The Lacey Report

By Dermot Lacey

At the time of writing this I am in the closing stages of the 2024 Local Elections campaign so I want to thank all the very many people who have met us at their doors, on the streets and at meetings. The courtesy of so many and the intelligent, relevant questions shows our democracy in more good health than many might think.

Despite the elections the ordinary work has continued:

There have been meetings in relation to the Bus Connects projects in Ranelagh and another in the Ballsbridge area. These focused on the detail of the plans and how they would impact on local communities. I have requested An Bord Pleanala to leave the details of Bus Connects to Dublin City Council so that we can modify and improve based on real local knowledge. I also attended a very constructive meeting of the Dublin Cycling Campaign where I highlighted the need for active engagement with local communities.

It has been the season of Residents Association meetings and I had great pleasure attending the AGM of the Sandymount and Merrion Residents Association, the Herbert Park Area Residents Association, Milltown Residents Association and the Pembroke Road Association. All these bodies do great work and play a constructive role in enhancing their areas.

Sadly, one of the great drivers of community in our area, Siobhan Cuffe who was Chairperson of the Pembroke Road Association, unexpectedly passed away in April which was a shock to her family and many friends. Siobhan made a huge impact and will be missed. May She Rest in Peace.

On the good news front, I have received confirmation from the ESB that they will start repairing and then painting the old Poolbeg Chimney Stacks later this year. Growing up as a child we used to refer to them as Uncle Danny and Auntie Lana – the names of my real Aunt and Uncle Danny and Lana McCurtain of Lea Road. I have also initiated a public competition through Dublin City Council on a future for the old Baths on the Strand. Quite frankly we need to do something before these old structures become a real danger – particularly to children playing and I would welcome all ideas.

On the 17th April I was privileged to preside at the raising of the Green Flag in Ringsend Park to acknowledge the incredible work done by the Parks Department there to meet very stringent environmental standards. I had the opportunity to do so as Chairperson of the South East Area Committee of the City Council – a position which I have, very unusually, held for the full duration of this Council term. I am very grateful to my colleagues in all Parties and none who have supported me in this role.

Shamefully right next to that Park we have had continued vandalism at the Playground in Sean Moore Park. This is an attack on the community and I would appeal to anyone with any knowledge or information of who is doing this to report it to the Gardaí in Irishtown. The children of the area deserve a safe place to play. The Council is again reviewing the possibility of installing CCTV at this location but it should not have to do so.

On the 25th April I had the honour to present a set of proposals to Seanad Eireann on Local Government reform. I have long had the simple belief that real local government reform can transform Ireland and I really hope that the current Seanad hearings can contribute to the undoing of the damage done to Ireland and Local Government by successive Governments removing powers from the local level of government.

One of the exciting new developments for our area is the proposed Baggotonia Festival that is planned for September. I have been very pleased to have assisted with planning for this from the outset and I look forward to a programme centred on the great cultural heritage of the wider Baggot Street area. I have also enjoyed attending events organised as part of the wonderful Ranelagh Arts Festival and congratulate their Committee on a wonderful, stimulating and enjoyable programme.

The ongoing failure to properly deal with the issue of Asylum Seekers continues to be a major focus of my work. Balancing the needs of people who are fleeing danger and poverty while protecting the environmental and health requirements of the local communities requires work and persistence. I am committed to trying to do that as best I can in a spirit of honest and committed endeavour.

Finally, the coming Local Elections will be the first since 1974 that my friend and colleague Mary Freehill will not be on the ballot paper. Mary represented the Dublin 4 area since she was co-opted to replace Ruairi Quinn on Dublin City Council in 1977 and with one brief break has represented the Dublin 4 and 6 part of Dublin Bay South ever since. She served as Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1999-2000 and has been a true servant of Dublin. I wish Mary every health and happiness in her retirement after over 40 years’ service on Dublin City Council.

Finally, finally, as a break from the Local Election campaign I travelled over to Croke Park on the 19th May to savour the wonderful, incomparable Bruce Springsteen.  “The Boss” was certainly back in town. I hope I will be too.