Autumn 2013 Vol 3 No 1
Newsletter of the Dún Laoghaire Community Association
DLCA 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
“PARKING TAX” The DLCA has called for the detested and grossly unfair ‘Parking Tax’ to be scrapped or to be applied in an equitable manner throughout the County of Dún Laoghaire Rathdown. This call for fairness and the sharing of the burden has been met with incredulity by our County Councillors and County officials who appear to be completely oblivious to the damage that this tax is causing to our Town. The Parking Scheme was introduced as a traffic and parking management measure in any era of economic expansion to ensure that the limited parking spaces available would be rotated during the day to facilitate the normal business and communal life of the Town of Dún Laoghaire. With the severe downturn in the economy, the closure of businesses, the rise in unemployment, the large scale return of migrant workers and the huge reduction in numbers of new vehicles on our roads, the original objectives of the Parking Scheme are no longer relevant. The current Parking Scheme is primarily designed as a revenue generating measure for the County Council and serious doubts exist as to whether the original resolution of the Council for the Pay-n-Display Scheme and its accompanying Public Consultation process still provide a sound legal basis for its continued operation. As this ‘Parking Tax’ is funding the provision of Council services throughout the County and with the introduction of the Household Charge, further serious doubts exist about to the legality and fairness of the ‘Parking Tax’ as it is only imposed on one section of the community and in only one specific geographic area of the County to the exclusion of the all others. Where is the equity in this ‘Parking Tax’? The County Council has refused to provide assurances to the DLCA that the Parking Scheme will either be scrapped or extended in a similar manner, including costs and zones, throughout the County and that each community will be treated equitably. In the interim, the DLCA calls on the County Council to suspend the Parking Scheme in Dún Laoghaire until it can be rolled out successfully and uniformly in each part of the County of Dún Laoghaire Rathdown.
High profile business closures, empty and boarded up shops, dilapidation and neglected half-builds, long lines of the unemployed on Cumberland Street and estate agents’ billboards defacing one building after another along the length of George’s Street. These are the unmistakeably vivid images of Dún Laoghaire portrayed by the media to the wider world.
Dundrum, Cherrywood and Sandyford all became priorities for this County Council, as the Planning Authority, while it sought to “cluster” social support agency services inappropriately in the centre of Dún Laoghaire disrupting business through the anti-social behaviour of some of the clients of these agencies. This also created no-go areas out of the laneways around Patrick Street and Upper George’s Street which once were the convenient short-cuts for the residents of the Town. Protests and petitions were all ignored as business suffered and customers fled the Town.
Nobody is left in any doubt that the recession hit home very hard here in Dún Laoghaire, except it appears, “the powers that be” at the County Hall. Business as usual, it seems, cushioned within a system seemingly ignoring the realities facing the world outside the County Hall. The private sector, the retail sector, the hospitality sector, the taxi drivers, the self employed and the barely employed – all struggling to meet the enormous challenges of higher taxes, lower wages, layoffs and short-time working – all seemingly ignored by the County Hall.
Not content with driving the customers and visitors away from the Town with the “clustering” of these agencies, 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. Commentators in the media are now writing the Town’s obituary as business after business shuts down or moves out. Next year the County Council will celebrate its twentieth anniversary. Is it time to say enough is enough? After twenty years many are legitimately asking whether this Town can afford its local authority. Alternatives to a system that presided over the demise of the Town of Dún Laoghaire must include either radical reform or abolition. This County has clearly FAILED Dún Laoghaire – time to change!
Forget the Town Centre – look to the seafront – it’s prettier and more fitting for grandiose schemes, scarce investment funds and, of course, the odd festival or two. No more talk of connecting the Town with the seafront and the Harbour Area – the Town Centre will be hidden behind a new modern suite of office blocks, apartment complexes, the County Hall and its offices, the Pavilion and now the sparkling new County Library building – all overlooking Ireland’s largest marina and four of the most prestigious yacht clubs in the country. A wonderful vista from the sea!
