DCC Notes

The iconic public toilets built in 1943 which were demolished in 2014 after 70 years, with promises of the site at that time remaining at the heart of the community.
Photo: NewsFour archive.

The DCC South East Area Committee (SEAC) met on January 13th with Cllr Dermot Lacey (LAB) in the chair.

Docklands Visitor Experience Development Plan
Ms Caroline O’Keefe from Fáilte Ireland gave a presentation on the Docklands Visitor Experience Development Plan. Ms O’Keefe told the committee that Fáilte Ireland has spent the last 18 months consulting with stakeholders in the area and is about to move into a period of public consultation on environmental aspects of the development plan.
She said the Docklands Visitor Experience Development is a five-year plan to drive visitors and increased revenue to the area and is the first of its kind in Dublin. Visitors canvassed by Fáilte Ireland wanted a further experience beyond the existing attraction of the EPIC museum and in particular wanted to “engage with the water”.
Ms O’Keefe highlighted the example of the Norman Way in Wexford and New Ross, where development of new visitor experiences had led to a 10% increase in visitors to the attractions involved, and emphasised the importance of all stakeholders in the area working together to “get your message across.”
She used the visit of two imaginary US tourists to Dublin Docklands in 2022 to illustrate where the development of the visitor experience in Docklands could go, with visits to the Customs House, the planned food market in CHQ and over the river to the enhanced tour experience run by Windmill Lane in Ringsend.
Throughout the presentation Ms O’Connell emphasised the importance of developing a narrative for the area combining the local and maritime history and the present-day identity of the area as a place of business and technology innovation.
Commenting after the presentation Cllr Deirdre Conroy (FF) said that Docklands “desperately needs more tourism.” She highlighted the problem of increased traffic issues there as a result of multi-storey developments with underground car parking and of the need for DCC to be aware of the sterility and dearth of activity at ground floor level in any new development in the area.
Cllr Pat Dunne (United Left) welcomed efforts to increase tourism but made the point that, while DCC contributes to infrastructural development in Dublin, DCC does not itself receive any increased revenue from an increase in tourism visitors. He asked that Fáilte Ireland work with DCC to look for ways in which the Council might have a share of increased tourism revenues.
Cllr Mary Freehil (Lab) regretted that since the abolition of Dublin Tourism, which had City Council representatives taking part, there was no democratic element to the development of tourism or consultation with the council when developing tourism policy.
Cllr James Geoghegan (FG) asked if the proposed whitewater rafting facility in Georges Dock was part of the development plan. Ms O’Connell said the whitewater rafting facility is in the plans to “animate the area.”
Cllr Kevin Donoghue (Lab) welcomed the presentation, but said he’d like to see more emphasis on the “rich working class history” of Ringsend in particular, which he said had suffered from a process of gentrification.
Cllr Flynn (Ind) said development in Docklands needs to be re-aligned back into the city. He questioned the use of the term “Docklands Experience” and said that the local community has not really been engaged and that the area closes down at night because of the prevalence of offices. He said “If you cannot keep the workforce, who are in their tens of thousands there after after five o’cock, you are finished.”
Cllr Lacey agreed with Cllrs Dunne and Freehill on the need for a bed night tax to help fund spending on infrastructure and maintenance by the council. Picking up on Cllr Donghue’s comments, he pointed out there is “a huge body of material” already gathered by Terry Fagan and the Docklands Folklore Museum which should be harnessed. He also mentioned unused structures such as the power station in Ringsend and the Martello Tower in Sandymount, which could be part of a tourist trail.

Matters Arising From Traffic Advisory Group Meeting On Dec 12, 2019
Cllr Lacey asked Neil O’Donoghue, Executive Area Engineer when the council might expect to hear from a focus group meeting promised in relation to traffic safety issues relating to St. Conleth’s School in Clyde Road. This relates to a written reply from Mr O’Donoghue to a question put to him on behalf of Donnybrook Tidy Towns highlighting the need for a number of enhancements to road safety around St Conleth’s, particularly at drop off and pick up times. Mr O’Donoghue said it was likely to be March before the outcome from the focus group and engagement with the council on that outcome.

Cambridge Road & Library Square, Ringsend
Cllr Claire Byrne (GP) asked about the time-frame for development of Cambridge Road and Library Square in Ringsend. Senior Executive Officer, Brian Hanney said that there is work to be done in relation to Part A Planning for Cambridge Road and Library Square redevelopment and that it is hoped to get to the Part A Planning stage as early as possible and councillors will be kept advised. Mr Hanney said that, at a meeting last year, local businesses in Library Square raised the issue of retaining parking outside their premises. He believed there was now a solution which will be acceptable to people in Ringsend and hoped to enter public consultation with them as soon as possible. Very important for the heart of Ringsend.
What Happens To Abandoned Bikes?
Cllr Anne Feeney (FG) raised an interesting point when she asked what happens to abandoned bikes when removed by the council. For the council, Dominic Hession responded saying there were 397 abandoned bikes removed last year. Bikes identified as possibly abandoned are tagged, giving the owner two weeks to retrieve them. After that they’re scheduled for removal. After a month in storage the bikes are handed to a bicycle shop which takes what parts they can from them. In a batch of 30 or 40 such bikes there are a few that can be refurbished. The council agrees a price with the bike shop for these and the money goes to charity. None of the bikes go to landfill anymore. All are reused or scrapped, making this a green solution.

A motion from Cllr Lacey (Lab) sought a report from the Manager on what options Dublin City Council is considering in relation to the former public toilets site at the junction of Anglesea Road, Ballsbridge and discusses what options councillors consider might be suitable. Cllr Lacey saw no reason why public toilets could not be reinstated on the site, given the large number of people attending events nearby at the RDS and The Aviva Stadium. Cllr Flynn (Ind) suggested this was a good site for a commemorative public statute, citing the example of Dr Noel Browne as a candidate for such a statue. This motion and another to have bike parking facilities installed to facilitate people using The Hive in Herbert park were adopted.
The final motion, proposed by Cllr Danny Byrne (FG) called on the council to comply with the law in relation to regulating properties being let on websites such as Airbnb contrary to legislation. Cllr Byrne pointed out that there are currently three extra Airbnb properties a week being advertised despite this legislation, and that the target of reducing these by a thousand a year would mean it would be five years before all non-compliant properties were eliminated, at a time when such properties were needed on the Dublin rental market.
Cllr Costelloe (GP) said that Airbnb landlords should be paying rates, and that it was wrong to censure the Council rather than Airbnb. Cllr Freehill and others supported this point and criticised the regulation of Airbnb by the government.