We need, as a matter of urgency, to establish a public realm taskforce on Dublin City Council 

Dublin City Council’s approach to an outdoor summer is akin to the promotion of abstinence as a sex education policy – it won’t work, according to Social Democrats Councillor Catherine Stocker.

“We have been told, by our political and public health leaders, to expect an ‘outdoor summer’ – there is advertising signage around the city promoting an outdoor summer and public health guidelines allow for up to six people from multiple households to meet. Yet today we learn from media reports that city streets may be closed off.

“As a city council we have to deal in reality and the reality is that over the summer period, particularly in warm weather, people are going to gather outdoors. The city council’s current policy is akin to the promotion of abstinence as a sex education policy – it won’t work and will exacerbate the problem.

“It should be borne in mind that many of those socialising on our streets do not have access to private outdoor space as a result of government and city housing policies. Some are still living in their parental homes into their twenties and thirties and others live in apartments with limited outdoor space.

“An ‘outdoor summer’ cannot simply be a commercial summer. We cannot have a policy or approach that discourages those who are not spending money from using our public spaces. We have a responsibility to provide a welcoming public realm for all of our city’s residents.

“Closing off public spaces pushes more people into the remaining spaces and intensifies any problems. We need, as a matter of urgency, to establish a public realm task force, as a subcommittee of the covid recovery taskforce with representation from the city council, the parks department, the Gardai, Dublin Town, the women’s committee and other stakeholders.

“The immediate priorities of this taskforce should be to facilitate more public spaces through the pedestrianisation of non-arterial streets; adequately provide for those streets in terms of toilets, public seating and the provision of large numbers of regularly serviced bins; appoint street wardens to help manage crowds and liaise with DCC and Gardai on litter and public order issues; ensure businesses serving takeaway food and drinks provide bins; and plan, promote and encourage outdoor events and activities in local areas throughout the city to limit congregation in the city centre and provide family friendly options

“My party colleagues and I, on Dublin City Council, have written to Dublin City Chief Executive today to make these, and a number of other, suggestions.”

31 May, 2021


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