Summer 2014 Vol 3 No 2
Newsletter of the Dún Laoghaire Community Association
Local Taxi Forum Our local taxi service is an essential part of our public transport network in Dún Laoghaire, however, it is considerably undervalued by our County Council. The local taxi drivers are daily encountering problems with the inadequate number and the location of the rank spaces provided in the Town. These issues can and should be resolved by the establishment of a structured dialogue between officials and the local taxi drivers. We need to establish a ‘Local Taxi Forum’ consisting of County Council officials, An Garda Síochána and representatives of the local taxi drivers to resolve any difficulties through meaningful consultation and forward planning. The County Council must recognise that our local taxi drivers are an integral part of the transportation network and ensure representation for the taxi drivers on the County Council’s Strategic Policy Committee on Transportation. Our local taxi drivers provide a vital service to our communities and this must be recognised by the County Council.
Established in 2001 to represent the residents of the central Dún Laoghaire area and to campaign for a fair deal for our hometown of Dún Laoghaire and its citizens
The New Central Library and Cultural Centre is nearing completion and is due to open sometime in the autumn. Public anger over the design, location, size and overall cost of the facility is widespread throughout the greater Dún Laoghaire area and amongst all sections of our community. Candidates from the various political parties that supported this development in November 2009 are getting a deservedly blunt and negative reception on the doorsteps. The response from some of the County Councillors involved is astounding as they shamefully endeavour to blame everybody else for their actions – it was the fault of the former County Manager, the officials, the planners, the architects – anybody but themselves. Don’t be fooled by such nonsense. Cllr. John Bailey (Fine Gael) who praised the development in his own newsletters as “a great new facility” and “a centre to be proud of that we can all enjoy” recently said that “it’s a monstrosity now”. Incredibly, Cllr Bailey claims that the plans he voted for were different and now he is “calling for two or three storeys to be taken off it”. The rising height of the building over the past two years was very evident to all except, it seems, to the ever visible Cllr. Bailey. The other County Councillors contesting the Local Elections who voted for this development are Cllr. Jane Dillon Byrne and Cllr. Cormac Devlin. Public anger and frustration about the “monstrosity on the seafront” and decrying the over €36 million of public money poured
into this grandiose development will achieve little if hard lessons are not learned by those responsible. None of the County Councillors who voted for this development in November 2009 deserve to be re-elected on May 23rd. They and their party colleagues in Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour failed to protect and promote the interests of the community. Although the public anger generated by the New Library is undoubtedly justified, the people of Dún Laoghaire must not be lured into thinking that it is the only pressing issue facing Dún Laoghaire in these Local Elections. The Housing Crisis is hitting all sections of our community, devastating families and destroying the lives of many who have to cope with unemployment, cutbacks in social services and a whole raft of new taxes and charges. As a community, we have endured two decades of bad planning decisions, poor public representation, meaningless or non-existent public consultation, cutbacks in services and a near total lack of accountability at the County Hall. Dún Laoghaire as the ‘county town’ of Dún Laoghaire Rathdown has been neglected, starved of investment and plunged into near dilapidation by a County Management lured into out-oftown speculative property developments at Dundrum, Cherrywood and Sandyford. Voting along party lines, the majority of our County Councillors failed Dún Laoghaire and, as a town already shackled by an insidious parking regime, they hastened its demise during the recession.
We must, as a strong, proud and resilient community, look to ourselves to channel the anger and frustration we feel about our hometown to make a real difference on May 23rd by VOTING FOR DÚN LAOGHAIRE, choosing only candidates with a proven track record of putting OUR COMMUNITIES FIRST. The future of Dún Laoghaire is in your hands on Friday May 23rd – please don’t let our hometown down!
PAYING €800 IN “PARKING TAX” NEW NOVEL FROM LOCAL AUTHOR After the amazing success of his first novel ‘Steaks and Stout’ published in August 2013, local author Stephen Duffy of Desmond Avenue is set to publish his second novel at a reception to be held at Dunphy’s Corner in the coming weeks. Like the first book, this latest offering promises to be hilariously funny, enjoyable and a very captivating read – highly recommended. Congrats Stephen.
