Re: Re: Smithfield Wasteland

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From today’s Irish Times….

DUBLIN CITY Council is to undertake a multimillion euro project to finally complete Smithfield Plaza, 10 years after it was originally constructed.

However, it said there are no funds for the planned relocation of Smithfield horse fair.
The large open plaza was built in 1999 at a cost of £3.5 million as the centre piece of the regeneration of the run-down northwest inner city area. However, the southern end of the plaza, through which the Luas line now runs, was never finished and remains a jumble of concrete, tarmac and cobblestones. The plaza has been vastly under-utilised, and is probably best known for its annual ice-skating rink and the monthly horse market, which has been condemned by the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA).

The council is seeking about €2 million in EU funding, which will be matched by council funds, for the project which it hopes to complete by December 2010. It will be completed at a later date if EU funding is not forthcoming.

In addition to finishing the plaza it intends to provide water, drainage and power facilities on the existing space to support events and markets. It also plans to plant trees and other greenery and to provide children’s amenities on the space.

The Smithfield horse market drew attention last Sunday after an injured horse was sold to an 11-year-old boy for €8. The DSPCA has said the sale of neglected and sick animals at the market is endemic and the organisation has campaigned for the closure of the market for several years.

The council has also long sought the removal of the fair, but has been blocked by an ancient market right of horse traders to hold their sales on the land. The council did temporarily ban the fair in 2002 after a horse bolted and ran on to the quays, where it crashed into a car occupied by a woman and a child. However, the traders returned to the plaza, citing their market right.

The council has received legal advice that it could only close the fair, and extinguish the market right, if it provided a suitable alternative site. It had identified a site in the Ballymun/Finglas area, which it had begun assessing early last year. It now emerges that the council has to abandon plans for this site because of a lack of funds.

“We would have required capital funding to acquire the site, to construct the facilities, and to build things like running areas and car parking, and we would have needed funding to run the site, and in the current climate it couldn’t be done,” Charlie Lowe, manager of the central area of the city, said.

The council was still determined to remove the fair from Smithfield and was now seeking an “alternative legal remedy” for extinguishing the market right.

“The whole thing is a complete mess, but it was the local authority that allowed the market right all those years ago and it behoves the local authority to come up with a remedy… It’s on our desk and we have to deal with it.”

In the meantime, the council intends to press ahead with the completion of the plaza between Haymarket and Aran Street West and the improvement of the current facilities of the plaza.

Two words…… AT LAST!

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