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High Court Judge to pass judgment on Malahide pedestrian zone dispute later this week

The case involves the pedestrianisation of New Street, Malahide.
Aug 9th 2021, 5:08 PM 16,487 0

A HIGH COURT Judge has said he will deliver a judgement later this week in an application for an injunction reversing Fingal County Council’s decision to pedestrianise part of Malahide Village in north Dublin.

Last June the High Court granted permission to company director Nicola Byrne to bring a challenge against the council’s decision to pedestrianise New Street, in Malahide, which commenced over the June Bank Holiday weekend. 

The council, which says the measures arise out of the covid19 pandemic and are temporary in nature, pedestrianised the street in order to aid and facilitate outdoor dining, and social distancing for the summer of 2021. 

The street had previously been pedestrianised between June and November 2020.

Byrne, who lives in nearby Old Street, Malahide claims that the council’s decision is flawed and should be set aside as it lacks the legal authority to implement the development.

She also seeks various orders including injunctions stopping the council from pedestrianising the street, and diverting traffic in Malahide, and reserving all steps it has taken in these regards.

She seeks to have the injunctions remain in place until her full High Court judicial review action has been determined.

Fingal County Council rejects the claims and opposes both the injunction application, and Byrne’s full legal challenge.

The application for the injunctions came before Mr Justice Charles Meenan on Monday. Following the conclusion of submissions from both parties the judge said he was reserving his position.

He said he hoped to give his judgement on the injunction application some stage this week.

In her judicial review action against the Council and the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Ireland and the Attorney General Byrne seeks various orders and declarations.

These include order quashing the local’ authorities’ decision to pedestrianise New Street, and declarations that the decision is invalid.

In her action Byrne, represented by Alan Doyle Bl. claims that the pedestrianisation of New Street has seen additional traffic being put onto narrow unsuitable streets in Malahide, which were supposed to be prioritised for cycling and walking.

During the period it is claimed the pedestrianisation resulted in significant complaints to the Gardai of alleged anti-social behaviour by gangs of youths drinking and doing bicycle stunts.

She also claims that the pedestrianisation does not form part of the Fingal County Council Development Plan nor the Malahide Public Realm Strategy adopted by the Council.

It is also claimed that the nature of the works proposed as part of the overall pedestrianisation proposal are likely to have a significant effect on the environment.

The project should have, but was not screened for an Environmental Impact Assessment and Appropriate Assessments before it proceeded, she also claims.

Counsel said that the injunction was required as her action may not be heard this year and by the time it is heard it may become moot or pointless because the justification for the pedestrianisation will have expired.

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She claims that in such a scenario the council will have achieved its outdoor summer, without having to comply with various legal requirements.

In reply James Doherty SC for the council said that Byrne’s application did not reach the high threshold required to allow the court to grant the injunctions sought.

She had not made out that she has a strong case likely to succeed, and the court should dismiss her application, counsel said.

The council claims that it took the steps in order to provide safe outdoor spaces to facilitate social distancing. The council does not accept its decision has resulted in a traffic hazard as alleged by Byrne.

Nor does it accept that the pedestrianisation has resulted in anti-social behaviour.

It also claims that the decisions in 2020 and 2021 to pedestriainise the street were taken following consultation with various stake holders and local residents.

The council also rejects claims that the decision is legally flawed, and that Byrne’s are wholly misplaced and unfounded.

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Aodhan O Faolain

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