City Hall chief executive Ann Doherty says there is no exact date for the pedestrianisation of city centre streets but the local authority will move "very quickly" on the matter.
A major aspect of the evolving plans for the gradual reopening of Cork City is the pedestrianisation of a number of streets.
The Marina became pedestrianised on Friday between Páirc Uí Chaoimh and Church Road, with vehicle access for residents and businesses only, and a removable barrier system has been implemented.
Oliver Plunkett St, which had been opened to traffic for a period of time during the lockdown, will also go back to being pedestrianised.
There are also plans afoot to pedestrianise Tuckey St, Paul St, and Pembroke St.
Cork City Council chief executive Ann Doherty told The Echo that having discussed the plans with elected members, it was agreed that temporary changes would be made to those streets, but there is no exact date for implementation.
“Obviously, in any environment, we would prefer to have a much wider consultation process, but there is this balance at the moment about trying to achieve something and the consultation,” she said.
“The first piece was the Marina — getting our existing or established pedestrianised areas back up and running, and then in the next couple of weeks looking at putting those (additional streets) in. It’s linked to the phases of the Government’s roadmap.
“It is around the return of people to the city centre.
"It’s the return of business, the volume of people. We will work very quickly over the next couple of weeks.”
She clarified that any more permanent pedestrianisation measures or street closures would require wider consultation.
“For anything more permanent, there is a process which we have to go through which involves public notices, advertising, engagement, and then decisions can be made.
“We’re trying to implement measures on a temporary basis in order to see how they will work and also if there will be any unintentional consequences.
“In terms of the Marina, I know people have asked for this for years, but we also have to be mindful that in anything we do there may be an unintentional consequence — that’s why we’re doing it on this temporary basis,” she said, adding that she is delighted that collectively this point has been reached in terms of its pedestrianisation.
Regarding the other three streets that are set to be pedestrianised, they will follow the council’s already existing systems for pedestrianisation.
“We have established systems that work for deliveries and we can’t ignore them. Every area you look at has different, unique things that affect it in terms of the types of business, when they operate, how they operate, how they get their merchandise in and out,” said Ms Doherty.
To that end, Cork City Council has a tried-and-tested policy of an 11am to 5pm pedestrianisation plan in place which works on other streets in the city, and the same will apply to Tuckey St, Paul St, and Pembroke St when the new measures are implemented.
City Hall is working through a City Centre Partnership which involves a number of stakeholders including businesses, restaurants, vintners, community representatives, transport organisations, elected members, and many more.
The streets are being taken on a case-by-case basis when it comes to these new measures.
Ms Doherty added that all of the decisions made will essentially be led by the businesses on each street, but must also include input from the Gardaí and emergency services.
“To me, this has to be led by the people who are on the street, running their businesses, because they’re the ones who will have to make it work,” she said.
“This virus is going to be with us for a long time, so therefore we have to find a way as citizens collectively to be able to respectfully coexist and avail of all the amenities in the city.”