Hospital to blame for closing road -- council

TRAFFIC: St James' actions are adding to congestion

Cormac Murphy

DUBLIN City Council has accused a major hospital of closing an access road "without any consultation".

The local authority said it did not have any dialogue with St James' Hospital about the decision, which was taken "unilaterally".

The issue was highlighted by Labour councillor Michael O'Sullivan who said taxi drivers now have nowhere to park at the hospital.

In reply, the council said the road in question -- linking James' Street to Rialto -- is "private" but it believes there is a "public right of way" on the route.

"St James' Hospital has closed the road unilaterally without any consultation. We understand it is because of congestion caused by through traffic," it added.

However, far from solving the traffic-jam issue, the move has made things worse, according to the local authority.

"The traffic department has received complaints relating to congestion caused by the closure," the council said.

"The closure, we understand, is permanent and we have no further information at present," it added.

Cllr O'Sullivan had asked the council's traffic advisory group (TAG) to negotiate with St James' to "facilitate proper organised taxi rank parking spaces within the hospital grounds".

"Taxi drivers who for many years had provided a service to the public using the hospital have without any negotiation been excluded from continuing their business in St James'," the South Central Area representative said.

The hospital did not reply to a request for a comment at the time of writing.

John Ussher, president of the Irish Taxi Drivers' Federation, told the Herald the situation is "very unsatisfactory" for his members.

He explained that, while the council is responsible for ranks in the city, it cannot provide such a facility within the grounds of the hospital.

The rank in St James' had been provided by the unit's board of management.

"They said they experienced problems up at the rank and decided to close it down. They won't allow taxis to park there any more," Mr Ussher said.


He added that drivers used to wait outside the main door but the system has changed, with visitors and patients now having to ring for a taxi before they can be collected.

Mr Ussher said the main road through the grounds was closed to combat traffic congestion.

"We are trying to negotiate an alternative. Dublin City Council are prepared to give us a rank on James' St, but we are trying to get a phone as well," he said.

He added that a rank without a phone -- allowing the hospital to ring the drivers directly -- would not work.