Protesting dog owners feel barking mad over council ‘delay’ tactic

by Sylvia Pownall

A group campaigning for the reversal of bye-laws restricting off-leash dog walking say they are disappointed and frustrated that their voice is not being heard.

Members of Fingal Dog Owners Group (DOG) staged a protest outside Monday’s council meeting in Swords and presented a petition of almost 9,000 signatures.

But they were forced to sit through three hours of what their chairman Dermot Byrne described as “filibustering at its best” as a motion on the bye-laws was not discussed.

Officials did not accept the petition from Cllrs Jimmy Guerin (Ind) and Paul Donnelly (SF) on the group’s behalf, and a request for a ten-minute extension to the meeting to debate the issue was refused by Mayor Cllr Anthony Lavin (FG).

Cllr Donnelly said: “It was very odd. The length of some of the presentations was ridiculous.

“We have only two meetings left [before the local elections] and we haven’t gotten to discuss any motions for more than six months now.”

Cllr Donnelly said he would be writing to council chief executive Paul Reid and other councillors seeking a change to the way they do business – and a ban on non-statutory presentations until the backlog of motions is cleared.

The bye-laws, which were introduced last year, dictate that dogs can only be walked off-leash in public parks before 11am or an hour before closing.

Fingal DOG argues that this is discriminatory and unhealthy and poses risks for dogs, their owners and other park users.

Fingal DOG spokesman John O’Callaghan told Dublin Gazette: “We sat in the gallery and watched one presentation on WiFi, which had 28 slides.

“Another one – the housing report for 2018, which is done and dusted – that was 34 slides.

“If this is local democracy, well … Our next step is an emergency committee meeting.

“The local elections are only around the corner and we could make life very uncomfortable.”

Related Articles