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Let’s hope for a better new Dublin City Chief Executive!

Like at a funeral, when people in Ireland feel it is inappropriate to tell the truth about the person in the coffin, Dublin City Councillors were trying to be find complementing words for the now-retired former Chief Executive of Dublin City, Owen Keegan.

But many of them were probably more leaning towards the “Good Riddance” side than the “What a pity” side.

Without a shadow of a doubt Keegan left a stamp on Dublin City (and on Dun Laoghaire) and many think he caused significantly more damage than good.

He started in 1993 as an Assistant City Manager in Dublin and then became Director of Traffic. Dublin got a break from him when from 2006 until 2013 he was County Manager of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, but reportedly people in Dun Laoghaire celebrated his return to Dublin City 2013, then as Chief Executive. Another 10 years (2013-2023) in Dublin completed his THIRTY year long (questionable) contribution to our city.

Having ZERO accountability to councillors or citizens or inhabitants of Dublin City is the worst possible arrangement. The Chief Executive of the city runs the city in ALL aspects, with the grandiose titled “Lord Mayor” being just a representative figure with no control or influence over anything. It is shocking that we still do not have an elected mayor!!

And when you then get a chief executive (that is selected by the “Public Appointments Service”, which is purely looking for the right CV, not the right passion and ideas) who has his own agenda that he ruthlessly pursues for 10 years, ignoring and overruling the elected City Councillors at every possibility, then it becomes a real good news story when he finally retires.

Deputy chief executive Richard Shakespeare will be in charge now until the Public Appointments Service (not them again!!!) will have selected a new chief executive, who again will have NO democratic mandate to rule our city. At a salary of EUR 200,000 per year, we can be certain that many civil servants will be interested in the job, but despite the high salary, it is unlikely that a talented business leader will get a chance.

College Green: Traffic Calming vs Traders – Dublin City Mess!

College Green: Traffic Calming vs Traders – Dublin City Mess!

What a mess! With the new Luas passing Trinity College at College Green and needing traffic priority, the buses and taxis that are also still allowed to use the street are causing some problems, so Dublin City Management lead by the Dublin City Manager Owen Keegan would love to close down College Green immediately even before a decision has been made about the new College Green Plaza and the planned 10mio regeneration of the area.

The Planning Authority “An Bord Pleanala” has to decide on projects like that and Dublin City Council applied in May of last year for permission to build this traffic-free plaza and ban ALL traffic (including buses and hopefully taxis) from access to Dame Street. An Bord Pleanala was meant to decide in November, but in August the planning authority ordered a “comprehensive assessment” after they must have received submissions from organisations that had concerns (e.g. Dublin Bus, the National Transport Authority and traders in Dublin.

Dublin City submitted their assessment in October, but then Bord Pleanala ordered that the public should get full visibility of the results and should be allowed to make further submissions. This public hearing was planned for next week. However on Thursday An Bord Pleanala notified the parties that were meant to be involved in that hearing that it will now NOT go ahead. It seems that the organisation that is tasked with making sure that people stick to (planning) rules made a mistake with rules about consultation periods and it is now unclear when the hearing will happen and when An Bord Pleanala will make a decision.

Originally Dublin City Council wanted to have the new plaza in place by the time the LUAS line opens. It is questionable if that was achievable, but the LUAS is running and we are in a huge mess regarding the College Green Plaza plans.

Owen Keegan, who seems to hate cars, now wants to ban buses and taxis from College Green even before a decision about the College Green Plaza is made and he gets strong support from Green Party Councillor Ciaran Cuffe who recently fought hard against busking in Temple Bar and who always seemed to have favoured bikes over cars.

So does it make sense what they are fighting for? The answer is YES and NO. Private cars are already banned from College Green, so the question is if buses and taxis should also be banned and I would say NO to the ban of buses and YES to the ban of taxis. Taxis are nothing else but private individual transport with the difference that they are temporarily hired instead of owned by the passenger and they should be treated that way. Buses on the other hand are public transport vehicles in the same way as the LUAS and bus drivers also don’t just suddenly stop in the middle of the street as taxis do, so I think there is nothing wrong with buses sharing the LUAS lane, but get taxis out!

However, there is another question: It could happen that the the College Green Plaza will never be realised if An Bord Pleanala decides against it, so should the Dublin City traffic decision not wait for the An Bord Pleanala decision?

It all looks like a BIG mess! …it is so big that I could easily have gotten something wrong in my description above, but I hope not!

oThe Irish Times wrote about it here.

College Green and the traffic

College Green and the traffic

Whoever thinks that Dublin City a) has a clue what they are doing regarding traffic measures or b) thinks they are doing a good job, really needs to wake up!

The public transport in our beloved Dublin is horrendously poor and the prices are much too high. The attempts to ban cars from the city are in principal not a bad idea, but because it all happens totally disjointed while ignoring some of Dublin’s geographical particularities and without improving the poor Public Transport, things are not looking good. The LUAS improved things a little, but plan to build two isolated lines should have appeared odd many many years ago. Now the cross-city LUAS is being added and it just points out the incapabilities of the people running the city.

Last week then, the current Dublin City “Manager” Owen Keegan, who was the Director of Traffic (!!) for many years in Dublin, said that he has no clue what to do with the buses that used the route along College Green once the LUAS tracks are installed. Dublin Bus wants to use the route again (that’s where the passengers are), Dublin City Management wants to ban all cars from College Green and if you ban cars, then I think ALL traffic (including buses and taxis) should be banned from an area. Either pedestrianise it or not!! Imagine they had allowed taxis and buses to continue driving in Grafton Street and Henry Street when they pedestrianised these streets!?

And you wonder what will happen to the buses on College Green? Who knows! If the Dublin City Manager and former Director of Traffic has no clue, things are looking bad!

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