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'They expect me at 78 to park my car 10 minutes away' - anger at Malahide pedestrian trial

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Mary Lynch on New Street in Malahide which is now closed off to traffic and bicycles

Mary Lynch on New Street in Malahide which is now closed off to traffic and bicycles

Mary Lynch on New Street in Malahide which is now closed off to traffic and bicycles

There has been a mixed reaction in the popular north Dublin town of Malahide after Fingal County Council pedestrianised New Street and removed some parking spaces.

As part of the 'Walk Bike Fingal initiative', the council pedestrianised New Street and the 32 Dublin Bus route has been diverted through Old Street, which has resulted in the loss of several parking spaces.

The Walk Bike Fingal initiative "seeks to encourage and facilitate social distancing for citizens going about their daily business", according to the council.

The pedestrianisation is currently being trialled for 10 weeks having been put in place in mid-June and will be reviewed by the council and local groups at the end of the trial period.

The initiative aims to bring a "European-style" feel to the village, with clothing stores encouraged to bring out their rails and restaurants to set up tables outside.

A resident of Old Street all her life, Mary Lynch (78) told the Herald she was advised to park her car at Malahide Castle, a 10-minute walk away.

"They gave us no notice and took seven parking spaces from us. Do you expect me at nearly 79 years of age to park my car at the castle and walk back when I want it?" she asked.

The council consulted with Malahide Chamber of Commerce, Shop Malahide, Malahide Tidy Towns and Malahide Community Forum prior to enacting the initiative.

However, Mary said that nobody "knocked on my door".

"Because we weren't in a residents' association, because we're all older on the street and didn't join, they didn't come near us."

Fingal County Council said residents can apply for parking permits and use parking bays: "Four age-friendly parking spaces have been provided and installed in the centre of the town."

Trish Bennet, who owns Kocoon ladies boutique on Strand Street, said her business has been affected by the removal of approximately 20 parking spaces on New Street.

"A lot of my clients would be mature and get either a lift or are dropped off to the shop, but there's nowhere for them to park now," said Trish.

"I can't see the logic in it and I feel it's had a devastating effect on businesses."

Success

Garry Duggan is chairman of the Malahide Community Forum and was consulted by Fingal County Council prior to the initiative being enacted.

"The initiative will only be made permanent if the trial is deemed a success," he said.

Patrick McNamara of Malahide Tidy Towns said of the pedestrianisation that there are "a lot of people for it and a lot of people against it".

"We're seeing similar pedestrianisation happening in Cork. During consultations, we were shown examples of similar initiatives in Utrecht in Holland.

"Fingal is a great council and does great work. It's a small village and people will be for it and against it."

Tony Gibney is one of the owners of Gibney's Pub and is also a resident on New Street.

"There was some consultation, but it doesn't appear to have been enough. A lot of people didn't know enough," he said.

He said that while bars and restaurants can set up tables outside, they cannot serve any alcohol outside.

"It's important for people to realise that...we can't sell intoxicating liquor on the street and that's what our licence is for.

"We need to work together and see how it goes and I would ask people to have an open mind."

A statement from the council said that an initial needs assessment was carried out to "temporarily repurpose Fingal streets, roads and public realm spaces" to keep in line with social and physical distancing requirements. The measures are being closely monitored and reviewed by council engineers and reviewed at intervals as the Government restrictions changed."

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