DCC Notes for SEAC meeting, July 2019

Photo: Eugene Carolan.

Compiled by Eoin Meegan

Fresh from the May elections the South East Area Committee (SEAC) got proceedings underway on July 8th with Cllr Dermot Lacey (LAB) taking up his new role as Area Committee Chairperson.

The meeting began with a presentation by Elaine Sullivan, one of the area planners for the Dublin 4 area, outlining the planning application for the development of the Poolbeg peninsula, notably the SDZ zone on the former Irish Glass Bottle site, and the adjoining Fabrizia lands.

This was followed by a presentation by Kevin Rossiter on the Dublin bike scheme arising from a motion earlier this year calling for the scheme to be extended to Ballsbridge and the surrounding area.

The Poolbeg development was generally welcomed by the members, while the timeline for any future expansion of the Just Eat Dublin bike scheme, and what form that would take, is still unclear and awaits an evaluation of the market and the direction the scheme will go.  

Nowhere to bathe

The arbitrary closure of beaches to bathers which dogged the city last year was back on the agenda following a number of “no bathing” water notices popping up over the summer. Apart from the general inconvenience to the public, the specific problem of overflows at the Ringsend Wastewater plant was raised by Cllr Claire Byrne (GP). The issue of real time testing and the reasons for the closures became the subject of some debate.  

Cllr James Geoghegan FG) began: “Because we don’t have real time testing [the beaches] remains closed to bathers, and there would be a period in which we could get back in the water if there was real time monitoring, which I understand is an inexpensive thing to deliver… We know that it’s not just the Ringsend Wastewater treatment plant that’s contributing to the water being unswimmable, it’s also the Ailesbury pump station, it’s the Elm Park stream, there’s a whole heap of factors that are contributing to the poor bathing water qualities.”

He called for the council to be updated as to which phases of the Ringsend Wastewater treatment plant are likely to precipitate closure. Cllr Hazel Chu (GP) while agreeing, took Cllr Geoghegan to task on one point: “We talk about real time testing and it actually is available, and the current testing time is three days… but what we need to bring in is on the day turnaround.” Which, given proper investment she argued is highly possible. She also expressed the need to implement a real time text alert to facilitate the public.  

Cllr Manix Flynn (Ind) however, was in no doubt as to where the blame lay: “Whatever about everything else in terms of real time monitoring the point of the matter is that the system that’s there in Ringsend is openly dumping sewage into the water and will continue to do that until we have the proper facility.”

He went on to say that it’s not a leak or an accident but a deliberate situation. “In my opinion, you just have to tell the public not to go in there and swim at all, because I wouldn’t trust the kind of information that’s coming ou… if you bear in mind that Irish Water didn’t even bother to inform the public or Dublin City Council, it took a member of the public and their own drone to do so… It’s an outrageous situation to happen here, and that’s the crux of the matter, you can have all the real time [testing] you like but if a State company is going to dump that kind of effluent into the water, well then we’re in deep trouble.” The motion was accepted by the committee.

Reducing Speed into Ringsend 

Cllr Kevin Donoghue (LAB) proposed that the speed limit on the main road through Ringsend into Irishtown be reduced to 30 km/h. 

The reply was: “Ringsend area has been included in the fourth phase of the 30 km/h speed limit introduction. This proposal will be going for public consultation during summer 2019. Following the adoption, and sealing of the new bye-laws in the autumn 2019, works will commence to erect the relevant signage in the new areas in summer 2020.

The main road through Ringsend into Irishtown is an approved arterial route. Dublin City Council will be reviewing the speed limits on the arterial and other routes and based on the findings from the review will make a decision if changes are required. This will take place after implementation of 30 km/h is fully completed. It is planned to do so by the end of 2020.

The selection process will still be focused on areas where schools are located and areas that have previously had significant engineering interventions introduced. It will also be a priority to ensure that there is a flow from one 30 km/h zone to another rather than a stop-start approach; this is to ensure that road users are travelling at constant speeds where possible and also not to add any confusion and/or a proliferation of signage in the areas.”

Yoga in the Park 

Yoga and fitness classes have become a common sight in our public parks throughout the summer time in recent years, organised by Happenings.ie in association with DCC.

Cllr Deirdre Conroy (FF) called for the reinstatement of the outdoor yoga class on Saturday mornings in Dartmouth Square, which apparently had ceased. “This is something that the local residents and people in general really appreciate so I don’t know why it’s been banned,” she said.

Cllr Byrne (GP) who had this down as a motion previously, said the problem wasn’t confined to Dartmouth Square but affected other parks too. She called for someone in the Parks Department to provide the committee with an update on what’s happening “as we’re nearly half-way through the summer and it’s a hugely important facility for the citizens of the city in order to have affordable, accessible yoga classes for the health and mental health of our citizens.” 

However, Cllr Mary Freehill (LAB) argued that the subject was more complex, and raised the issue of permanent studios who paid their taxes and, one in particular she mentioned, found their customer numbers had fallen to zero. “It is a bit like people who are selling stuff along the canal, and the local shops who are paying their rates then can’t sell anything at lunch time.” She pointed out that while not against the park facilities there was a need for balance and fairness to be exercised in this matter.  

Cllr Conroy in reply said, “nobody would want anyone’s private business to be affected, but this is an entirely different thing, it is an outdoor event open to the public… in the open square children can be brought in with their parents, and dogs can be brought it, so there’s things like that that can never be brought into a studio. The yoga teachers themselves are being paid, it’s five euros per person, so it’s very affordable.

Cllr Flynn (Ind) thought the park facility was a very good thing, but they should try to include the studio owners too. He proposed they ask the OPW why Stephen’s Green and the Iveagh Gardens are not being used for this facility as well. The motion was agreed which would allow the yoga to continue. 

Wildflowers and Biodiversity

Cllr Chris Andrews (SF) proposed that this area committee agrees and requests that DCC sow wildflowers as proposed by Donnybrook Tidy Towns on the median strip from Donnybrook Church up to RTÉ entrance as it would help pollinators and also reduce maintenance costs.

The council replied: “Park Services welcomes the planting of wildflowers and flowering species which increases biodiversity in the city.

If a representative of Donnybrook Tidy Towns contacts the undersigned [Mary Taylor, Executive Manager, South City, tel.: 222 5112, email: mary.taylor@dublincity.ie] we will be very happy to assist them in their endeavours and also in selecting suitable locations.”

And on a similar theme Cllr Hazel Chu (GP) proposed that this local area committee would sow wildflowers on grass verges without mowing throughout the year to both save cost and support pollinators and increase biodiversity.

The reply was: “Park Services supports the planting of wildflowers and other flowering species which increases biodiversity in the city. However, such planting is labour intensive at certain times of the year and therefore safe access is essential during these times.

Therefore, other means of increasing pollinator planting and enhancing biodiversity e.g. seasonal bulb planting, may be more appropriate and will be considered for grass verges.”

An emergency motion put down by Cllr Dermot Lacey (LAB) called for traffic officials to immediately engage with residents of Seafort Avenue regarding two proposed new pedestrian crossings, and the removal of the already limited parking for residents. The council replied that it was willing to discuss these matters with the Dept of Education, and with local residents, and also to try and provide parking permits for residents of Seafort avenue on surrounding roads.