Were the Phoenix Park gates reopened based on just 6 emails?

Thu, Aug 27, 2020

Read in 4 minutes

Speaking today, on foot of the recent release of a number of Freedom of Information requests, Neasa Hourigan, Finance Spokesperson for the Green Party, expressed her disappointment at the lack of any clear data supporting the reopening of the Phoenix Park gates on the 9th of July

Were the Phoenix Park gates reopened based on just 6 emails?

Deputy Hourigan, TD for Dublin Central said:

Minister Patrick O’Donovan claimed that the gates were reopened based on the volume of traffic that had built up in the adjoining areas. Data supporting this claim has never been produced by the Minister.

Based on responses to Freedom of Information requests from Ken Foxe and Neasa Hourigan, publications from the OPW and Minister Patrick O’Donovan’s diary it is clear that:

Could six emails from Jack Chamber’s constituents sent to Minister Patrick O’Donovan on the 8th of July really have been enough to reopen the gates?

I look forward to the Public Consultation in September on Traffic in the Park promised by Minister Patrick O’Donovan and hope that the process will be a logical, data based process.

Chronology of Events

24th June - Chief Parks Superintendent at the OPW said in an email on Traffic in the park [1]

26th July - OPW responded to a query from Leo Varadkar about whether the OPW had received complaints on the gate closures and the nature of any complaints. The OPW’s response contained the following: “The responses in relation to these measures have been overwhelmingly in favour of them.” [2]

30th June - Minutes for a meeting between the OPW and DCC reflect that “DCC have received some observations but not many. They are happy with the traffic light sequencing at Castleknock & Parkgate St Entrances on weekdays and weekends” [3]

6th July - The OPW said that the arrangement whereby cars could access the park through Castleknock and Parkgate Street would be maintained. [4]

8th July - The OPW were asked by Jack Chamber’s private secretary for a response on six constituent queries related to the closure of the gates. [5]

9th July - Before 2pm, Patrick O’Donovan, Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works, made the decision to reopen the gates [6]

9th July - Minister Patrick O’Donovan requested a briefing note on the gate reopening to include “any current info on traffic volumes” [7]

10th July - Minister Patrick O’Donovan said on a radio interview that the closure was due to “the volume of traffic that has been built up in the adjoining areas has gone up a lot and that the OPW were very conscious of this” [8]


[1] Ken Foxe FOI request, page 30

[2] Fen Foxe FOI request, page 33

[3] Ken Foxe FOI request, page 39

[4] https://www.gov.ie/en/news/2277b-opw-encourages-pedestrians-and-cyclists-to-enjoy-the-natural-landscape-of-the-park/

[5] Ken Foxe FIO request, page 6

[6] Ken Foxe FIO request, page 12

[7] Ken Fox FOI request, page 13

[8] Sarah McInerney radio Interview with Neasa Hourigan, Green Party TD Dublin Central &

Patrick O’Donovan, Minister of State at the OPW


Image credit