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Dublin City Transport Plan

Dublin City Council votes against scrapping consultation that backed its big city centre traffic plan

The special meeting was called after some councillors claimed the consultation did not adequately involve organisations representing people with disabilities.

LAST UPDATE | 29 Apr

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL has voted against scrapping the already completed public consultation for the Dublin City Transport Plan, after a number of councillors called for a new one to be conducted. 

The councillors tabled a motion to scrap the consultation findings and claimed it did not adequately involve organisations representing people with disabilities. 

Dublin City Council held a special meeting this evening to debate the matter.

The original consultation found that the public overwhelmingly supported the objectives of the transport plan. A total of 3,592 people were surveyed as part of the process.

Apart from Patricia Roe of the Social Democrats, the councillors who brought the motion are all independents. 

Addressing the meeting this evening, Councillor Damian O’Farrell said disabled persons organisations (DPOs) were treated “like dirt” and claimed they were excluded from participating in a National Transport Authority (NTA) advisor’s group because their emailed response was received eight minutes after the deadline. 

O’Farrell also said that one organisation was not invited to take part in the process because the NTA had the wrong email address for the group. 

“The spirit of the [United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities] is totally trashed by that public consultation report. There’s no regard for DPOs,” O’Farrell said. 

DCC chief executive Richard Shakespeare said that six DPOs were individually contacted to advise them that a public consultation process would be commencing and that DCC would welcome submissions from them. He said they were subsequently contacted when the consultation was live. 

Shakespeare said that by 1 December, only one DPO had made a submission. This submission was included and the concerns raised within it were taken into account, he added. 

“I’ve been advised by the access officer that this consultation process is compliant with the UNCRPD,” he told the meeting.

“Further the law agent has also advised that there is no prescribed format for recording engagement with DPOs or for how public authorities are to meet their obligations under Article 4 of the UNCRPD.

“The facts support that Dublin City Council prioritised engagement with GPOs for this process.”

Concerns

A number of councillors voiced their concern about the involvement of DPOs in the public consultation. 

Councillor Mannix Flynn told the meeting that reasonable doubt “has been established that this process was flawed”.

“We cannot be party to disempowerment. I would appeal to the executive of Dublin City Council to rerun this particular public consultation,” he said. 

Councillor Niall Ring said DCC should not shy away from “taking responsibility”.

“If we see discrimination or exclusion anywhere, we should fight it, and this is a clear case of exclusion and discrimination,” he said. 

Councillor Máire Devine said the NTA needed “a lesson in an improved bedside manner”.

“They’ve treated citizens of this city – in particular in this instance, members of the disabled community – atrociously,” she said.

Councillor Deirdre Heney said it would do DCC “no harm” to rerun the process and urged members to support O’Farrell’s motion. 

However, the council voted against scrapping the consultation. 

An amendment to the motion by Green Party councillor Michael Pidgeon, which proposed arranging further close consultation meetings with DPOs who wish to be consulted on the Transport Plan and adding that feedback to the initial consultation report, passed with 25 votes in favour to 22 against.  

Speaking to The Journal earlier, Pidgeon said there was no need to completely scrap the findings the Council already has. 

“I can’t remember a public consultation that had so many responses,” he said.

“And I think it’d be a real shame if we were to disrespect the time and energy that people put into those submissions and just threw it all out.

“I’m hopeful that tonight we can get an amendment to the motion to say, yes, let’s do the extra consultation but let’s not dispose of everyone else’s consultations in order to do so. There’s no need to do that.”

The Dublin City Centre Transport Plan, announced last year, is aiming to reduce the number of cars clogging up city centre streets but not bringing any custom to businesses.

It estimated that six out of every ten cars are using the city centre streets only as a route to reach a destination outside of the centre. It suggests that moving this traffic out of the city would not impact economic activity or cultural life in the area.

DCC consultation The results of the consultation process survey. DCC DCC

Last time round

The transport plan was due to be voted on last February but was delayed after some councillors raised objections about the public consultation process, arguing that it had only been done online and should have been more transparent, while others said that it was too late to complain about the process after it had been completed. 

No objections at the time mentioned people with disabilities. Some councillors opposed to the transport plan said that the process was “flawed” and that the questions on the survey involved were “loaded”.

Green councillors in particular were unhappy with the complaints from their colleagues, who they said had not contributed to the process when they had the chance. 

The Green Party’s Janet Horner said during a debate at the time that “the only reps that contributed to the consultation process were Green Party reps. It’s frustrating to hear the process criticised long after it has concluded.”  

Media coverage of the traffic plan also came in for particular criticism from many councillors in February, especially the framing of the debate and use of sensationalist language in describing the plans impacts.

Michael Pidgeon wrote in a Voices article for The Journal that the plan was “not a ban on cars” as some people had been led to believe. 

With additional reporting from Jane Moore

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