Monday 23 September 2019

Driving the agenda on city traffic chaos

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)


Dublin City Council chief executive Owen Keegan is not a man who deliberately courts controversy, but it has managed to find him twice in the one week.

His comments about what he regards as the hollow logic at the heart of the Christmas takeover of Apollo House earned him few friends, even if much of what he said on the topic was little more than common sense.

Today his views on the future of the motor car in the city centre is likely to irritate a different constituency just as much. But he deserves to be heard because while his forthright delivery tends to inflame passions, again he speaks a lot of common sense.

Returning to a topic that has been aired many times before, Mr Keegan spoke of the benefits of banning private cars from accessing certain parts of the capital city, including College Green. He also spoke of a two-way cycle path on the north quays with cars and trucks diverted.

This could eventually be extended to the IFSC and would, he claimed, be part of a 'game-changer'.

But it creates great challenges too. Dublin - and the satellite commuter belt - would need to have access to greatly improved public transport if the City Council's master plan was ever to be realised. You can't simply make driving into the city centre prohibitively expensive, or painful, without offering the carrot of a decent alternative.

There are two sides to every story and while suggesting idealised solutions to Dublin's chronic congestion problems are to be lauded, they can't and won't work in isolation.

Mr Keegan name-checks the new Luas link-up as part of that solution but, really, it is only a small part of any equation.

And he is long enough at this game to know that.

Remembering a true giant of Irish letters

The death of Anthony Cronin has robbed the arts world of a great talent who has been at the heart of Irish cultural affairs for more than 60 years.

A poet, journalist, novelist, biographer, academic and arts administrator, Mr Cronin’s influence across such a broad range of disciplines was crucial in those early decades when a young nation was finding and defining its artistic voice and identity.

Born in 1928 in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford – the home town too of novelist Colm Tóibín – Mr Cronin’s output had lessened greatly in recent years, but he still penned a much-loved and widely read poetry column in the ‘Sunday Independent’.

A contemporary of Patrick Kavanagh and Flann O’Brien, he was also a prominent arts activist in the 1980s, when he was an adviser to Taoiseach Charles Haughey, a man he admired for his artistic passion.

He was also a founding member of Aosdána.

In a year when the world of arts and entertainment lost so many greats, it would be remiss not to give this veteran of the world of Irish letters his due.

Men of such vision and cultural integrity are rare. We need to cherish them when we have them and generously acknowledge them when they depart.

The arts are not, as is too often assumed, peripheral to the  serious business of nationhood. Instead they are integral to who we are and what we strive to be.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Irish Independent

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