State bodies clash over possible ‘destruction’ caused by St Stephen’s Green metro station

OPW says construction of Metrolink line ‘cannot be at the expense of Ireland’s national heritage’, while TII insists any impacts will be ‘mitigated’

supplied by Frank McDonald for oped on  MetroLink

The construction of the Metrolink line “cannot be at the expense of Ireland’s national heritage”, the Office of Public Works (OPW) has told An Bord Pleanála’s hearing on the €9.5 billion rail project.

The OPW is in conflict with State transport body Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) over plans for a metro station at St Stephen’s Green, which the OPW said involves “demolition or destruction” in the historic park.

The 18.8km line is planned to run from north of Swords to Dublin Airport, then on to Ballymun, Glasnevin, O’Connell Street and St Stephen’s Green before terminating at Charlemont, with 16 stations along the route.

The OPW had made 28 written submissions to An Bord Pleanála in relation to State-owned properties which could be affected by the construction of the line, such as the GPO, National Library, the Leinster House complex and St Stephen’s Green.


David Browne, senior counsel for the OPW, said there had been “positive and constructive engagement” with TII, and “conditions” had been agreed in relation to 27 properties. However, it had not been possible to reach agreement in relation to St Stephen’s Green, where the OPW “does not accept there will be no demolition or destruction”, he said.

A particular sticking point is the removal of 64 trees to accommodate a Metrolink station at the northeastern corner of the park close to the Shelbourne Hotel.

“The OPW believes proposed felling of trees is a significant loss of tree cover and could be construed as demolition of part of St Stephen’s Green,” Mr Browne said, which he noted was a national monument.

The OPW has also raised concerns about the planned relocation of the Wolfe Tone Monument and Famine Memorial in St Stephen’s Green, with both set to be moved further into the park to accommodate the station.

“The construction of the station as currently proposed will result in permanent changes to the architectural form of the green and increased hard landscaping,” Mr Browne said.

If An Bord Pleanála considered an alternative location for the station “was preferable from an environmental prospect, the OPW would welcome that”, Mr Browne said.

“While the OPW supports the objective of modern metro infrastructure in Dublin and the State, the OPW is also of the view the delivery of such infrastructure cannot be at the expense of Ireland’s national heritage.”

Senior counsel Declan McGrath, for TII, said it “does not accept the proposition that Metrolink works will result in demolition of St Stephen’s Green”.

The location of the St Stephen’s Green station had been the result of extensive assessments, he said, as had alternative locations, and the reasons “why those alternatives were not considered to be viable options” were fully examined, he said.

“TII is very conscious of the historical significance of St Stephen’s Green and its importance to the city of Dublin, and TII is committed to making every effort to mitigate the impacts on St Stephen’s Green,” he said.

  • See our new project Common Ground, Evolving Islands: Ireland & Britain
  • Sign up for push alerts and have the best news, analysis and comment delivered directly to your phone
  • Find The Irish Times on WhatsApp and stay up to date
  • Our In The News podcast is now published daily – Find the latest episode here
Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times