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Protest against Depedestraianisation of Sligo's O'Connell Street
Wednesday November 11, 2009 00:55 by Aisling Ryan - O'Connell Street Sligo Campaign sligoactivism at gmail dot com
Call Out for Support for Street Demonstration against Depedestraianisation of Sligo's O'Connell St
Sligo's elected representatives have ignored the majority of public opinion and have voted to reopen O'Connell Street to traffic. What can we do??
O'Connell Street Festival
On Monday November 2nd, the Sligo Borough Councillors made a decision to remove all mention of the Pedestrianisation of O'Connell Street from the 2010-2015 Sligo Environmental Development Plan. This was in the face of massive public protest. The Councillors made this decision as public representatives and claiming it was in the public interest. Sligo's O'Connell St was pedestrianised three years ago and is very much a public space with cafe's and bars putting tables on the street and festivals and cultural events taking place all year around. Reopening the street to traffic would be a huge blow to the culture of the town.
This decision has ignored the majority of submissions made during the consultation period into the planning process:
- 60 submissions opposing the removal of the pedestrianised street
- one submission was signed by 2850 persons, as opposed to two submission supporting the opening of pedestriansation street to traffic signed by 100 people. This constitutes a 96.5% majority.
This decision bypassed the legal consultation process. Sligo Borough Councillors, including the Mayor of Sligo, Cllr Jimmy McGarry, announced publicly that the decision to open O’Connell Street to traffic was already made. In the September 9th issue of the Irish Times, the Mayor is quoted as saying “It’s all systems go, all green lights,” ("said Mayor of Sligo, Cllr Jimmy McGarry"). “The street will be open to traffic on December 9th”. This defies the legal planning process under the 2000 Planning Act. Therefore the decision and proposed Development Plan made on November 2nd does not constitute legal process and defies the public’s right to due consultation and transparency on this matter. This is a clear violation of the Planning Act and has eroded the citizens' faith in public consultation. The Borough Councillors have repeatedly failed to provide any valid argument or professional reports justifying removing O'Connell Street as a pedestrianised zone. They have also failed to provide any documented evidence of significant citizen support for this unpedestrianisation.
Sligo's citizens, the Sligo Chamber of Commerce and traders on O'Connell Street are currently seeking the support of Minister for the Environment John Gormley to overturn this decision, which was taken illegally, against the Sligo Development Plan. Although the planned date to reopen the street is early December the Councillors plan on starting work immediately. While waiting on Minister Gormley to intervene the committee assembled to protest the depedestrianisation are seeking the support of people willing to sit out in the street to prevent works taking place.
We're looking for people who may be able to come to Sligo at a couple of days notice for a few hours to sit in on a rotation basis. We're not sure at this moment when the work might start so are unable to provide details of when bodies are needed but if you email the following address we will contact you as soon as we know where and when! The coordination contact email is firstname.lastname@example.org.