Following on from requests I had received from local residents, I put a motion down calling on the Council to remove the large boulder in the middle of Coolmine Woods, which is often the site of anti-social behaviour. I also asked the Council tidy up the ground around the large ‘Coolmine Woods’ namestone opposite the fire station.
I am delighted that the Council have agreed to act on these requests. The large boulder will be removed over the summer. The Council have further agreed to undertake planting around the stone plaque to improve the situation there.
I am delighted to have received confirmation from the National Transport Authority (NTA) that, if there are future proposals to close level crossings in the Dublin 15 area, the NTA will engage in genuine consultation with affected local communities, beyond any consultation that is required under legislation.
This confirmation was contained in a letter to me from Anne Graham, the Chief Executive of the NTA. This forms an important guarantee for Dublin 15 residents which will ensure that their views are not ignored in any future changes.
The attempt to close the Porterstown Road level crossing a number of years ago was badly mishandled and was a top-down attempt to impose a decision on a local community. Vigorous activism by local residents blocked the proposal, but the entire episode undermined confidence in the NTA. Since then, I have been working to ensure that a new approach is taken by the organisation, in the event that it seeks to make changes to the level crossings in the future.
Within Fingal County Council, I successfully submitted an amendment to the draft Fingal Development Plan to ensure that the Council officials accept the principle of prior consultation regarding the future of the level crossings. Now, I have also secured acceptance of this principle form the National Transport Authority.
I want to thank all the volunteers who were out with us this evening for our Annual Royal Canal Clean-Up. We worked a stretch of the Canal between the 12th Lock and Coolmine Train Station, picking up cans, glass, plastic bottles and other rubbish. We got a significant amount of waste collected, which Fingal County Council is now going to dispose of.
What is particularly positive is that, in the eight years we have been doing this, I’ve never seen the canal bank so lightly littered. There was significantly less waste this year than on previous occasions. This is a good sign and suggests people are valuing the Canal more
The Royal Canal continues to be a significant amenity for Dublin 15 residents and a potential tourist attraction for visitors interested in walking or cycling holidays. In the context of the new Fingal County Development Plan, I’m going to continue to work to ensure that it is protected for everyone’s enjoyment.
I’m pleased that Fingal County Council have agreed to extend an invitation to both Dublin Bus and the National Transport Authority to meet with the councillors of the Castleknock/Mulhuddart local area committee to discuss a range of issues related to bus routes across Dublin 15.
I’m particularly looking forward to raising the level of service on the 39 bus route. Since the 39A was redirected along the N3, Blanchardstown village, Coolmine and Clonsilla Road areas have seen a significant decrease in the number of available buses. While this was done in order for that route to serve more densely populated new areas like Ongar, it has meant that the older population of the Blanchardstown/Coolmine area are left with the much less frequent 39 route. I have received a significant number of representations by people, primarily those over 60, who have been negatively impacted by this. This service only operates every 30 minutes, for most of the day.
I’ll also be asking the representative from the National Transport Authority to consider the 17A route between Blanchardstown Centre and Kilbarrack DART station. This route passes near DCU, but does not actually stop at the university. A very significant number of DCU students live in Dublin 15, so having a direct bus route to the university would be hugely beneficial. I will be asking the NTA to consider a slight adjustment to the 17A bus route so that it actually connects to DCU.
Other issues I want to raise are the 120 route at Ashtown and the potential impact of the privatization of routes in the Dublin 15 area.
I’m pleased that the Minister for Transport – Pascal Donohoe – has committed that any future proposed changes to level crossings in Dublin 15 would be preceded by engagement with local residents. This same commitment had been made by the former Transport Minister, Leo Varadkar, during the June 2014 local elections. I’ve been seeking to have the new Minister confirm this commitment since he was appointed.
In May of last year, a freedom of information request I made to the National Transport Authority revealed that both the NTA and Fingal County Council had undertaken two studies examining the impact of closing level crossings in Dublin 15 along the Maynooth line and proposing alternative crossing points. The failed attempt to shut the level crossing at Porterstown followed on from these plans. At the time, the then Transport Minister, Leo Varadkar, circulated a leaflet in which he stated that no further efforts to close level crossings on the Maynooth line would be made prior to the end of 2018. He further stated that, in future, “consultation with local residents will take place long before any plans are put on public display”.
Since Pascal Donohoe was appointed Transport Minister in July 2014, I have been corresponding with his Department to see will he make similar commitments (see letters below). I am pleased that he has now finally reaffirmed both that no further efforts will be made to close crossings prior to 2018, but more importantly, that residents will be consulted prior to any future proposals going on public display.
