This is a submission I made to the OPW regarding the future of transport in relation to the Phoenix, submitted March 11, 2021:

My name is Bríd Smith

I am a TD and live in Ballyfermot

I tried but could not complete the on-line form which contains a menu for where one lives in the vicinity of the park.

That menu omits Dublin 10 which is an area on the doorstep of the park, includes mainly the areas of Ballyfermot and Cherryorchard and has a relatively large population.

The obvious question is why is D 10 excluded? I would like to see that changed and an explanation given.

As a public representative I welcome the proposals to improve mobility and transport in the park and would like to make the following observations and suggestions.

There should be an end to all public concerts and gigs in the park. We cannot both protect the biodiversity and environment and at the same time utilise the space for thousands of people gathering at commercial events. Insofar as the park can and should accommodate crowds, it should be for sporting events like mini marathons and walks such as Darkness into Light.

During the first lock down of the pandemic I walked in the Phoenix park everyday as it is within the 2K limit imposed by public health restrictions. The most obvious and wonderful outcome of that lockdown was the lack of traffic and the ensuing silence and clean air that we experienced for a number of weeks. This was acutely felt in the Phoenix Park where wild life was very much enhanced by the lack of traffic. It would be amazing if we could keep this going. But we cannot because this is a peoples park and we need transport and mobility around and through the entire area.

Keeping traffic through the park to a minimum is appropriate but we have to give alternatives to people, particularly to those with mobility challenges and with children.

I do not support the proposal to run a public bus service through the park that is connecting Heuston Station with Cabra. I think it would be a backward step. Instead I believe we should aspire to a frequent and plentiful shuttle bus service within the park that would connect gates, sites and amenities throughout the entire park. That would mean facilitating bus rides from each of the gates, devising various routes and using electrified shuttle buses. Some time ago I travelled in one of these buses from the Visitors Centre to the Magazine Fort and back. It was very quiet, clean, efficient, fast and safe. This should be the future for park transport.

I also note that the proposals are silent on the issue of Tour buses travelling through the park. This is a mistake. Open top tour buses have been increasingly dominating the main road from Parkgate Street to Castleknock throughout the day in the period prior to the pandemic. No doubt that they will return if not explicitly excluded. Instead tourists should be accommodated in visiting the park in the same manner as everyone else, ie by shuttle bus from gate to gate and from gate to amenity. Tour buses are generally noisy, dirty and have a very negative impact on the air quality.

Finally, strong consideration needs to be given to how communities living directly around the park will be impacted by closure of various gates to traffic. The most obvious of those is the community of Chapelizod village and surrounds. This very old and beautiful village is delicate and already suffers with an overload of traffic through Martins Row and on into the village. If the Knockmaroon gates are closed this grid lock problem is likely to increase hugely. It will bring with it a deterioration in air quality and an increase in road traffic dangers, not just for cars, vans, motorbikes etc but for pedestrians, cyclists and local people. A solution must be found that will not impact on the village, its heritage, its people and its environment.

I am not convinced that the proposals so far have considered the impact on areas outside the park but I do welcome any attempt to improve the future of the Phoenix’s Park’s biodiversity and wildlife.

-ends-

Signed: Bríd Smith TD

FREE PUBLIC TRANSPORT. A great success. So says Dr Lynn Sloman, public Transport expert , who spoke to us (by Zoom) at the Dáil Climate committee yesterday. So why not bring it in here? It costs very little more than subsidised transport and benefits communities, cities, and the environment. What’s not to love Minister Ryan?

DATA CENTRES – A MASSIVE DRAIN ON POWER AND WATER. Our government becomes more craven by the day to the multinational tech corporations. And it’s getting scarier, with plans for more and more data storage centres that consume precious resources at a voracious rate, so much so that by 2030 HALF OF OUR RENEWABLE ENERGY will go on maintaining them! And yet they are getting special permission to by-pass normal planning, to construct more. And the Greens stand over this?

 

We failed to achieve our targets last year to reduce harmful emissions, so we have to pay a fine of €50 million. This will continue to rise because we’re still NOT doing enough of the right things to reduce emissions. There are accountancy tricks and a ‘fantasy’ about how the €50million is used. Smoke and mirrors from Eamon Ryan by way of explanation, but the facts remain it’s a waste of public money, and when we need so much – wages for student nurses and midwives for instance, services for sick children and children being failed by our ridiculous system. I spoke in the Dáil Climate Committee yesterday about this, and how it relates to CETA.

Bríd engages with witnesses at the committee and makes the point that Ireland and the EU are being hypocritical when we is prepared to do deals with countries that do not respect policies to protect the environment, through ‘carbon leakage’.

Bríd who was on the Dáil Climate Committee refers to the extensive work of that committee which brought over 20 recommendations to tackle climate change to the government. The only measure the govt have focussed on is Carbon Tax increase for ordinary people, leaving corporations who promote and use fossil fuels, off the hook. Fuel poverty and sharp practice by fuel providers are rampant in Ireland, and those suffering as a result are the very ones targeted by Carbon Tax increases.

Very worrying responses on the Climate Committee today. What’s happening for the workers in Just Transition is far from clear, with one of the experts telling us that “..process is as important as outcome..” and then passing the buck when it comes to specifics, like Bord na Móna workers. Very interesting too to learn that a strategy based on ‘carbon capture and storage’, may have niche role in some areas, but can generally can create more problems than it solves. And planting more trees is no blanket solution either, producing unwanted results like changes to the soil.

HIT THE ONES WHO CAN LEAST AFFORD IT. That’s the motto for the FFG government. Disgracefully, grants given by Bord Gais at the outset of Covid are now being clawed back for ‘pay-as-you-go’ customers, so that now when you buy €20 worth of gas, you only get €8 worth. And this is supposed to be a benefit for people? And now increased CARBON TAXES on people who already in fuel poverty and have no alternatives; this is cruel and won’t stop climate change. They should tax the mega-rich fossil fuel corporations instead.

The Irish fishing industry has changed for the worst – changed in its impact on fisherfolk and their communities, on the fish stocks and on the bio-diversity of our planet. But the giant agri-business and global food corporations have benefitted hugely, making €Billions. I spoke, with a heavy heart, on this in the Dáil yesterday.