A FAIR PARKING REGIME Page 2
STREET CLEANING The overall appearance of the main street and near adjoining streets is improving with regular cleaning by the Council. But the situation away from George’s Street and Marine Road sometimes lets the Town down badly with litter, weeds and, in some cases, uncollected rubbish bags. Residents’ Associations around the Town have been trying their best to keep their own areas litter free and looking generally good. Getting together to tackle unsightly areas or to remove rubbish and weeds can be an enjoyable and rewarding exercise for all involved. Concern still exists regarding the County Council’s neglect of the drains clogged with litter and weeds which cause havoc after heavy rain. The DLCA urges the Council to put in place measures for the regular clearing of the gutters and storm drains on Convent Road, Cross Avenue, Library Road, Patrick Street, Mulgrave Street and Northumberland Avenue.
CONGRATS TO LOCAL AUTHOR Congratulations to Stephen Duffy of Desmond Avenue who has recently launched his first novel ‘Steaks and Pints’ at a wonderful reception at Dunphy’s Corner. The place was packed to the rafters with pints in hand and heads in books as the locals eagerly snapped up signed copies. It’s a hilariously funny, enjoyable and captivating read – highly recommended.
The DLCA strongly believes that if our Town of Dún Laoghaire is to survive this recession and to be enabled to capitalise on the eventual recovery in the nation’s economy, a more community-friendly, businesslike and ultimately more sympathetic and cooperative approach is required from the County Council. Therefore, the DLCA holds the following points to be of fundamental importance:
EQUITY of treatment and application of the Parking Scheme throughout the county areas, where such applies,
ELDERLY citizens residing in Dún Laoghaire who depend upon regular visits by carers and family members must
CARE IN THE COMMUNITY provided by community nurses, health professionals, carers or other
ECONOMIC RECOVERY of the Town of Dún Laoghaire should be facilitated in any Parking Scheme
BUSINESSES in the Town of Dún Laoghaire have suffered considerably during the current recession and many
WORKERS in the Town of Dún Laoghaire, including all County Council staff, should be treated equally with the
PUBLIC CAR PARKS in the Town of Dún Laoghaire have insufficient capacity to meet the needs of the Town
including a universal flat rate of €1.00 per hour; the elimination of the zones within the Town Centre; and the limitation of the parking restrictions to between the hours of 10.00hrs and 16.00hrs Monday to Friday to deter all-day parking by commuters are central demands of the residents of the Town of Dún Laoghaire.
be provided with special parking permits to facilitate such visits at a charge of not more than €1.00 per permit.
support services should be facilitated with the issuance of permits to allow for parking at the residence of their client or patient.
adopted by the County Council and therefore, the current positions of loading bays, taxi ranks and all double yellow line restrictions should be urgently reviewed and consideration given to the use of the more flexible single yellow line restrictions.
have closed down, therefore, consideration must be afforded to the provision of reduced parking permits for employees of businesses located in the Town Centre to sustain the current levels of employment and to assist in the creation of new jobs.
provision of Parking Permits (payable on a monthly basis) for use in the Town Centre and adjoining streets. The provision of free or subsidised parking for the County Council staff in public car parks should cease as it is an unacceptable burden on the taxpayers and ratepayers of the Town.
Centre and the operation times of these facilities take no account of the economic and social life of the Town of Dún Laoghaire. The County Council has been in receipt of considerable revenues generated through the planning process for the provision of car parking and yet, no extra public car parks have been provided through this process.
NEW FLAG Dún Laoghaire certainly looked great for the festivals this year with flags and bunting stretching the length of George’s Street and supplied by the Steering Group of Bratacha 2013 – Festival of Flags & Emblems, of which, Frances Fletcher of the DLCA was Event Secretary. Organised as part of the nationwide festival of The Gathering Ireland, the Bratacha 2013 event was hugely successful in promoting the Town and its heritage at home and overseas. The event also encouraged all local organisations to design their own flags for the ‘Parade of Flags’ held on May 11th 2013. The DLCA already had a flag designed by the renowned local artist, Veronica Heywood, back in 2003. This flag called the ‘Dún Laoghaire Peoples’ Heritage’ flag was also used by Dún Laoghaire Town Football Club. The sacred Black Bull represents High King Laoghaire, the eponymous founder of Dún Laoghaire, and the Celtic Cross represents the coming of Christianity and the dawn of our recorded history in the 5th century. Although the original flag was made in 2003 and used at home and overseas, this new modern version of the design was commissioned for Bratacha 2013 with graphics by Frank Lee Cooper.
