Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council at risk of prosecution and being seen as the “Keystone Cops of Local Government”

by Alex Greaney
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Alex Greaney

Blackrock Fine Gael Councillor Maurice Dockrell has expressed his dismay at Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council of being unaware of its own bye laws in respect of opening hours for Deansgrange Cemetery and risking prosecution. 

Cllr. Dockrell said: “For at least two years there has been intense focus on the proposed cycle route for Deansgrange. Numerous surveys, consultations, on-site explanations and so on have been conducted in order to inform Councillors of the best options in making this important decision as to the eventual route of the cycle path. Hours have been spent by Council Officials, employees and outside contractors as well as Councillors at Area Committee Meetings and in Council Meetings exploring the viability of various routes. Particular cognisance has been taken of the wishes of relatives of the deceased in Deansgrange Cemetery and the wider community in ensuring a respectful decision will be taken.

“This is why I was amazed to read in a briefing document entitled Deansgrange Cycle Scheme (Public Consultation Report, Feb 2023), prepared for a final briefing for Councillors on 1 March 2023, that the Cemetery is currently open 24/7, to pedestrians and cyclists.

“(The majority of the submissions did not know that the cemetery is already open 24/7 to pedestrians.

“This policy of 24/7 opening hours for pedestrians is in direct contravention of the ‘Bye Laws For Cemeteries Under The Control Of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council’ in force from 1 February 2014.

“It is clearly stated in the Bye Laws, under Schedule 2, that the Cemetery Visiting Hours are to be from 10am to 4.30pm 7 days a week. Gates are to be locked at 4pm and exit by 4.30pm. It is specifically noted that the Bye Laws are applicable for 24 hours, 7 days a week.”

Section 19 of the Bye Laws states that “A person who contravenes a provision of these bye-laws shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €1265.”

The Councillor continues: “It appears that the Council is in the embarrassing position of breaching its own bye laws and is at risk of criminal prosecution if a complaint were to be made to the Gardai.

“When I raised this matter at the briefing Council Staff were surprised and admitted they had not known of the existence of the Bye Laws. After two years of working on this project this is simply not good enough and is redolent of the serious misjudgements made on the Dun Laoghaire Baths Project. As a Council we are at risk of becoming the Keystone Cops of Local Government.

“I had my attention drawn to these particular Bye Laws, which are readily available after a few minutes of searching online, by a thoughtful and at times painful submission by the relatives of the deceased buried in Deansgrange Cemetery some months ago. Either this submission was not read or understood. In any event the cemetery, by law, should not be open 24/7 to pedestrians or anyone else.

“It could be that the opening times need to be revised, certainly to reflect the longer Spring and Summer days but that is no excuse for ignoring the Bye Laws as enacted by this Council as recently as December 2013. It does raise a legitimate concern as to what other Bye Laws are being overlooked.

“To be clear. I am against any cycle route going through the cemetery and against 24/7 access to pedestrians for public health and safety reasons as well as respect for the deceased.

“I shall be addressing this issue and other local issues at my public meeting tonight  March 9 in Kill O the Grange Parish Hall at 7.30pm.”

Click on link to read more in this weeks Digital EditionDublin Gazette – Digital Edition – March 9, 2023 %

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