The attempt to close the Porterstown Road level crossing in late 2013 – early 2014, with minimal engagement with local residents, deeply angered the community in the Clonsilla area. It has generated concerns in communities such as Coolmine and Ashtown that a similar top-down approach will be adopted towards the level crossings in these areas. It is absolutely vital that agencies like the National Transport Authority operate in a transparent fashion with local residents and properly respond to all the side effects that would result from any future proposals to close level crossings.
I’ve written to the new Transport Minister, Pascal Donohoe, in relation to a commitment made by his predecessor, Minister Varadkar, in June of this year. In response to concerns being expressed across Dublin 15 about the potential closure of level crossings, Minister Varadkar circulated a leaflet locally in which he stated that no further efforts to close level crossings on the Maynooth line would be made prior to the end of 2018. He further stated that, in future, “consultation with local residents will take place long before any plans are put on public display”.
The attempt to close the Porterstown Road level crossing in late 2013 – early 2014, with minimal engagement with local residents, deeply angered the community in the Clonsilla area. It has generated concerns in communities such as Coolmine and Ashtown that a similar top-down approach will be adopted towards the level crossings in these areas.
On behalf of residents living in the area, I have asked Minister Donohoe to restate the commitments given by Minister Varadkar that a) no further attempts to close these level crossings will be made before late 2018 and b) where there are proposals to close level crossings, residents will be consulted before planning document go on public display.
Having already revealed Irish Rails long term plans for these level crossings through my freedom of information request, I will continue to work with residents to ensure that they are fully involved in any proposals for these level crossings.
I’m pleased to see that Minister Varadkar has issues a letter clarifying some issues regarding the proposals to close level crossings in Dublin 15. This issue first came to public attention late last year with the attempt to close the Porterstown Road LC, but also applies at Coolmine and Clonsilla.
The Minister has stated that no work will take place until the end of 2018 at the earliest.
He has also stated that “… consultation with local residents will take place long before any plans are put on public display”.
I think this statement is really important. When I brought information into the public domain about what was being considered by the National Transport Authority and Fingal County Council through a Freedom of Information request, it was obvious that a lot of research had taken place without any public consultation. This research formed the basis of the attempt to close the Porterstown Road LC.
While we need to improve rail infrastructure across Dublin 15, it is vital that local communities who will be directly impacted by any changes are fully consulted and not railroaded (excuse the bad pun) into situations by public authorities.
I would expect that if Minister Varadkar is no longer Minister for Transport in 2018, whoever succeeds him must fulfil this commitment for full and early engagement with residents.
Throughout this local election campaign, the potential closure of level crossings across Dublin 15 has been a significant concern for people.
In order to find out exactly what is planned for the area, I put in a freedom of information request to the National Transport Authority looking for any documents relating to the closure of the Coolmine level crossing. The information that has been released to me is significant, as it reveals Irish Rail’s long terms plans for the level crossings in the area (Freedom of Information Act does not currently apply to Irish Rail, but I have the relevant information now anyway!).
The two reports obtained were entitled ‘Maynooth Rail Line Upgrade – Traffic Implications Report’ carried out for Fingal County Council in 2012 and ‘Maynooth Line Urban Level Crossings – NTA Briefing Document’ carried out for Irish Rail in late 2011.
The Traffic Implication report sets out a number of scenarios regarding increased traffic blockages in Dublin 15 if the level crossings are not addressed in the medium term. It also outlines out a range of options where various combinations of the existing level crossing are shut down and some are replaced by new bridging points.
The Briefing Document from the NTA shows that specific options have been considered for each of the level crossings in the area. It includes the proposals to close the Porterstown Road crossing, which were recently delayed by Fingal County Council. It also includes drawings for a new bridge across the Royal Canal and railway line between the St. Mochtas estate and Luttrell Park/Riverwood estates which would replace the current Coolmine level crossing. A pedestrian bridge would also be build over the existing level crossing.
The information was released to me in hard copy, but I am happy to make them available to anyone who wishes to inspect them.
The recent attempts by Irish Rail to close the Porterstown level crossing have been completely mishandled. Instead of releasing all the relevant information and having a wider discussion about traffic in the Dublin 15 area, Irish Rail tried to get Fingal County Council to slip the closure through unnoticed. I am making this information available as I believe that the people of Dublin 15 need to know what are the options available to them regarding traffic and transport in the area. This debate is vital for the long term sustainability of our community, and it should be held out in the option, not just within the Fingal Council chamber.