Long-delayed MetroLink can get planning permission this year, Eamon Ryan insists

Minister for Transport defends controversial plans to eliminate ‘through’ traffic from Dublin city centre

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has said he believes the long-awaited Dublin MetroLink will be granted planning permission this year.

The €9.6 billion project, which will link Swords and Dublin Airport with the city centre, is due to be considered at An Bord Pleanála oral hearings from February 19th.

Jack Chambers, the Minister of State for transport, told the Sunday Times this week that “based on delays for other transport projects, it is unclear at what point the department will receive a decision on MetroLink”.

Speaking on Newstalk’s The Anton Savage Show, Mr Ryan said he remained confident that it would receive planning approval this year and be built by the early 2030s.


“Why would Jack say my confidence is misplaced?” Mr Ryan added. “I am confident. It has been in planning for 25 years. I was involved with the Dublin Transportation Office back in the 1990s when we first started working on this.

“I remember in 1999 it was done in terms of what we need and we said: ‘Let’s go and build it.’ In the 25 years since we made a mistake in that we did not build it.”

The Minister insisted that the MetroLink is “ready to go” and that plans were at a very advanced stage should An Bord Pleanála give it the go-ahead.

Mr Ryan also defended controversial plans to ban private “through” traffic from parts of Dublin city centre. The measures, outlined in the Dublin City Centre Transport Plan, would mean only public transport vehicles and cyclists could pass through Aston Quay and Bachelors Walk.

When it was suggested to him that the Government should build public-transport infrastructure before banning cars, he said six BusConnect corridors had already been opened and five would open presently.

“What you don’t want is those buses stuck in traffic. You don’t want people in the city centre dominated by cars. Look at Pearse Street, look at Tara Street, look at the quays. Is that working for anyone?” the Green Party leader said. “We need to revive Dublin city centre. We need to get people living and working in the city.”

Mr Ryan insisted that the cap on Dublin Airport passenger limits would not rise unless the aviation sector could demonstrate it would stay within its climate targets.

Airport operator DAA is seeking to increase the current cap of 32 million passengers to 40 million in line with projected growth in population and in passenger demand. The number of passengers permitted at Ireland’s main airport was capped at 32 million annually when planners approved the construction of a second terminal just over a decade ago.

DAA is to seek the increased cap as part of plans to be lodged next month to add new infrastructure to Dublin Airport. The Green Party has stated that increasing passenger numbers to that figure would see an increase of 22 per cent in emissions from the airport.

Mr Ryan said it was up to the aviation industry to provide more emission-friendly aircraft and the industry could not count itself out in relation to the climate challenge.

“Anything we do in aviation has to take climate into account. Aviation benefits our country. I fully understand the benefits of connectivity, not just in Dublin but also in balanced regional development.”

Mr Chambers last week said he fully supported the lifting of a passenger cap, arguing that the country could not have a policy of “de-growth”.

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Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times