SUSTAINING A VIBRANT LOCAL COMMUNITY The DLCA has always advocated that in any strategic development plan for the Town Centre of Dún Laoghaire that the utmost care must be given to sustaining vibrant local communities in the areas adjoining Lower George’s Street. These communities are largely made up of the descendants of the original inhabitants of the areas that grew up around the old harbour and in the ‘courts’ and alleyways off Lower George’s Street, York Road, Cumberland Street and Clarence Street. Local families that go back many generations in the Town – the ‘real’ Dún Laoghaire people – descendants of the builders of the harbour, fishermen, railway-workers, dock-porters, shopworkers, tradesmen and labours. Historically they lived in appalling conditions in ‘courts’ behind the main streets of the Town where infant mortality and disease devastated families. In the early part of the last century social housing came to the Town and very slowly these hundreds of families were moved to newly built areas off Lower George’s Street. A strong community spirit remained and was sustained by the children and grandchildren remaining in the Town or surrounding areas of Monkstown Farm, Sallynoggin, Ballybrack or Mounttown. Social housing formed a vital component in the maintenance of this well established local community and this remained the case until some years ago following the refurbishment of the local social housing stock by the County Council. Locals found it very difficult to move off the housing waiting lists into areas close to family and friends in the Town Centre. Many locals believe that despite being on the waiting list for several years that an increasing number of the County Council’s social housing units in the Town Centre are not being allocated in a manner that sustains the local community. Applicants are being forced into the private rented sector often in extremely difficult circumstances. The DLCA calls for clarity on this issue and seeks information on the number of social housing units, if any, in the Town Centre allocated via housing associations or other agencies.
OUR NEW LIBRARY All the talk around the Town is certainly focussed on the New Library building which is quickly taking shape in Moran Park in front of the National Maritime Museum and the Royal Marine Hotel. Many residents contacted the DLCA about the building as they hadn’t realised its eventual scale and position on the seafront. Here are the specifications as presented to the County Councillors when they voted to accept the plan on November 9th 2009. It is proposed to construct a Central Library and Cultural Centre comprising a children’s library, a teenager’s library, a reference area, modern I.T. facilities, art gallery, coffee shop, cultural centre and meeting rooms. The building will serve as Library Headquarters for the County and the Cultural Centre will include a multi-purpose room seating approximately 100 people. The new Library will have an underground car park for approximately 100 car spaces. It is also proposed to reconfigure and redevelop the existing Moran Park. The proposed building (approximately 6,327sq.m) is positioned along the southern edge of the site, cut into the granite escarpment. The form of the building relates to the context of Moran Park and Haigh Terrace; the building form is kept low by using most of the length of the available site and responds in character, form and scale to the different aspects and levels of the site. The Haigh Terrace elevation is an urban façade, modulated with carefully proportioned windows, vents and screens. The façade is articulated in bands of granite, the storey height walls between the bands are red brick. This combination of materials is familiar in Dún Laoghaire, for example, the Carnegie library. The park elevation has a different scale, and a more civic and formal presence with little detail to distract from the form with large windows allowing views out to the park. The seaward end of the building tapers up and in to form a tall slender portico overlooking the harbour. The proposed building will have no significant impacts on the daylight or sunlight of neighbouring properties. The building can be accessed from both levels of the park to facilitate movement through the site and encourage use. It is important that the proposed building has a civic scale and fulfils its mandate as an iconic landmark taking its place among the panorama of spires and turrets of Dún Laoghaire. The height, scale and massing are appropriate to this civic structure and are well within the scale of adjoining developments. Well there you have it folks… ‘among the spires and turrets of Dún Laoghaire’
LOCAL ELECTIONS 2014
DOG OWNERS We are a nation of dog lovers and we can’t deny it. But do we ever leave our pets unattended in the garden or yard when we go out? What about our neighbours? Do our pets bark and cause a noise nuisance or worse frighten our neighbours? Be a good neighbour and a good pet owner - think of others. Dog owners have the legal responsibility of looking after their own pets and cleaning up after them when out and about. Unfortunately our pavements are still being fouled with dog excrement which is a serious health hazard to children and especially to wheelchair users. The DLCA has encouraged a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to this problem and urges residents to report owners who fail to clean up after their pets. Put simply – YOUR PET, YOUR RESPONSIBILITY, OUR STREETS, OUR HEALTH and YOUR PENALTY – IT’S YOUR CHOICE!
