Friday May 15th saw the launch of a new local residents’ association for the Grand Canal Dock area. The launch was hosted by Bank of Ireland at their premises of 1 Grand Canal square, adjacent to the Bord Gais Energy Theatre.
The event was well-attended by locals and business representatives, as well as city councillors Ciaran Binchy, Dermot Lacy and Claire Byrne, of Fine Gael, Labour and the Green Party respectively. Refreshments were laid on and the atmosphere was convivial and engaged.
Proceedings were set underway by Marcus Reed, a resident of Hanover Quay and a member of the Interim Committee of the residents’ association. He explained to all assembled that GCDRA is a constituted organisation of volunteers, the Constitution being available to read on their website, and that after the official launch, a first annual General Meeting will soon be held, where the first Committee will be formally selected by vote. In the meantime, the Interim Committee is seeking volunteers to help co-ordinate projects for the community within an area which is “quite young, in its current incarnation.”
Next, the floor was given to Kevin Humphries TD, who thanked Marcus and congratulated him and his collaborators on the rapid early progress in forming the Residents’ Association. Minister Humphries highlighted the presence of the local councillors and representatives of the Garda Siochana also in attendance. He reminisced on earlier eras in the Grand Canal Dock area and his own days on the Docklands Authority committee, and wished GCDRA every success in the future.
Before the floor was opened to questions, Patrick McCabe of the landscape design and architecture firm Redscape gave a brief, detailed presentation of the long-mooted Chocolate Park development, a proposed public space which is to be sited between Hanover Quay and Sir John Rogerson’s Quay. The plan, which will be tabled before local authorities over the summer for preliminary assessment, is ambitious and very contemporary, combining green space, an adventure playground and moveable features that could include an outdoor cinema screen, and a marquee for outdoor events.
Lastly, and most complex of the proceedings, came the Q&A. Betty Ashe, known from St Andrew’s Resource Centre and currently External Liason Co-ordinator with the Docklands Development Authority, described her own perception of the three phases of great change the area has seen, from underdeveloped, to developed to its current Silicon Docks era, and offered her own assistance for anyone who may want to reach out.
Other suggestions from the attendees included concern over managing vandalism to local parks (including the new proposal), and the possible inception of a 30kmph speed limit for the entire area. Some residents had issues surrounding noise from the post-theatre taxis who patronise the Bord Gais Theatre, which is constant throughout the week, and the lack of clear demarcations for cycle paths, which is a risk factor for pedestrians.
Councillor Dermot Lacey took a moment, riffing off comments made by his colleague Councillor Binchy to state that all issues raised were resolvable, that it was heartening to see so many in attendance, and he stressed that given the size of each of their constituencies, much larger since the council elections last year, that people should take the initiative to get in touch to air their grievances and share their thoughts.
The evening concluded with the offer for anyone present to step next door to Café H for refreshments and further conversation.
If you are interested in becoming involved with GCDRA, find them on Facebook or see their site at www.gcdra.wordpress.com
By Rúairí Conneely