Next week marks an anniversary of sorts for Damien Farrell. The taxi driver will have lived on James’s Walk in Rialto for 26 years.
But the last 18 months in the neighbourhood have seen growing challenges around parking, he says.
When the Luas came to Rialto years back it created some problems and work on the National Children’s Hospital has worsened those, he says.
Some staff parking spaces at the hospital are gone and some office staff have been moved to the Herberton Apartments complex, near where he lives, so things have gotten pretty tight on the small streets in the area.
It is an issue that councillors in the area have been aware of.
In December, they agreed a motion from Labour Councillor Rebecca Moynihan to ballot streets in Rialto to see if they wanted pay-and-display parking, after residents complained of out-of-neighbourhood folks parking up all day for free.
The vote hasn’t gone too smoothly, though.
Several councillors say there have been issues around the vote.
Residents from Herberton Park have said that ballot papers came, but they were addressed to owners rather than tenants, says Sinn Féin Councillor Críona Ní Dhálaigh. She wants to defer the decision until it’s clear everyone has had the chance to vote.
“Local councillors are constantly getting contact from residents in relation to all-day parking,” says Ní Dhálaigh.
“Some people wanted pay-and-display, and some didn’t, but some residents in Herberton Park didn’t get a vote,” she says, and she’s asking the council to check if due process was used.
People Before Profit Alliance Councillor Tina MacVeigh says she’s worried that certain steps of the process might have been left out. “We need to see what process was followed, and a comparison of what should have been followed,” she said.
Farrell says there was no public consultation or outreach about the ballot before it happened.
A council spokesperson said the process went through the normal steps.
It sent out ballot papers to those on the register of electors, address to “The Resident”, save for five addresses, where people weren’t on the register, said the spokesperson.
The number of ballots returned was low, but it’s still the only reliable method for the council to work out what residents want, they said.
Farrell says the parking problems are stressful. Residents with on-street parking find that if they go out during the day, but come back between 8am and 5pm, there’s nowhere to park, he says.
Also, residents with driveways can find that they are blocked. It’s hardest on older residents and those with children or mobility issues, Farrell says.
At the moment, there are no parking controls in the area, aside from double-yellow lines in some places, said a council spokesperson. So, it’s legal for anybody to park up.
Labour’s Moynihan says people who work in James’s Hospital want to park all day for free, and so do those parking up to take the Luas into town.
But most residents have voted against permit parking in the area, and Moynihan says it will not be introduced on those streets.
In the meantime, councillors are waiting for a council report on how the ballot was done.
Down the Line
Farrell says he wants a broader public consultation with stakeholders, like the Luas operators, the hospital boards, and construction companies.
A spokesperson for the National Pediatric Hospital Development Board said, by email, that there are plans for 1,000 car parking spaces at the new hospital.
There is also an “ambitious plan to reduce staff car dependency”, and traffic management was dealt with rigorously when the hospital had its planning permission granted in 2016, they said.
The planning application from the hospital would have included a traffic-management plan, says MacVeigh, but it is unclear as yet how accurate that will be.
“We haven’t seen the full impact yet, not until the hospital opens,” she says.