Updated: Dublin City Council chief executive says he’ll meet groups who say traffic plan shouldn’t be delayed

Dublin City Council said late on Saturday afternoon that its chief executive Richard Shakespeare will meet groups who support the Dublin City Transport Plan after yesterday saying that he was unavailable.

UPDATE AT 5.20pm: Dublin City Council said that is “Chief Executive has made himself available to meet them next Wednesday or Thursday.”

UPDATE AT 6.25pm: The Dublin Commuter Coalition tweeted: “The pressure is working, we’ve received word from @hazechu that DCC CEO Richard Shakespeare will make time to meet with us.”

The group added: “We’re still Protesting on Monday. We need to ensure the meeting goes ahead, and that he understands he represents the people of Dublin, not the Car Parks.”

Original article below published at 2.30pm:

Protest planned on Monday after head of Dublin City Council refuses to meet groups who say traffic plan shouldn’t be delayed

— Richard Shakespeare accused of having “enough time in his schedule to meet with a well-funded lobby organisation who have a vested interest in car parks” but not commuter, health, and environment campaigners.

In what has been widely seen as an extraordinary turn of events with the saga of the Dublin City Centre Transport Plan, the chief executive of Dublin City Council has said he is unavailable to meet groups who support the council’s own plan after it was reported he met with a lobby group against the plan.

This has prompted a protest at 5.30pm on Monday, July 8th, at City Hall ahead of a meeting which is to be attended by councillors and the council’s chief executive Richard Shakespeare.

The main element of the plan which is scheduled to go ahead in August is bus gates on the north and south quays at O’Connell Bridge where car traffic is disruptive to public transport but only represents 2% of people being transported in the junctions around the bridge.

On the Today with Claire Byrne show this week, Jean McCabe, CEO of Retail Excellence Ireland, said that an intervention by Emer Higgins, Minister of State with responsibility for business, employment, and retail on behalf of the car-focused lobby group Dublin City Centre Traders Alliance gave them access to Shakespeare.

The Dublin City Centre Traders Alliance — which was set up to oppose the College Green Plaza and whose only apparent activity is lobbying against car-free streets, cycle routes, and bus priority measures — is made up of Brown Thomas Arnotts, Jervis Shopping Centre, Retail Excellence Ireland, Restaurants Association of Ireland, Louis Copeland & Sons, Irish Parking Association, Best Car Parks, and Fitzwilliam Real Estate Capital.

In response to Shakespeare saying he is awaiting an economic assessment report written for the alliance lobby group before he decides if the plan goes ahead next month as planned, a number of groups who support the plan sought an “emergency meeting” with Shakespeare.

The nine signees to a letter looking for the meeting are the Dublin Commuter Coalition, the Dublin Cycling Campaign, An Taisce, Irish Doctors for the Environment, Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, the Sustainability Action Research & Innovation Lead at Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin), the Irish Heart Foundation, I Bike Dublin and The Bike Hub.

But Shakespeare has said he is not available. A reply from his office said: “Mr Shakespeare is not available to meet at this time” and that “The open letter received from the Commuter Coalition will be brought to Mr Shakespeare’s attention.”

On hearing the news, Dublin City-based TD, Neasa Hourigan (Green Party) tweeted: “If this looks like an unelected official setting aside years of a process of policy development, public consultation, and agreed political support on the Dublin Transport Plan cause some car parks owners say so?…that’s probably because it is.”

Jason Cullen, chair of the Dublin Commuter Coalition, said: “We were extremely frustrated to hear from Mr Shakespeare’s office that he is ‘not available’ to meet with the city’s leading health, environmental, academic, and transport campaigners, despite having enough time in his schedule to meet with a well-funded lobby organisation who have a vested interest in car parks.”

He said: “The Dublin City Centre Transport Plan is scheduled to deliver vital infrastructure on the quays next month to ensure bus and cycling priority, but that is seemingly facing delays while Mr Shakespeare awaits a last-minute economic plan from a group that didn’t see it as important enough to mention, across their two responses to the project’s consultation.”

“In the absence of a meeting with the chief executive, the Dublin Commuter Coalition, and the co-signee organisations, have called for a protest on Monday evening at 5.30pm, ahead of the Council meeting at Dublin City Hall, which will be attended by Mr Shakespeare and all 63 Councillors,” he said.

Cullen added: “The Commuters of Dublin City will not stand idly by and allow a solitary civil servant to placate a private lobby group intent on maintaining the status quo in one of the world’s most congested cities. He will hear our collective voices on Monday evening, whether he’s willing to make time in his schedule or not.”

Dublin City Council were contacted last night for comment.

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