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'Banning children being driven to school' would improve air quality, says DCC official

Brendan O’ Brien says it’s a hypothetical idea but would force solutions to be found.

Free public transport for school children could be introduced, the official said.
Free public transport for school children could be introduced, the official said.
Image: Shutterstock

A SENIOR DUBLIN City Council official has said that banning children being driven to school would be one idea that could help improve air quality in the capital.

Brendan O’Brien, head of technical services at DCC, was speaking at a major air quality and climate conference in Dublin’s Mansion House yesterday in which the mayors of the four Dublin local authorities signed up to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Breathelife campaign

The campaign obligates the authorities to meeting WHO air quality guidelines by 2030

As part of a panel, O’Brien was asked what would be the first change he would make if he was a “hypothetical dictator” to improve air quality in the capital. He said making it illegal for children to be driven to school would be one such idea he’d implement straight away. 

Speaking to the Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk this morning, O’Brien said it was hypothetical question but that if such a ban was to be introduced it would force authorities to think of urgent solutions. 

If we were presented and told that look, in three years time there’s a ban coming in, the same way as people banned smokey coal, banned smoking in bars and restaurants and so on, if you have that ban coming in, it would force us to mobilise and think seriously about how you put these things in place.

“It could be a question that you’d have to put in place free public transport for school-going children, you’d have to have you know, far more investment in walking and cycling in safer routes,” he added. 

Tweet by @Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Source: Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus/Twitter

O’Brien also said it could also mean that parents may have to reconsider which schools their children attend. 

The DCC official said yesterday’s conference heard that a third of the air emissions in Dublin come from transport and that solutions need to be found. 

Dr Maria Neira, director of public health at the World Health Organisation (WHO), was one of the speakers at the event and O’Brien made particular reference to her contribution.

“She gave a very good presentation really about the impact of the number of people who died prematurely because of poor health, poor air quality, also the effect it has on children and especially babies, and in particular, the worrying kind of things that are starting to come out about whether it affects people’s IQ,” O’Brien said.

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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