Reply To: Frank McDonald/Dick Gleeson Interview

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Yep, a very good evening and hats off to The Dubliner. Organisation was a bit iffy; the interview was changed to downstairs at the last minute and there were sound and capacity issues. However, it just goes to show that there’s a market for intelligent debate in a relaxed setting such as this. DCC would do well to organise some of their consultations along these lines. Frank did give him an easy ride but I think we have a good city planner in Dick Gleeson.

Working from memory (please correct me if I’m wrong), DCC would like to see real mixed-use in all of the citys residential hot-spots. He cited the IFSC as an example of the way forward, admitting that Phase 1 was lacking but that Phase 2 is injecting life and a sense of place into the area. Ditto for Smithfield. Problem is that development is still market led and developers have had their fingers burnt after falling for the ‘build it and they will come’ mantra. DCC is structured in such a way that it cannot front-load capital intensive projects itself and relies on the Government which he says has been slow to release funds.

The three towers in Heuston are still very much part of their plans though the whole area of tall buildings is under review. They are still caught up in legalities re the Carlton site but regard it as absolutely crucial to their regeneration plans for the street. Seems like the new Abbey is top of their list for the site but the window of opportunity may close soon.

He didn’t really see the benefit of the airport metro link and given a choice would like to see the Luas integrated and extended to a figure-of-eight pattern in the city centre serving the cultural, business, shopping and residential areas on both sides of the river. He wasn’t in the least bit repentent about the trees on O’Connell St and said that you sometimes just have to bite the bullet. Agrees that there is a lack of greenery in the city centre and there will be a shift of focus from the large estate public lands on the city fringes to more central areas. Temple Bar will be a priority in this regard. From the floor we had a statement from the ‘indignant mad woman’ (Helen Lucy Burke) re overshadowing of the artisan housing in the Coombe with tall office blocks and the allegation that DCC engineers were specifically ordered to quickly cover over any archaeological finds lest they hold up works. One question related to the provision of a shuttle bus to and from the Phoenix Park (apparently only tour buses are allowed in the park) and a question about why the gates of all the greens are closed at sundown (‘Would anybody want to go in if they were open’, he retorted). Biggest cheer of the evening was for a proposal from the floor that College Green be pedestrianised to which he said he agreed and was being looked into.

P.S Afterwards I had Frank sign my copy of ‘The Destruction of Dublin’ and he mentioned his new book is being written under the working title of ‘The Destruction of Ireland’ and will document the blight of ribbon development, poor suburban housing development, corrupt county councils, et al. Sure to be interesting!

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