Now that the Local Property Tax has been levied right across the State, residents in Dún Laoghaire find that they are paying anything up to €800 more in local taxes than others living elsewhere in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown. Residents living in the large ‘municipal car-park’ otherwise known as the ‘Town of Dún Laoghaire’ are forced to pay €45.00 per annum to park their car outside their home. As many homes in the central Dún Laoghaire area have no gardens, off street parking is not an option. The Residential Parking Permit allows the holder to park in one or two streets near their homes, however, move outside these restrictive zones and they must pay €2.00 or €1.50 per hour. Older or infirm residents and those with very young children need to use their cars on a daily basis to go shopping, church services, school runs or for medical or other appointments. Unable to walk around the Town, they have no choice but to park outside their ‘home zone’ and, in doing so, they incur huge annual costs in, what are, in reality extra local taxes. For example, based on just 50 weeks per annum, take an elderly couple who attend church services daily, do a weekly shop, have a monthly medical appointment and, of course, pay for their Residential Parking Permit, they fork out a whopping €793 extra tax per annum for living in Dún Laoghaire. Residents living in this ‘municipal car-park’ have to pay for Visitor Parking Permits for any relatives, friends or workmen calling to their homes. Also, if any work to their homes requires a skip, then a further €25.00 is payable. The County Council argues that this is simply a ‘charge for a service’ imposed as a traffic management measure. This very questionable ‘traffic management measure’ raises almost €5.5 million annually with an operational cost of €1,002,300 and a further cost on parking enforcement of €1,087,900. So now you have it, for a paltry profit of just €3 million, the County Council operates a system that has destroyed the commercial life of Dún Laoghaire. The punitive parking regime is hitting us all. Was it your neighbour who got the 26 tickets on the car while away on holidays and faced a bill of over €1,000 which necessitated a solicitor and two appeals? Was it your neighbour who had to pay €8,000 for a drive in for her car for which the Council initially looked for €30,000? Was it your neighbour who had to pay €25 per day for a skip while renovating their new home? The Dún Laoghaire Community Association has been fighting 'city hall' on this issue for years with little or no help from our County Councillors from the political parties. In fact, at times, they have actively worked against the best interests of the town and its residents. If you’re a holder of a Residential Parking Permit we need your help now to have your voice heard on this tax. Please VOTE No. 1 for the Community Association’s
preferred candidate, Michael Merrigan, Independent – Non-Party on May 23rd.
NOT THE TIME FOR NOVICES Amongst the 21 candidates contesting the Local Elections for the Dún Laoghaire Local Election Area (LEA) are party-liners, political hacks, naïve newbies, opportunists, commercial protestors, veterans of past political wars and complete novices. Dún Laoghaire cannot afford the luxury of electing ‘one issue protestors’ or ‘learn-on-the-job’ councillors. It’s crunch time for our hometown – we need County Councillors who are experienced campaigners with a solid track record of community action, who know the issues, understand the system, who are not shackled by party politics and who have no other agenda except the best interests of the community. We have issues that need experience campaigners such the proposed Urban Beach development which poses very serious environmental and pollution issues, the on-going neglect of the Dún Laoghaire Baths and, of course, many more planning issues coming down the line. This is why the Dún Laoghaire Community Association asked Michael Merrigan to contest the Local Election as its preferred candidate for Dún Laoghaire. Michael has a solid track record stretching back twenty-five years of community action, serving on community committees, County Council Strategic Policy Committees, Steering Groups and Event Organising Committees. He is a former Chairman of the Association and of Dún Laoghaire Town Football Club. I ask you to give Michael Merrigan your Number One Vote on May 23rd. Ann Joyce, Hon Secretary, DLCA. Michael Merrigan's Local Election Manifesto is available on www.facebook.com/vote.merrigan.no.1
DÚN LAOGHAIRE OR ‘DONE BENIDORM’ The recent controversy about the New Central Library has ignited a public awareness of the wonderful architectural legacy that we’ve inherited in Dún Laoghaire. Many Facebook pages and groups devoted to the town and its history have emerged over the past year and they’re hugely popular. Old photographs, stories and reminiscences are shared with fans from home and around the world. Long lost friends, family and colleagues are being reunited on-line through their shared love of our hometown and its surrounding towns and villages. ‘Dún Laoghaire on Dublin’s Riviera’ a place to visit, take the sea air, stroll along its majestic piers, shop on its bustling main street, enjoy the ambiance of its pubs and the great food in its many fine restaurants. Not forgetting Teddy’s Ice Cream and the Baths, the place where we all learned to swim. This is how many of us fondly remember our hometown of Dún Laoghaire. The town’s place on ‘Dublin’s Riviera’ dates from the early part of the last century and this fittingly beautiful maritime description was revived briefly during the late 1990s by a local Community Tourism Initiative. But alas, times were a changing, a new County was born and, at the time, few mourned the passing of the Borough. Twenty years on from the establishment of Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and all we have left is a wonderful vista from the sea. The new regime forgot the Town Centre and looked to the seafront, after all, it was prettier and more fitting for grandiose schemes, scarce investment funds and, of course, the odd festival or two. They talked of connecting the Town with the seafront and the Harbour Area. But slowly our beautiful old late Victorian and Edwardian town centre was eventually hidden behind a line of modern office blocks, apartment complexes, the County Hall and its offices, the Pavilion and now the huge New Central Library building – all overlooking Ireland’s largest marina and four of the most prestigious yacht clubs in the country. Our hometown had been stealthily given a ‘Benidorm-like’ makeover with the ‘new town’ facing seaward and the ‘old town’ facing dilapidation, neglect and economic collapse. As ‘Done Benidorm’ began to dominate our seafront an aggressive and punitive parking regime was imposed on the Town and its residents by the County Council which severely weakened the ability of the businesses of the Town to confront the recession. It is no wonder that commentators in the media are now writing the Town’s obituary as business after business shuts down or moves out. Where were our Public Representatives when the speculative property developers and the planning officials readied themselves to administer the last rites to our hometown?