Over the coming months residents will become increasingly aware of the upcoming Local Elections to be held in May 2014 as each of the current County Councillors seeks your support for another five year term. We have six County Councillors in the Dún Laoghaire Ward, three elected in 2009, two co-opted to fill vacancies created by the 2011 General Election and one due to a resignation in August 2013. The overall number of County Councillors is set to increase from the current 28 to 40 following the Local Elections. So what exactly do our Councillors do for us? According to the Constitution (Art. 28A) they are the representatives of the people elected at local government level to promote the interests of local communities. Now is the time for you to consider the following pertinent questions. How do you think that our Councillors performed over the past five years? Do you know who they are? Have you seen them regularly? Do they hold clinics for their constituents, if so, where and when? Do you think that they have represented the best interests of our Town? If you are dissatisfied with the performance of our County Councillors, do you think that the selection of Community Candidates should be considered by the DLCA?
Boylan Centre Boylan Centre The Boylan Centre on Sussex
Mix of Shops Required
Street has been The recession has hit our Town very hard with taken over by Crosscare for the provision of social over four premises empty and three services of them The Boylan Centre on Sussex Street has been taken over by sixty Crosscare for the provision of social services and a ‘drop-in centre’ according to the in a dilapidated state. We welcome the few new and a ‘drop-in centre’ according to the information published by St. Michael’s Parish. The DLCA is hugely information published by St. Michael’s Parish. The businesses that have opened up over the past few concerned about the ‘clustering’ of certain social services in the Town Centre. Further information is sought DLCA is hugely concerned about the ‘clustering’ months. Support your local shops and suppliers on this development. of certain social services in the Town Centre. and help our Town keep its mix of stores and Further information is sought on this businesses. Keep jobs in our Town – Shop Local. Visitors Parking Permits development. Full details on the eligibility, cost and how to apply for Visitor Parking Permits is available on the County Council’s Website: www.dlrcoco.ie Visitors Parking Permits Full details on the eligibility, cost and how to apply Contacting theisDLCA for Visitor Parking Permits available on the County Council’s Website: www.dlrcoco.ie The DLCA welcome comments, suggestions and reports from the residents and business of the Town of Dún Laoghaire – please send us a message via Facebook on www.facebook.com/dlca.news
Contacting the DLCA Mix of Shops Required
The DLCA welcome comments, suggestions and The recession hasresidents hit our Town very hardofwith reports from the and business the over sixty four premises empty and three of them in a dilapidated state.Laoghaire We welcome the fewsend newus businesses that have opened up over the past few months. Town of Dún – please a Support your localviashops andFacebook suppliers and help message on our Town keep its mix of stores and businesses. Keep jobs in our Town – Shop Local. www.facebook.com/dlca.news
Workmen’s Cabins Marie Donoghue and Bella take a stroll on the East Pier
Published by Dún Laoghaire Community Association (DLCA), c/o 1, Northumberland Avenue, Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin, Ireland
The late Victorian or Edwardian Workmen’s Cabins on Queen’s Road which were in a dilapidated and sadly neglected condition are to be refurbished and restored by the County Council. Picture (right) shows the remains after demolition earlier this month (Aug 2013)