While there is huge excitement in Cork for the long-awaited opening of the redeveloped Pairc Ui Chaoimh, residents living in the areas around the stadium have expressed concerns about possible issues with parking and congestion once the venue is officially reopened.
With the announcement of three Ed Sheeran concerts next summer as well two All Ireland Quarter finals due to take place in the coming weeks, locals say they are worried about “parking mayhem” such as was seen recently at Pairc Ui Rinn.
Problems with parking near Pairc Ui Rinn were highlighted after there was an unexpected turnout of 8,000 people to see the Cork minor hurlers take on Tipperary at the Stadium last week.
Residents of Ballinlough, Ballintemple, Boreenmanna Road, Well Road, Churchyard Lane and the surrounding areas were left furious over the way patrons of the match parked in the area.
“There was murder,” Fianna Fail Cork City South-East Councillor Terry Shannon said.
“People had parked on double yellow lines, in front of driveways, on corners and on lawns. People had parked willy-nilly, wherever they pleased. I received calls from residents who were furious, and rightly so. When one resident went to speak with someone who had parked in the area, to ask if they could move the car, they were told to f*** off. It’s absolutely unacceptable behaviour.”
Gardai said a substantial amount of parking tickets were issued on the night of the Minor match.
Although barriers are often used in the roads and housing estates that directly surround the stadium, there is no regular barrier system in place for the areas affected last week, said Cllr Shannon.
“Whatever happened (on the) night, there was an unexpected crowd. There’s no regular barrier in Cherry Court, usually, residents have to ask if they need one. A real concern for the residents is if there is an emergency. If there was an accident and emergency services couldn’t enter because of parking, there would be murder,” he warned.
“Irregular and indiscriminate parking in the area has to be stopped. Residents are prisoners, captives in their own homes during the matches. There is potential for a disaster here.”
Cllr Shannon raised the issue during the last meeting of the Community Fora.
"We've agreed to put together a group of residents to meet with the GAA within the next fortnight to ensure a Park and Ride is put into place."
Cllr Shannon has also raised the issue with the director of planning at Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
“One of the planning conditions for Pairc Ui Chaoimh is that a traffic management plan is put in place. Up to 45,000 people at expected at these matches and it's in everyone's interest that this planning condition will be imposed. For the areas to go into lock-down isn’t acceptable.”
A Park-and-Ride system is expected to be put in place during big events at the stadium, he added.
Meanwhile, Labour Local Area Representative Peter Horgan has called for a comprehensive traffic management plan for the Blackrock and Ballintemple area ahead of three Ed Sheeran concerts next May.
“What we need to see now is movement from the authorities to implement a comprehensive traffic management plan for the entire suburb, not just the immediate residential estates to Pairc Ui Chaoimh,” he said.
"We cannot wait until next April to see some sort of plan. All agencies involved must come together in the next number of weeks and start engaging with residents in Blackrock, Mahon, Ballintemple and Ballinlough to ensure that their quality of life is not at a disadvantage during and after these concerts."
"This is an opportunity for the authorities, hopefully led by City Hall, to show they have the concerns and welfare of all residents in the vicinity of Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Such a long-term plan for such a large-scale three-day event needs public confidence."