Jack Quann
Jack Quann

14.58 31 May 2021


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A Green Party TD says local authorities need to prepare for an outdoor summer, following scenes of large crowds in Dublin.

Neasa Hourigan was speaking after large numbers of people gathered on Saturday evening, including around the South William Street and Temple Bar areas.

The TD for Dublin Central told Pat Kenny there is an onus on Government, and local authorities, to prepare for such scenes.

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"I think what it was an emblem of was that local authorities have simply failed to understand the scale of the challenge that we're facing this summer.

"I think Dr Holohan was absolutely right to voice his concern, he's a public health official, and he will see things through that prism and advise people what they should be doing.

"But it's the role of local authorities and Government to plan for what people will actually do and try and make reasonable provision for it.

"So despite the continuing threat of new variants, the country is opening up - we are starting to see shops open and people coming out on to the streets.

"They want to reconnect with each other, with their friends and their family, and we need to help them to do that safely - and not kettle them together in piecemeal scraps of city streets.

"Part of the problem with South William Street [is] it's one of the few streets that people can actually stand on safely.

"If we had something like College Green more pedestrianised, there would be more space for people to access the public realm more safety, if we had toilets, if we had a suitable amount of bins".

'Difficult to do the right thing'

Deputy Hourigan gave the example of Italian cities "which would have huge crowds in the summer months.

"They have municipal waste, massive barrel bins, and they do a big clean-up at 6am the next day - so that would be the norm there".

She said messaging around an outdoor summer is now confusing.

"Nobody wants to litter, and I certainly am not defending littering - I would advise people to operate on a 'leave no trace basis' and take their litter with them.

"Every bin in the city is overflowing, so it's difficult to do the right thing - and secondly, just to be clear, someone driving into the city in their car is actually doing more long-term irreparable damage to the environment because litter can ultimately be picked up.

"This city, Dublin anyway, is certainly covered in posters that is telling people [to] have an outdoor summer.

"But when they do that and when they go in to the city and have an outdoor summer, many of them - including myself - who don't have an outdoor space, we don't have a lawn to sit out on and drink a glass of wine... then they're being pointed at and saying 'You're not doing the right thing'".

Pat Kenny suggested the Green Party, as one of the parties in Government, has had 15 months to prepare for this.

Deputy Hourigan said extra funding has been allocated to local authorities for waste collection.

"Local authorities are autonomous groups and we can't force them to do that - I certainly have been advocating with Dublin City Council for them to provide more and more public space, and I have been doing that for months.

"We can't force them to do it, but can advise them that this is what the challenge will be.

"And certainty this weekend was a very good example of the level of space that will be required - and we don't have that right now".

Local authorities 'need to prepare for an outdoor summer', Dublin TD says

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

    

The Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan expressed his shock over the scenes, suggesting it looked like a "major open-air" party.

While the HSE's Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry said the scenes "looked like V-Day" celebrations.

He earlier told Newstalk Breakfast that it was understandable why some people feel the need for "some kind of release" as restrictions ease.

"Younger people for the most part did their best to protect their older citizens. A huge acknowledgement is required by all of us to them… they’ve suffered from isolation and lost opportunities in life.

“But some of the scenes looked like V-Day, as if the virus had surrendered. This virus doesn’t surrender.

“It exploits our weakest position - and our weakest position of course is those who are unvaccinated. It exploits congested gatherings, and certainly situations where there is alcohol."

“This is not V-Day… it’s a longer war", he said.

Main image: Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan speaking to the media in the Raddisson Blu Hotel, Dublin in January 2020. Picture by: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

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Crowds Dublin Green Party Litter Neasa Hourigan Pat Kenny South William Street Temple Bar

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