Ibec heavily criticised for “last-minute interference” in traffic plan aimed at boosting public transport, accelerating climate action

— Ibec did not make a consultation submission even after the council briefed it.
— Intervention branded as “an insult to local government”, “simply nonsense”, “bad faith”.
— Claim that in-depth consultation hasn’t happened made days after it was announced.

National business lobby group Ibec has been heavily criticised by city councillors for its “last-minute interference” in the roll-out of the Dublin City Centre Transport Plan, which aims to boost public transport and accelerate climate action.

...IrishCycle.com's reader-funded journalism won't survive without your help. With over 762,000 views so-far this year, it's not just "avid cyclists" who read this website, but, if you want it to keep going, more support is needed from readers like you. Now, back to the article...

The transport plan, which was widely reported on during its public consultation phase, recently received support from a majority of city councillors. It was also strongly supported by the CEO of Dublin Bus, Billy Hann, who said the measures, including bus gates on the quays’ central sections, were vital to getting buses moving more predictably.

Ibec said it wants the Dublin City Centre Transport Plan “paused” for “further detailed consultation.” But while Ibec is now seeking more consultation, it failed to make a public consultation submission even after Dublin City Council gave 180 of its members and staff an online briefing during the consultation phase.

Cllr Darragh Moriarty (Labour) condemned Ibec’s last-minute and “disingenuous” intervention, which he called an “attempt to derail” the transport plan.

Cllr Moriarty said: “This eleventh-hour intervention from Ibec is totally disingenuous and makes a mockery of the consultation period of the Plan which Dublin City Council organised last year. At Ibec’s own request, DCC put on information and briefing sessions with Ibec members on what these plans would entail. And what did Ibec do? Nothing. They didn’t write so much as a sentence of feedback during the consultation phase. Now, they pipe up, a couple of months out from the first phase of implementation, attempting to derail the entire plan.”

“I’m constantly meeting people in town – delivery drivers, tradespeople, maintenance workers etc – who need to travel into and around town for work. We absolutely must ensure Dublin City Council makes it clear what the best routes for workers through the city are. But ironing out those details and making this plan work doesn’t mean putting the whole thing on pause and kicking it to row Z, as Ibec appears to be hoping for,” he said.

“The aim of the City Centre Transport Plan, is to prioritise road space for those who want to spend time in our city centre, as opposed to those cutting through the city to go somewhere else. Dublin City Council traffic analysis found that 6 in 10 cars are travelling through the city. This results in huge traffic congestion, which we see day in day out. We know the Quays have basically been a car park for years. This needs to change,” he said.

He added: “We cannot allow a few, very loud, voices who failed to engage when they had the chance, now disrupt a well-considered and much-needed plan for our city’s future. Dublin City Council must reject this last-minute rejection and proceed with the implementation of the Transport Plan without delay.”

Cllr Janet Horner (Green) said: “Ibec entering the debate at this point, after the consultations and debates in the Council have concluded to undermine decisions taken is outrageous and an insult to local government. These kind of bad faith interventions should not be entertained at all.”

Cllr Donna Cooney (Green) said: “This is simply nonsense, having been briefed and then not making a submission. After other members of [their] organisation representing Dublin City business made mostly positive submissions. Then, months later, Ibec launch a media campaign for a delay in plans to discourage drive through our city.”

She added: “A plan which favours those whose destination is our city, which benefits our city. Is this an anti Dublin City stance, our city is choked at it’s heart. Let’s do as Paris has and revive our beautiful Dublin.”

Cllr Hazel Chu (Green) said: “Why is progress so slow in the city and why is it always clogged up with traffic? Because of the objections to progressive solutions. Even more frustrating is that there was a public consultation that found majority in support of the plan and Ibec knows that.”

MEP Ciarán Cuffe (Green) said: “It is wrong that Ibec is calling on Dublin City Council to pause the city traffic plan, a plan that helps deliver the low carbon goals and cleaner air that Ibec calls for in their own policy documents.”

