What’s next for O’Connell Street?- Social Democrats discuss plans

Louise Hickey

Viewers were left horrified by a Prime Time episode last month, where host Fran McNulty approached drug dealers on O’Connell Street and highlighted the lack of safety on what’s meant to be Dublin’s main street.

Other footage showed homeless tents, multiple fights on the street and urine over historical statues.

Dublin City Council (DCC) told the show that there would be a “deep clean” in November.

Following on from the episode there has been a collective desire for change on the street which holds so much Irish history and is a place of attraction for tourists.

Last Wednesday, the 16th of November, the Social Democrats held a meeting with the public, in Wynn’s Hotel on Abbey Street.

 “To get O’Connell Street on the agenda, bring some ideas to the forefront, get people together to plan what this street could be”, TD for Dublin Central constituency, Gary Gannon, explained the reasoning for this meeting

Throughout the night plans were discussed on what could aid the revitalisation of the street, along with what plans would actually hinder the progress.

The government had already made plans to set up a 24-hour Garda station on the street by the end of Summer in order to tackle anti-social behaviour, however, since the deadline has been reached there have been no further plans.

Journalist Una Mullaly gave her say, explaining that Guards move groups of young people for loitering.

On discussing the need for a station, Councillor Cat O’Driscoll from the Cabra/Glasnevin area explained that guards are not the answer to all problems surrounding the city and that there are already plans in progress for “safety wardens employed to help people on the street, alert Guards if they are needed, but would be a much softer approach”.

The idea of more areas for public gatherings was mutually agreed upon. Current plans are being made for a library in Parnell square. O’Driscoll said that this “would be a great community resource for the inner city”.

There are also ongoing proposals to redevelop what used to be the ‘Carlton’ into a public place. On the night, replacement plans for a hotel or shopping space were spoken about.

The idea of simple introductions to the city centre like benches were discussed. Comparing O’Connell Street to Dun Laoghaire, Mullaly said “they do bike segregation way better, utilise public space way better, they have multiple public toilets”.

O’Driscoll spoke about how the North side of Dublin can be neglected at times “even in very close borders, each side of the Liffey feels very different. As a city councillor for the North side, I feel the attention goes on to the Southside a lot”.

The Social Democrats held the meeting in the hope to get a coalition of people together to tackle the problem on O’Connell Street.

Louise Hickey

Image credit: Depositphotos