Malahide pedestrianisation plan to go ahead despite stiff opposition

Fingal councillors vote in favour of plans after contentious debate

Divisive plans for a pedestrian shopping street dubbed north Dublin’s Temple Bar have been passed by local representatives, all but killing off any chances of a return to traffic.

New Street in the north county village of Malahide was partially closed to vehicles during the Covid-19 pandemic but ongoing efforts to make it permanent met with opposition.

Residents and business owners compiled a petition of over 2,000 signatures against its pedestrianisation.

At a meeting of Fingal County Council on Tuesday night, councillors voted to pass an upgrade plan following a lengthy, often contentious debate on the merits of pedestrianisation.


Concerns and criticisms included the threat of antisocial behaviour, damage to businesses and a lack of sufficient time for all 40 councillors to properly consider the detail.

Ultimately though, those in support of a potential “flagship” project to inspire others passed it by a margin of 22 votes to nine, with five abstentions.

“We are moving into a new way perhaps of using our towns than we have in the past,” county architect Fionnuala May said in advance of the vote.

“The model of the small town working where it was mainly retail-based where you have the butcher, the baker etc and everybody used it all the time is gone. And we have to think about how we are going to repurpose our towns and use them and keep them as successful so that that character can be retained in a new form and a new way but for the same people that always used it.”

The adopted public realm improvements will include a widening of footpaths and narrowing of traffic areas, with some limited access for morning deliveries and emergency services.

There will be new outdoor dining areas, an upgrade of surfaces, new cycle stands and street furniture. The removal of 11 existing trees will make way for 37 replacements. The plans received 204 written submissions and observations from a town with a population of about 16,000.

Although New Street is relatively small and not Malahide’s main thoroughfare, Tuesday’s proceedings quickly drew conflicting views from elected representatives.

Fine Gael councillor Aoibhinn Tormey, who acknowledged residents and business owners in the public gallery, said the “level of damage that this project has caused people is beyond belief”.

She branded it a waste of money and over-hyped, dismissing it as “an effort to become Fingal’s Temple Bar”.

Cllr Anne Graves, a Sinn Féin representative in Swords, said a number of questions still needed to be addressed, and suggested the move be kept to summer months.

“At this time of the year people are not using it apart from those partying at night time and the evidence of that early in the morning is quite apparent,” she said.

However, while Labour councillor Brian McDonagh said the issue had caused distress and conflict, he believed the vast majority of people who use New Street see it as a positive.

“Anybody who is serious about climate change and about trying to make space ... that is car free, this is the first time that we are being tested.”

Cllr Eoghan O’Brien told critics of a plan that simply addressed upgrades to an existing street lay out; “let’s not confuse the issue here about whether this is to approve the pedestrianization. New Street is pedestrianised.”

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Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times