now complaining should have played their part and warned their constituents about it?

Public consultation

The public consultation ran from September 13th to December 1st, it the ways to reply included:

  1. Online Survey: “A public online survey was published on the Draft Plan consultation webpage. The overarching purpose of the survey was to understand public sentiment towards key principles of the Draft Plan. Further, more targeted consultation exercises will be carried out in relation to specific proposed schemes within the Draft Plan prior to implementation.”
  2. Email Submissions: “The City Centre Transport Projects team email address was provided for soft-copy submissions.”
  3. Postal Submissions: “The City Centre Transport Projects team postal address was provided for hard-copy postal submissions.”
  4. In-person: “A ‘consultation desk’ put in place in the atrium of Dublin City Council’s Civic Offices. A copy of the documents, posters, and paper copies of the survey with a submission box

Dublin City Council press releases

Meetings with groups

Dublin City Council said that it and the NTA hosted the following meetings (approx number of event attendees in brackets):

  • Dublin Town, Lord Mayors Business Forum & An Garda Siochana (20)
  • Chamber of Commerce Infrastructure Committee (80)
  • Online Briefing with IBEC (180)
  • Open Session Dublin Chamber of Commerce (70)
  • Westbury Hotel (1)
  • Public Sector Transformation Week (100, DCC Staff)
  • NTA Transport User Group 13th Oct 2023 — the “NTA Transport User Advisory Group is made up of 15 people who represent: People with disabilities (rep from Irish Wheelchair association, National Council of the Blind and National and Platform of Self Advocates who represents people with intellectual disabilities); Public Transport Users; Pedestrians; Cyclists; Older persons; Students; Taxi Users; Local Link; Chamber of Commerce; Tourism.”

Leafets from politicians

At a council meeting in February, two councillors said they had mentioned details of the plan and the consultation in leaflets to constituents. This includes:

  • Cllr Ray McAdam (Fine Gael), based on the northside, said he distributed 5,500 leaflets.
  • Cllr Claire Byrne (Green Party), based on the southside, said she delivered 7,000 leaflets.

Meetings organised by politicians

The following meetings were organised by politicians:

  • Minister Eamon Ryan and Cllr Claire Byrne held a public meeting at the Dublin Chamber offices on November 30th. It’s worth saying this was attended by more than just the Green Party faithful, with current Fine Gael Fingal councillor and Dublin City Council candidate Punam Rane tweeting about it.
  • Neasa Hourigan TD and Cllr Janet Horner held a meeting at The Teachers Club and via Zoom on October 19th.

Social media

IrishCycle.com found a large number of social media posts about the plan and about articles about the plan. For its part, Dublin City Council said: “Social media posts were published by DCC accounts across three platforms Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The Draft City Centre Transport Plan Presentation (Public Sector Transformation Week) was uploaded to YouTube Video 800 + views.”

Some notable tweets with high view counts: From Cllr Michael Pidgeon on September 13th with 110k views and link to consultation; from Dublin City Council on September 13th with 92.8k views and link to consultation in the third tweet; and from RTE News on September 13th with 94k views with link to article about plan.

Media coverage

Much of the media coverage was inaccurate by way of overhyping the plan’s effect on motorists — there is, for example, no plan for a ban on cars. Yet, if anything the alarmist headlines should have gained the attention of more motorists etc who might have wanted to object to the plan.

According to media monitoring results published by Dublin City Council, media coverage reached an estimated 1.4 million people during the consultation.

IMAGE: Dublin City Council list of media coverage reach.

In this website’s search for media coverage during the consultation period, I did not find the Radio Nova and Sunrise items mentioned above (radio items can be hard to track back), but I did find many more items from newspapers, fully online outlets and broadcasters. If Dublin City Council’s media monitoring is represented by the above list mentioning media outlets, it is highly likely an underestimation of the coverage and its reach.

In some cases, the stories were also making news bulletins for at least hours of the day on some radio stations.

There were a few “head up” types of articles such as this website’s one on September 6th (IrishCycle.com: Radical shake-up of city centre streets to remove cars from quays at O’Connell Bridge) and, on September 8th, on Thejournal.ie: Overhaul of Dublin city centre roads will address cross-town traffic.

During the consultation, the following media coverage referred to the plan and/or the consultation:

September 13th:

September 14:

September 15:

September 19th:

September 21th:

September 25th:

October 8th:

November 11th:

  • RTE Today with Claire Byrne 

November 2th:

November 14th:

November 15th:

November 16th:

November 28th:

November 30th:

December 1st:

Other notable web pages which linked to or covered the plan:


  1. The consultation had 1328 responses from cyclists, vs 661 from private car users. It also didn’t make clear what the proposal was. There was no reference to closing the quays to private cars, for example.

    This is classic rhetorical trick called “motte and bailey”.

    The proposal makes many trips difficult, and will affect the sick, disabled and the poor more than the healthy and wealthy.

    • Re “The consultation had 1328 responses from cyclists, vs 661 from private car users” — cyclists already outnumber motorists at peak times on places like the quays, so it’s not surprising that cyclists would outnumber motorists in the consultation responses. Somebody who cycles may also be more motivated to respond because the lack of space for cycling means that they are endangered. 

      Motorists had more than a fair chance to respond, and the consultation was well-flagged, as per the article above. 

      Re “It also didn’t make clear what the proposal was. There was no reference to closing the quays to private cars, for example.” The full quays are not being closed to private traffic, bus gates are only to be placed on a small section of the quays. But — as you can see above — there was a large number of references in the media to “car ban” etc Some articles and radio items even implied that cars would be banned from a far wider area than what’s to be affected. 
      The bus gates on the quays were a central measure outlined in the documents, presentations and articles.

      Re “The proposal makes many trips difficult, and will affect the sick, disabled and the poor more than the healthy and wealthy” — a huge number of people who are sick, disabled and not well off rely on public transport in Dublin. Those people who use the bus are worse off now because of cars blocking buses — it means elderly, disabled and sick people are left in the rain waiting for buses, and they are mainly being blocked by the healthy and wealthy in their cars. We should maybe look at targeting advertising at the healthy and wealthy in Dublin to leave their cars at home to make way for both buses and the people who need to drive. There is very low car ownership in the city centre. 

      Finally, regarding “This is a classic rhetorical trick called ‘motte and bailey’, “… this might have sounded grand when you typed it, but you’re actually the one using rhetoric rather than logic here. None of what you’re saying rings true or is even half as back and white as you’re making out — as outlined above, there are good reasons why people cycling would respond more, the consultation was well-flagged, the bus gates are central to the plan, and people less well off are more likely not to have cars at all and are left out in the rain waiting for buses because of healthy and wealthy people in their cars.


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