The intervention by Ibec was led by Aidan Sweeney, the lobby group’s head of infrastructure and environmental sustainability. In a radio interview on NewsTalk, Sweeney outlined his concerns that waste services and emergency plumbing could be impacted. However, no part of the plan would stop waste services or building maintenance.

In a press release from Ibec, Sweeney claimed, “The proposed traffic changes have been developed independently of other initiatives that are also aiming to develop a reimagined and sustainable city centre into the future.”

This is, however, highly misleading. The Dublin City Centre Transport Plan is based on targets set by councillors in the Dublin City Development Plan, and the plan also sets out to support the current roll-out of BusConnects routes, the Active Travel network, and the council’s Climate Action Plan.

Sweeney said that Ibec wants the transport plan linked with the recommendations of the Government’s Taskforce for Dublin City Centre.

A key point in the Ibec statement and media appearances afterwards was that “further detailed consultation with affected businesses” was needed and hasn’t happened to a sufficient level, but further consultation was already planned, including a workshop to take place today with DublinTown members and officials from Dublin City Council and the National Transport Authority.

This workshop on the details of the implementation was announced last week ahead of the Ibec intervention and is open to the 2,500 DublinTown members. DublinTown is a business improvement district company, and membership is mandatory for all ratepayers operating in its area, which includes most of the busiest shopping streets, such as Henery Street, Grafton Street, College Green, O’Connell Street, and parts of Capel Street and St Stephen’s Green.

In media interviews, Sweeney also referred to how the plan would relate to the national Government’s Moving Together plan, which includes measures such as congestion charges and Low-Emissions Zones. However, the draft Moving Together document outlines how the rollout of such measures will fall to the next Government.

Congestion charges are also not seen as likely until after projects like MetroLink are up and running in the mid or late 2030s.

In an Ibec press release, Sweeney said: “We must also factor in the construction of the Metrolink into the discussion.” But the Dublin City Centre plan is planned to support the reduction of traffic in key locations such as around O’Connell Street, and Tara Street, where MetroLink stations are to be built.

The Irish Times referred to the Ibec press release as “an assessment released on Monday”, but the press release from the lobby group is low on assessment-like details and full of soundbites that go unexplained, such as the claim that the “proposed traffic changes do not adequately reflect the reality of businesses operating within the city centre” in a context where the majority of commuters and shoppers use sustainable transport and where the council has promised that access to car parks will still be possible, motorists will not be able to drive through the core area city centre.

The intervention by Ibec follows a call earlier this month from the Dublin City Centre Traders Alliance for businesses to pay €10-20k each for a legal and PR fight against the traffic plan. The Traders Alliance was set up in 2016 to campaign against the proposed College Green Plaza, and the only public activity it has carried out is to campaign against sustainable transport measures.


  1. When I read about the IBEC intervention, I went straight to the DCC website where you can see the written submissions for the organisations that responded to the consultations and there was nothing for IBEC, but the journalists in RTE and Irish times didn’t even do that, or if they did they didn’t include the fact in their articles. They just accepted what they were given by IBEC and spat it out again without question on their websites which is very disappointing.

  2. The car is clearly never going to be the solution for cities- however it is high time so called ‘business groups’ got serious about buses and variations in bus systems and ideas to solve the problems they speak of – and also that much talked about (before Covid) idea of ‘park and ride’ car parks outside of city limits- which has never been talked about again since.

    Smaller ‘shopper’ buses are very popular in many countries – the over reliance here on the wandering lumbering double decker is excessive I think, especially in the middle of the day when they are half empty. We need far more of the hop on hop off tram like buses, with minimal seating, that encourage shopping bags, not necessarily for 8am commuters.

    I’m surprised Ikea does’t have its own little bus fleet running by now – it does in many countries (free too). Likewise there is no reason why business groups couldn’t look at their own bus systems for shopping centres etc.,

  3. Like all business groups and sock-puppet organisations that pop up to attack active travel plans, ‘consultation’ means ‘veto’.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.