15 Dec 2006

Grafton Street

Regarding the discussion last week on the extremely debatable/possibly a serious mistake decision by Dublin City Council to designate Grafton Street an Architectural Conservation area, this from Labour Cllr Dermot Lacey in Dublin City Council:

‘Thank you for sending me a copy of the Planning Dispatch. I actually really enjoyed it and found myself roughly agreeing with half and violently disagreeing with the rest. On the Grafton Street Plan … I was convinced that it was desirable to have a special plan for what I regard to be a special place and to try and lift the street again form its present state. Yes I would have loved to see more media coverage of the issue… However when we have a Public Service Broadcaster that is so awful and so ill informed this can be hard to achieve.’

Thanks, Dermot. Grafton Street may need a bit of a lift, but the Heritage provisions of the Planning Act are a very blunt instrument which should be used with caution and consideration and I think that Local Councillors have a duty to understand the underlying legislation they are working with in order to achieve an objective. (And you don’t have to disagree ‘violently’. We’re peace lovers here at the Dispatch.)

I contacted some of the traders who had been singled out for dishonorable mention in the ACA report but I got only one written response. It was from Vodafone.

‘…Vodafone Ireland is aware of Dublin City Council's concerns and is in support of any measures which preserve the overall aesthetics of the street.  Vodafone is open to any reasonable requests in that regard and looks forward to continued open dialogue with the Council in the future.  Vodafone has two outlets on Grafton St and no plans to open any more stores there…’

The point is, Vodafone, that it’s just as well you have no further plans to open on Grafton Street because Dublin City Council has taken that decision out of your hands. The Council says you are unwelcome and from now on you can anticipate being nudged out of city centre sites not just in Dublin but around the country as well.

Fintan Duffy

There was applause for Fintan Duffy’s rant on the state of the nation. A correspondent from Galway wanted to know more about him. I’m sure Fintan wouldn’t mind my giving away that he is a partner in DHB Architects in Waterford. He and his wife Maura Henry have been very instrumental in successfully establishing a full architectural degree course at WIT. Fintan has a wide range of interests… and is very opinionated.

General Responses

First of all I have to say I have no polical affiliation and, in fact, have, until recently, had little idea of the character of and differences between the various political parties. Responses to the Dispatch have meant that I'm beginning to figure things out a little bit. Based on a totally non scientific assessment of responses to the Dispatch so far, I would have to say that Fine Gael Councillors are about twice as likely to make direct contact than all other groups combined. They are are also the most militant in their calls for change. The Labour Party Councillors have conveyed a conservatism which was a real surprise to me. And Indepdents write the most considered comments.

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