Junior Minister’s attempt to delay Dublin City traffic plan “until at least 2025” is “outrageous”

City councillors and campaigners have questioned the last-minute intervention by a junior Government Minister seeking to delay the Dublin City Centre Transport Plan — a Pathfinder plan aimed at accelerating climate action — around a month before it is planned to be rolled out.

RTE reported that Emer Higgins, Minister of State with responsibility for business, employment and retail, is to ask Dublin City Council to postpone the plan “until at least 2025.”

The intervention comes days after the State broadcaster repeated misleading claims of Dublin City Traders Alliance, spreading misinformation about the spending power of city centre visitors by mode of transport. The Traders Alliance is heavily linked to car park owners and operators.

RTE reported that a lobby group cited “the National Transport Authority’s Dublin City Centre Shopper Survey 2022 which it said indicates that car users spend significantly more than those using public transport”, but the 2022 survey found that “Sustainable modes of transport account for 75% of daily spend in the city centre with car drivers accounting for 24% of spend.”

Minister Higgins’s intervention was criticised this morning by councillors and campaign groups.

Dublin Commuter Coalition, a sustainable transport users’ advocacy group, said: “This is absolutely unacceptable Ministerial overreach by Emer Higgins. We need our Transport Ministers to ensure the Dublin City Centre Transport Plan goes ahead as scheduled… not delayed because of a well-funded lobby of a few prominent businesses.”

The group added: “We expect all Dublin City Council councillors of government and non-government parties to quickly come out and show their support for the Dublin Transport Plan, given they agreed to it in their governing group just a week ago.”

I Bike Dublin, a campaign group, said: “This is an outrageous attempt by Emer Higgins TD to override the democratic processes of local governance in Dublin City Council. We trust the ruling pact will reject it and abide by their commitment to ‘safeguard and implement’ the Dublin Transport Plan.”

Cllr Cat O’Driscoll (Soc Dems) said: “We just elected 63 councillors to represent the city of Dublin, so why is a minister now overstepping us to undo our work which meets the goals of our statutory City Development Plan? Emer Higgins [needs to] sit down with us councillors to learn about the damage traffic does to Dublin.”

Cllr Donna Cooney (Green Party) said: “The ‘Delivering for Dublin’ agreement by Dublin City Council ruling group has all agreed plans to be delivered. This is a government climate action Pathfinder project. Dublin City Councillors already voted against a motion to delay the project. Retail will most likely see an increase, as happens in every other city and town when people are given priority.”

She added: “People will still be able to use all transport (including cars) into the city. But those driving through the city, whose destination is not the city centre, will be diverted. Minister for State should not be trying to unduly influence against the local government democratic process and a senior Minister’s climate action pathfinder project.”

ALSO READ: 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

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