Councillors under pressure to suspend Patrick Street car ban

Councillors under pressure to suspend Patrick Street car ban
Pedestrians on St. Patrick's St. Picture: Denis Minihane.

CORK city councillors will come under pressure to suspend the Patrick Street car ban this evening as they hold a special meeting to discuss the ongoing issue.

Lawrence Owens, of the Cork Business Association, said traders would pack the public gallery and “await with interest the determination of the Council”.

The new traffic restrictions ban private cars from Patrick Street from 3pm to 6.30pm. Picture: Denis Minihane.
The new traffic restrictions ban private cars from Patrick Street from 3pm to 6.30pm. Picture: Denis Minihane.

“The fact that the meeting has been brought forward to Friday shows they are cognisant of the concerns of traders,” Mr Owens said.

“We have heard some of the councillors say they are in favour of it being suspended and deferred for the time being and we would hope that would be the outcome from the full council.”

The special sitting of the council was called after council party leaders and whips met members of the executive on Thursday afternoon, in a meeting that was chaired by the Lord Mayor, Tony Fitzgerald, and lasted more than two hours. CEO Ann Doherty and Director of Services, Paul Moynihan, were both in attendance.

A section of the large attendance at the meeting organised by the Cork Business Association (CBA) to discuss the traffic restrictions on St Patrick's Street, at the Imperial Hotel. Picture: David Keane. 
A section of the large attendance at the meeting organised by the Cork Business Association (CBA) to discuss the traffic restrictions on St Patrick's Street, at the Imperial Hotel. Picture: David Keane. 

While attendees at yesterday’s meeting would not confirm if they intended to suspend the service, they said they were listening to the concerns of the traders.

“I think everyone would admit, both managers and councillors, this wasn’t rolled out in an appropriate manner,” Fine Gael councillor Des Cahill told the Evening Echo.

“That needs to be addressed and if it needs to be pulled back and started again at a later stage, that might be the outcome.” Any decision to suspend or end the ban will need the support of the Council as a whole.

Mr Cahill said the consequences of abandoning the ban would also need to be addressed. It was seen as an important early part of the city centre strategy and Fianna Fáil councillor Terry Shannon said any change would impact the plan as a whole.

Pedestrians on St. Patrick's St shortly after 4pm. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Pedestrians on St. Patrick's St shortly after 4pm. Picture: Denis Minihane.

“If it is a short suspension to review and talk to traders about the positives, then fair enough," he said. "But if we were to take a decision to suspend and end it, then the whole movement strategy is null and void. We have been allocated €21m from public money but we could lose that money. And not alone that, the prestige of the city will be in question. If we can’t implement a traffic strategy for a 100 yards down Patrick Street we might as well pack up shop.

"But we are not deaf and we are not blind, we are listening to the traders."

Close to 200 city centre traders gathered on Wednesday night to express their frustration with the ban, which prevents private cars using Patrick Street between 3pm and 6.30pm daily. Businesses reported significant drops in turnover since the initiative began three weeks ago and they called for its immediate reversal.

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