Published by Dún Laoghaire Community Association (DLCA), c/o 1, Northumberland Avenue, Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin, Ireland Page 4
INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY CAMPUS BRATACHA 2014 The Dún Laoghaire Community Association is once again delighted to be one of the lead organisations hosting Bratacha 2014 along with the County Council, Dún Laoghaire Business Association (DLBA), National Maritime Museum and Vexillology Ireland, a branch of the Genealogical Society of Ireland (GSI) (www.familyhistory.ie). Building on the success of last years ‘Festival of Flags & Emblems’ it was hoped to host a ‘Parade of Flags’ but unfortunately that proved impossible this year and we’re for next year. In the meantime the length of George’s Street and the adjoin streets will all be decked out in bunting and with the flags of the European Union and the competing countries in this year’s World Cup in Brazil. There will be a great cosmopolitan atmosphere around the Town – a celebration of cultural diversity and unity in our hometown. The Chair or the Steering Group, Stanislav Zamyatin of the GSI, is the curator of an exhibition to be held in the National Maritime Museum of Ireland. The DLCA would like to thank Tom Byrne and Willie Morton of the County Council; Sven Spollen Behrens of the DLBA; Tom Conlon, Billy Saunderson, Michael Merrigan and Stan Zamyatin of the GSI; Ray Traynor of the National Maritime Museum and, of course, our own Frances Fletcher for organising the event.
WE NEED YOUR HELP NOW The DLCA raises funds to pay for legal advice on its various campaigns about the unfair treatment of our community; administration, printing and postage costs etc. We raised funds separately for the election campaign to have our community heard at County Hall. If you would like to help with the distribution of this newsletter in your own area or to make a donation, please contact Ann Joyce at Costello Flowers, 1, Northumberland Ave., Dún Laoghaire. Tel: (01) 284 1864
The Dún Laoghaire Community Association is concerned about the huge drop off in footfall throughout the town of Dún Laoghaire when the Senior College on Eblana Avenue moves to Blackrock. More empty premises and a loss of hundreds of young people will only serve to reinforce the negative image of Dún Laoghaire. The DLCA agrees with Michael Merrigan that we need a new economic model for the Town to drive investment, incentivise the location of new businesses along George’s Street and, above all, we need a completely new major anchor to keep the Town busy and attractive for new shops, restaurants and nightspots. The possible location of the National Diaspora Centre in Dún Laoghaire or if the proposal by the Genealogical Society of Ireland on the use of the old Carnegie Library is accepted by the County Council, these would provide a two new important heritage and academic assets in Dún Laoghaire. The creation of a cultural hub involving the National Maritime Museum, the New Central Library and Cultural Centre and the National Diaspora Centre would be excellent. But more is required to save our hometown. Michael Merrigan has proposed inviting a major Chinese University to establish a European Campus in Dún Laoghaire to possibly take over the CBS and Senior College sites on Eblana Avenue or the huge vacant office complex on Upper George’s Street or, indeed, to redevelop the buildings around Dunne’s Stores. The advantages of such a facility are many and far reaching, not only would it attract students from China but also from the Chinese Diaspora in the European Union. It would link Dún Laoghaire and its business community with a potentially huge market, encourage research and development and create an enormous boost for the local economy. As a site of a major international university campus, Dún Laoghaire could become a hub of innovation, technological advances and, of course, academic research developing and expanding links with third level institutions in the region, throughout Ireland and overseas. The spin off in local job creation would be enormous and, more importantly, sustainable. It’s time for innovative thinking to provide a new economic model for Dún Laoghaire.