Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 19 Nov 1986

Vol. 369 No. 12

Written Answers. - References to Capital City.


asked the Taoiseach if he has been made aware of the highly damaging and insulting references to our capital city attributed to him in the International Herald Tribune; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

I opened my remarks on Dublin at the Dublin Chamber of Commerce dinner by saying that we have got within the canals and within the two rivers, the Tolka and the Dodder, a lot of space available which could be used productively to house people, to house enterprises and to house facilities that would bring people back to the city. I said that I regretted the attitudes that existed 20 years ago, and which I thought some Government Ministers at that time shared, and were vocal about, that the inner city is a bad place for people to live, and that it was full of smoke and dirt. I expressed my satisfaction that this attitude had gone and had been reversed and that we all recognise now that we have got to use the inner city, and have got to make it a place where people can live in much larger numbers.

I pointed out that it was the policy of this Government that local authority housing for the foreseeable future be concentrated on the inner city area, and that so indeed should, as far as possible, be commercial development, although not industrial development. Though I recognised that there was room perhaps in some areas for further industrialisation, most had to be outside the immediate inner city area. I expressed my agreement with the desirability of establishing a convention centre to make Dublin a really vital area, and I said I thought that the Custom House dock area provided a nucleus for this. I hoped that the very generous incentives we had provided can attract a really worthwhile development there. It should, if possible, include a convention centre and a hotel. It should have private housing, not just public housing. And it should have other facilities.

I pointed out that there were indeed some buildings there which are very solidly constructed and which could be put to some good use, one of them having some architectural and historical interest: a major warehouse there which was very unusual, unique in fact, in its construction and I thought that we could establish there — though this was something yet to be decided by Government — certain museums that would attract people to the area. We wanted it to be an area which would have people there day and night. We must, therefore, have facilities that would bring people there at night. It should not comprise empty office blocks at night, making it an area where people would be afraid to go because nobody was around the place.

With regard to the quays, which the President of Dublin Chamber of Commerce had, I said, rightly referred to as "tatty": these could be an attraction and in the 21st century would be so. This would require much more architectural ingenuity and skill and imagination, and probably more money for building than in the past, because much of the architecture of the last 20 years in Dublin, has been less than distinguished and even some distinguished buildings were either of the wrong size or in the wrong place.

I went on to emphasise that the quays really were the focus of the city and that it would be wonderful if we could revitalise them so that they could form a real heart to the city, but a heart with warmth and with something to offer that would be really attractive and not just a "Lego" building, of the kind that we have seen so many of around our city. That meant of course, a higher level of spending on such buildings than we have been used to in the past. A lot of the buildings we have are poor in architectural quality because the architects had been told to build them cheaply, and we had now, in many ways, a pretty cheap city, which was tragic beside the heritage left to us by the 18th and early 19th century. When side by side, the contrast was appalling and we had a lot to do to put that right. It had to be done together by Government, corporation, authorities like the New Temporary Streets Commission, and the private sector in all its aspects.

I indicated that I believed that we could do this and that I believed we must to it. I trust that Deputies will find much to agree with in my remarks on this subject on this occasion of which I have given an accurate and complete account.