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Sunday 15 December 2019

'It'll be like a playground when the kids come in early' - students to benefit from pedestrianised street during school runs

Mayor of Fingal Eoghan O’Brien and GAA player Dean Rock with children from St Oliver Plunkett’s on the section of closed road on Grove Road. Pic Orla Murray/ SON Photo
Mayor of Fingal Eoghan O’Brien and GAA player Dean Rock with children from St Oliver Plunkett’s on the section of closed road on Grove Road. Pic Orla Murray/ SON Photo

Gabija Gataveckaite

A street near a school in north-east Dublin will be pedestrianised during school runs to combat road congestion and risks to children from unsafe parking.

A section of Grove Road outside St Oliver Plunkett’s National School in Malahide will cut off car access from 8.30am to 9.15am and from 1pm-2.45pm, Mondays to Fridays during term time.

This will also have an affect on the children of St Andrew’s National School, which is around the corner from St Oliver’s.

Exceptions to the pedestrianised zone will be for disabled badge holders, those living within the zone and residents with permits, with teachers arriving before the 8.30am start.

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The School Streets initiative, rolled out by Fingal County Council, will be the first of its kind in Ireland.

It aims to tackle challenges faced by the school, including traffic jams at drop off and collection times, unsafe parking and road congestion as well as air pollution.

It is also a bid to improve children’s safety during drop-off and collection times, as well as encouraging walking to school.

It has been running for a week and officially launched today by Dublin footballer Dean Rock.

“I love walking to school because I care very much about the environment and I’m on the green team at my school,” said Mia Deutrom from Portmarnock, who is in sixth class in St Oliver’s.

“My mum drops me off down the road and I walk 10 minutes to school every day, I do enjoy the walk as I see my friends on the way there and I walk to the school with them,” she added.

Fianna Fáil Councillor and Fingal Mayor Eoghan O’Brien said that the initiative was “in the works for a while”.

“It took the guts of a year from inception.

“It was presented to Councillors about eight to ten weeks ago and we did a public consultation and made some changes based on some of the feedback that we got from the residents in the area, obviously it was a big change,” he explained.

“But we know it works abroad so there’s no reason that it can’t work elsewhere.”

Claire O’Connor principal of St Oliver’s welcomed the change.

“I’m delighted from the kids point of view because we talk about having a safe school environment, because we could control what happens inside the gate but we have very little control of what happens outside the gate.

“The pedestrianised road will be like a playground when the kids come to school early. What child wouldn’t like that?” she said.

Met Eireann forecaster Joanna Donnelly was also at the launch of the initiative this morning as her two sons, aged 10 and 12, attend the school.

“I had concerns before because we’d wonder how do we get up the street in the morning, because the traffic would be at a standstill in the morning,” she told Independent.ie.

“I hope to set up a cycle bus to pick up the kids along the way and get the kids here safely,” she said.

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