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College Green

Minister wants to turn College Green into pedestrian plaza

Arts minister Jimmy Deenihan says he has had “constructive engagement” with Bank of Ireland about taking its College Green HQ.

ARTS MINISTER Jimmy Deenihan says he still harbours hopes that College Green could be turned into a pedestrian plaza to rival the world’s best-known city squares.

Deenihan says he has had “constructive engagement” with Bank of Ireland about taking over the use of its College Green branch, which previously Ireland’s House of Parliament, and that “positive dialogue” was continuing between them.

“Part of the vision I expressed to Bank of Ireland was [that] I put on a special slideshow for them, showing that the whole area could be a type of plaza, something like Trafalgar Square or Times Square in New York,” Deenihan told the Dáil.

He added that similar other squares from which he drew inspiration could be found in Paris, Madrid and Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

“That could be our focal point, and it’s not overambitious either: Dublin City Council have similar plans,” the minister said.

Deenihan was responding to questions from Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan and Sinn Féin’s Sandra McLellan about the progress in regaining control of the building, which Deenihan had said was a goal last year.

“I would hope that you would push forward with the proposal to put it back where it belongs – with the people,” Flanagan said.”That whole area there can actually be made pedestrianised so that people can maybe take back a bit of the city.”

Run over, or go deaf

People currently trying to stand at College Green and admire the buildings there, in Flanagan’s words, would currently say: “I’m either going to get ran over, or go deaf.”

Although he acknowledged that pedestrianising the area would cause some transport difficulties and “discommode” some people, “we get discommoded in rural Ireland aswell, and we try and deal with it.”

McLellan reminded Deenihan of the government’s commitment to seek a “social dividend” from the banks in exchange for the massive taxpayer injection keeping them afloat.

Deenihan said the State’s case for taking over the building had been weakened by the private investment in the bank, which meant that the State was no longer a majority shareholder.

He added that the College Green bank’s architecture – which was copied for the Capitol Building in Washington – had “resonated” around the world with many.

Read: Five things you didn’t know about the Bank of Ireland on College Green

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