Wednesday 16 October 2019

Swords public meeting hears case for reversing controversial bye-laws

The launch of the controversial bye-laws last year
The launch of the controversial bye-laws last year

Fingal Dog Owners Group held a further public meeting in the Carnegie Court Hotel in Swords recently, in an ongoing protest against a controversial new bye-law restricting 'off-leash' dog walking in Fingal parks.

Over 3,00 attendees including a number of local councillors attended the meeting, which included speeches and presentations from representatives of the local action group.

Fingal Dog Owners Group has lobbied Fingal County Council since the by-law was implemented by the Council last year, and has now become a high-profile lobby group attracting national media attention for what has proved to be a highly contentious issue.

Speaking after last week's meeting, Fingal Dog Owners Group's Chairperson, John O'Callaghan said: 'Overall, the meeting was a roaring success. The one disappointment was that a number of councillors who had been invited didn't come along, so we had about 11 councillors there in total.

'We wanted to engage with councillors and give evidence in terms of what we researched and the justification for amending the old by-law.

'We had a Powerpoint presentation, and we also engaged a dog behaviourist to speak of the detriment of restrictive dog parks, cages, designated and confined areas.

'That's what we wanted to achieve, and for them to support our proposal that they would sign a draft letter that we present to them to bring a motion to a full council meeting to review the bye-law before the end of this council session.'

There has been, he claims, some 'spin' from councillors who are claiming the issue is restricted to the Swords area.

He said: 'Some councillors are trying to spin this as a Swords only issue, but it's all of Fingal.

'There are seven regional parks in Fingal, and it affects all of those parks, plus some of the smaller parks, which they call regional parks and wouldn't have a categorisation.'

Mr O'Callaghan added: 'It is definitely a Fingal issue, and the problem for us is that we're a voluntary group and only newly established, and we haven't had the opportunity to organise and mobilise in the other regional areas as quickly as we would like to.'

The focus for Fingal Dog Owners Group now is on the next full council meeting on March 11, where it is the group hopes for councillors to put forward a motion to reverse the recent bye-law.

Fingal Independent