Councillors seek reopening plan for Dublin lane recently closed due to anti-social behaviour

Proposal would see new lighting and murals and increased Garda patrols on Harbour Court

Dublin city councillors have requested a strategy for the reopening of Harbour Court, a city centre laneway recently closed due to drug use, antisocial behaviour and crime.

Councillors who last month voted in favour of the closure of the lane are now seeking a plan for it to be reopened with new lighting installed, a mural, Garda patrols, homeless outreach teams and an addiction helpline.

A proposal to close Harbour Court, an alley with entrances at Marlborough Street, Abbey Street Lower and Eden Quay near O’Connell Street, was agreed by councillors in early January. It was largely used as a pedestrian link from the quays to Abbey Street but had become unsafe, with assaults, drug use and dumping reported.

Councillors Christy Burke (Ind) and Janice Boylan (Sinn Féin) have called on council officials to put in place a plan “as soon as possible” to reopen the lane. This would involve the council installing public lighting “to brighten the space” and contracting an artist to “paint suitable murals” on its walls.


Senior Garda management would be asked to tackle the antisocial behaviour with “day and night foot patrols”, the councillors said.

The HSE would be asked to put in place a helpline and a plan for “people in active addiction who frequent the area”. Homeless outreach teams would be asked to provide beds for homeless people locally.

The council and the Government were asked to agree to funding for the proposals while “locals and businesses are encouraged to get on board with these proposals”, the two councillors said.

While several local representatives told a council meeting on Tuesday said that they would support the proposals, Independent Nial Ring said he would not.

“I can’t support that, it flies in the face of the democratic process we have gone through here,” he said. “That’s a horrible lane. You’re admitting that people in active drug use were there and that it’s just going to become that again.”

Ms Boylan said there had been criticism last month that councillors had proposed nothing to improve the lane and keep it open.

“We have taken the time to put a plan in place and hold those responsible for the laneway to account,” she said. “Myself and Christy are working for the needs of the area and the needs of the people who were affected by the closure.”

She said that others were “screaming the loudest while not having any plan in place”.

Just to be absolutely clear, the decision was made to extinguish the public right of way. That decision was made and stands

—  Frank Lambe

Green Party councillor Janet Horner said she greatly welcomed the proposal. “It’s great to see we have a slightly more shared idea of what the future of Harbour Court could look like. Now, what would be great is if we could have agreement in the council chamber that public space belongs to the city, belongs to the people, and we shouldn’t be moving to shut it down.”

Fine Gael councillor Ray McAdam said it was “too soon” to consider reopening Harbour Court.

“I couldn’t possibly support the motion until we have a time where the city council has engaged with all the other stakeholders to see if [the proposals] are practical and if they will actually have an impact to change what is effectively 30 to 40 years of problems on this laneway.”

Independent Cieran Perry said he had reluctantly supported the closure of the lane. “I will support this motion, no harm to look at the issues and ask the officials to look at some better prospect than closing. I think it’s a very positive motion.”

Frank Lambe, the council’s city centre manager, said the local authority would work with the organisations identified by the councillors. However, he said: “Just to be absolutely clear, the decision was made to extinguish the public right of way. That decision was made and stands.”

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Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times