An Official Retires
Senior Manager Declan Wallace has worn several hats in more than four decades with Dublin City Council.
At the moment, he is assistant chief executive for culture and recreation. He’s retiring though, shortly, and many councillors took the opportunity at Monday’s monthly meeting of the full council to praise his “pragmatism” over the years.
“I’ll tell you a very funny incident that happened with me with Declan Wallace,” independent Councillor Christy Burke said. Burke does voluntary work in a prison, and got clamped one weekend, he said.
“I discovered the pay-and-display machine was out of order […],” he said. He rang Wallace on behalf of himself and others who had been clamped, and Wallace sent in the “declampers” to deal with it, he said.
Countess Markievicz Park
Councillors approved works at Markievicz Park in Ballyfermot to improve facilities for the sports club and community groups who use the park.
The planned improvements include: an extension to the changing building, making the changing rooms and toilets more accessible to those with disabilities, putting in some new windows and doors, and fixing up paths.
The refurb is expected to cost €250,000, and the work should start by June, said manager Declan Wallace.
Back in December last year, councillors voted (again) to look at trying to add to the list of protected structures several buildings on Moore Street, Henry Place, and Moore Lane.
Afterwards, council Chief Owen Keegan wrote to UK developer Hammerson PLC, the owner of the relevant properties, to tell them, and ask for access to the buildings as part of that process.
“In view of this I would appreciate it, pending the completion of the proposed assessment, you would give a commitment that the buildings in question will not be demolished as provided for under the current planning permission,” he wrote.
Keegan got a letter back from the Dublin Central Limited Partnership (a trading name for Hammerson), which noted that the sites have valid planning permission until May 2022.
So “no undertaking can be given” that would contravene that, wrote Edward Dobbs, on behalf of the partnership.
Dobbs wrote that the council’s course of action could be “an oblique attack” on the planning permission, and if it progresses, the partnership “would be compelled to take the necessary steps to protect our constitutional and property rights”.
Councillors weren’t impressed with the response. Ciarán Cuffe of the Green Party said that it was “deeply ironic” and UK property company would try to prevent the council from learning more about the events that took place on the battlefield site.
Richard Shakespeare, the council’s head of planning and property development, said the buildings are protected by virtue of an ongoing case at the court of appeal.
The council is getting legal advice to see if it can continue with the process of possibly adding the structures to the protected list.
“I can’t really say much more,” he said.
A New Cultural Company
Councillors approved plans to set up a new arts company under the aegis of Dublin City Council. Some councillors will sit on the board.
While the council failed in its bid to make Dublin the European Capital of Culture for 2020, it has still gone ahead with many of the community-focused events and activities it put forward as part of the application, through the Dublin Culture Connects programme.
The Dublin Culture Connects budget might be as much as €1 million this year, and the council wants to manage that – and the newish Tenement Museum – through the new Dublin City Council Cultural Company.
Part of the raison d’être for the company is to improve conditions for contractors the council works with, said council Head of Planning Richard Shakespeare. It isn’t an attempt to reduce what they’re earning, or bring in zero-hour contracts, he said. “What we’re trying to do is put this in a stable footing.”
Independent Councillor Mannix Flynn said it is clear that the city needs this new arts company, and that he doesn’t think it will become like the Temple Bar Cultural Trust, which was wound after financial irregularities. “Let’s give it a chance,” he said.
Councillors and council officials have been working with market-stall traders to come up with new rules. They’ve drawn up draft rules, which are now up for discussion.
Labour Councillor Dermot Lacey asked that Portobello Square be looked at as a future site for regular markets.
Independent Councillor Ruairi McGinley queried whether the city needed 69 mobile food outlets, as listed in the plans, and the possible impact on bricks-and-mortar shops.
Councillor Claire Byrne of the Green Party said the bylaws review is a chance for the council to take some leadership on waste disposal.
It would be good to bring in a measure requiring traders who are selling food to put it only in compostable kitchenware and coffee cups, she said.