Attempt by group of councillors to halt Dublin transport plan fails

Independent councillors sought to rerun public consultation but Green and Labour councillors said doing so would delay improvements

An attempt to halt the implementation of the Dublin City Centre Transport Plan, which aims to reduce the dominance of cars on the city’s streets, has been defeated by councillors.

A group of seven Independent councillors along with Social Democrat councillor Patricia Roe put forward a motion to rerun public consultation on the plan, following assertions that consultation held last year was not compliant with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities UNCRPD.

The council and National Transport Authority (NTA) plan aims to “remove traffic that has no destination in the city”, with almost two out of every three motorists passing through rather than stopping in town.

The first measures, “bus gates” on Bachelors Walk and Aston Quay restricting passage to public transport only, as well as a ban on private traffic turning left from Westland Row on to Pearse Street, will be implemented in early August.

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More than 80 per cent of submissions to a consultation process on the draft plan late last year supported the reallocation of road space from private vehicles to buses, cyclists and pedestrians.

However, a group of eight councillors led by Independent councillor Damian O’Farrell put forward a motion instructing the chief executive of the council to set aside the original consultation on the grounds there had not been adequate consultation with disabled person’s organisations (DPOs).

“Prioritisation of the views and opinions of DPOs is not evident in the report” on the public consultation, the motion said. “There was no recognition of the legal standing of DPOs as the only representative organisations in terms of disability proofing under the UNCRPD.”

The report did not show any evidence of “close consultation and active involvement” of DPOs, the councillors’ motion continued.

The motion was signed by Independent councillors Mannix Flynn, Nial Ring, Christy Burke, Noeleen Reilly, John Lyons, Cieran Perry, as well as Mr O’Farrell and Ms Roe.

Mr O’Farrell told the council meeting the DPOs had been “treated like dirt” and “disregarded” during the consultation process. “The spirit of the UNCRPD was completely trashed,” he said.

Mr Burke said he was “beginning to think lately that BusConnects corridors and cycleways are more important than human beings and people’s rights”.

Fianna Fáil’s Deirdre Heney said it would be “no harm at all if we were to rerun the process” as she had “no faith in the NTA” due to the way it had decided to remove two bus stops to be replaced by one on the Malahide Road.

The Green Party’s Michael Pidgeon said it was not acceptable that “we set aside, or bin, or ignore the 3,500 people” who had taken part in the public consultation process.

Labour’s Declan Meenagh said the transport plan would “speed up the buses and make it easier for a lot of disabled people to access the city centre”. Delaying the implementation of the plan would “be delaying access and independent living,” Green Party councillor Donna Cooney said.

Council chief executive Richard Shakespeare outlined how DPOs had been contacted before, during and since the consultation process. Changes had been made to the plan to reflect some of their concerns, including minimising the lengths of the bus gates, and adjusting their times “to be less than 24 hours so allowing access to the area at night time”.

An amended motion was put forward by Mr Pidgeon and seconded by Mr Meenagh calling on Mr Shakespeare to arrange “close consultation” meetings with any DPO who wishes to be consulted on the plan. This motion, which was supported by Green, Labour, Sinn Féin and some Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael councillors, was passed by 25 votes to 22 votes, meaning the measures in the plan can be implemented.

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