A vote by councillors tonight could delay Dublin City Centre traffic plan by a year; a group also wants all “so-called pedestrianisation reversed”

— Plan is a ‘Pathfinder’ project to accelerate climate action on transport.
— Disabled groups and councils differ on whether consultation follows a UN Convention.
— Group also wants disabled car access on Grafton Street and Henry Street.

Councillors are expected to discuss and vote on a Section 140 Motion this evening, which seeks to restart the public consultation on the Dublin City Centre Transport Plan.

A Section 140 Motion is a power which councillors have to direct council management to carry out an action; it is usually used sparingly. A special council meeting has been called at 6.16pm today to discuss and vote on the motion.

The motion is signed by Cllr Damian O’Farrell, Cllr Nial Ring, Cllr Christy Burke, Cllr John Lyons, Cllr Mannix Flynn, Cllr Noeleen Reilly, Cllr Patricia Roe, and Cllr Cieran Perry. All of them are independent councillors except Cllr Roe, who is in the Social Democrats.

This is Cllr O’Farrell’s second attempt to derail the August rollout of the bus gates. He had put forward a motion to defer the plan at the last council meeting but Cllr Declan Meenagh (Labour), who is visually impaired, instead suggested that the council agree that officials would meet with Disabled Persons Organisations within a month. Councillors and a senior official agreed to this.

Cllr Meenagh said that he and most others use public transport or taxis in the city centre. He said he got to the council meeting on a Luas tram and would go home on a bus.

Disabled Persons Organisations (DPOs) under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), should be given special consideration. The UNCRPD also gives special consideration to councillors with disabilities.

Cllr O’Farrell emailed IrishCycle.com over the weekend and said, “There’ll be no mention [at the meeting today] of blue badges [disabled person’s parking permit/card] or bus corridors, I’d imagine”. He said that “there were many feck ups in the last consultation” and that it was an issue of human rights to participation.

Voice of Vision Impairment (VVI), a Disabled Persons Organisation (DPO) run for and by disabled people, has said that the consultation process infringed on the rights of disabled people under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. At a recent monthly council meeting, Dublin City Council officials and its law agent said that the council were following the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Over the weekend, speaking to this website, Robert Sinnott, co-ordinator with Voice of Vision Impairment, accepted that the council had emailed the group in advance of the consultation and again when the consultation started.

He said that the files put out for public consultation should be fully accessible without anybody asking and that it’s not about one person.

On Saturday, asked if he had contacted the council to request a screen-reader-accessible version of the plan or other contact, Sinnott said that there had been “a bit of a misunderstanding” but that “there’s legal reasons why I cannot go into this and that’s why Damian [O’Farrell] was told he cannot go into it.”

He said it wasn’t about a future legal case but an “out-of-court settlement” that he’s “not at liberty to discuss”. When he called IrishCycle.com on Sunday, he said this was more of a hypothetical situation. He denied what he had told the website the day before.

When asked on Monday afternoon to clarify if there was an issue with an email not being sent to the right address, he said, “I’ve no comment.” He said there is an ongoing legal issue as to why he cannot comment.

Following questions regarding the email, he took issue with IrishCycle.com’s journalism and said that there had been a “great injustice” and the focus should be on that. For the record, IrishCycle.com made it clear from the start that VVI was being contacted for an article, and references were made throughout what would be included.

Cllr O’Farrell, on Monday afternoon by phone, said if an email response was that, the council should have phoned the DPO. Close consultation should include phoning the DPOs. He said if the project is held up, it’s because “human rights have to be respected.”

He said that there was an issue with the consultation and said: “My job is to make sure it is lawful.”

Yvonne Kelly, the council’s law agent, at the last council meeting, said: “The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was signed into law in 2007 by the Irish Government and it was ratified in 2018 now the specific provision that we’re talking about here is article 43 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability which sets out that in the development and implementation of legislation and policies to implement the present Convention that’s the convention itself and in other decision-making processes, such as the decision here, concerning issues relating to persons with disabilities State policy parties shall closely with and actively involve persons with disability including children with disability through their representative organisations.”

“Now that’s what we’re talking about here, and there’s no prescribed format. The obligation here is to engage with those DPO organisations on how they wish to have their consultation and I understand that DCC [Dublin City Council] and many of the elected members here have been engaging with DPOs and it’s been an ongoing process and it is an ongoing process.,” she said.

She referred to the council finalising a new process in December and how the consultation for the plan, which started in September, was before that new process.

Kelly added: “And the DPO consultation process is ongoing, and Brenden [O’Brian, head of traffic] has confirmed that it continues to be ongoing, so just to confirm that it’s not it’s not prescribed, the process is iterative.”

PDFs are widely seen as not accessible

The consultation page had a file called “Draft Dublin City Centre Transport Plan 2023_Accessible.pdf” (which can be found in this link) available at the time of the public consultation, but PDFs are widely seen as not very accessible. The second file, named “Draft City Centre Transport Plan Accessible Version (Word)” (which can be found at this link), was only published online after the consultation.

When asked, Sinnott said he had tried to see if the PDF worked with a screen reader during the consultation; Sinnott also said he couldn’t recall but that he most likely wouldn’t have even bothered to try with a PDF as “madness is trying the same thing and hoping for the same result”.

He also highlighted that the accessible impact statement is not in an accessible format. He said Dublin City Council has previously achieved a 100% accessible consultation with the Duke Street / Anne Street South Public Realm Scheme, which even included screen-reader accessible drawings.

Supporting bus gates or not and “pedestrianisation reversed”?

On Saturday, Sinnott said: “You want me to say, and it would be a good headline, VVI doesn’t support bus gates. I cannot say that without reservation. Firstly our members, we haven’t had a meeting on this with our Dublin reps and anybody else who is interested throughout the country, so, I cannot speak for VVI on that. But where what I can say is that where blue badge vehicles cannot access — and it appears in this case that the remaining lane will be made into a bus gate, is it important the remaining lane, there are two lanes there.”

He said that there are different options, such as on Dawson Street, where local access is also allowed. But on Dawson Street, local access is only allowed to a centre point and no further than the Luas stop — the bus gates on the quays are expected to operate in a similar way, with local access to a point and only buses and taxis beyond that point.

Grafton Street and Henry Street

A Voice of Vision Impairment statement on its website has a policy statement that “all current so-called pedestrianization reversed”. It adds that “The alternative must not be the traditional congestion of the past, but rather, Vehicle Restriction Areas (VRAs) where only some types of vehicle or owner-type are allowed.”

Sinnott said: “What we want with Grafton Street and Henry Street, this is what I said on Pat Kenny [radio show] on Newstalk; Grafton Street and Henry Street were done in the early 80s and it was done at a time where there wasn’t much consideration for disabled people anywhere.”

He said that some people with disabilities need door-to-door access. He also said footpath height kerbs are needed for blind people to navigate, and tactical navigation stips are not a replacement for them.

A request to interview a senior Dublin City Council official was made over the weekend.


  1. Having a disability should not give you more rights than everyone else to door to door car access. That’s completely disproportionate and seems disingenuous.

    Hopefully the madness is seen for what it is with the comments on Grafton Street and Henry street.

    Thank you for covering this very important issue, I hope them knowing the public is watching and paying attention with upcoming elections will help the council to stay strong in the face of this.

  2. The groups pushing for vehicle access on pedestrian streets should be legally accountable when the accidents happen. It’s absolute idiocy and as someone else pointed out in an earlier comment skews the equality issue. Reading the list of councillors pushing the delay, no surprises there. They offer the city no value


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