A Garda submission on a contentious greenway upgrade in Cork City has added further controversy to the project.
Green Party councillor Dan Boyle called for a review of the city’s public consultation process on Tuesday night, as senior gardaí pledged to identify the author of the submission which argues against routing the Lee to Sea greenway upgrade between Harty's Quay and Hop Island along the southern shores of the Douglas estuary, behind houses at Island View and St Gerard’s Place.
Even though the shoreline route was favoured by 75% of those who made submissions, city officials have opted to route the greenway in front of the houses along the Rochestown Road instead, and to upgrade the road to create space for the greenway.
Critics have branded that decision a mistake, and claimed the greenway upgrade has now become a roads project.
News of the Garda submission sparked controversy on social media on Tuesday and saw the Rochestown Area Residents and Business Association engage a solicitor who has written to gardaí seeking either an explanation for it, or for its withdrawal.
“Given the numerous issues arising with this submission it would appear that this particular submission, which seeks to influence a public consultation process, be publicly and formally withdrawn from the record,” solicitor Daithí Ó Donnabháin said in his correspondence.
“If the document was not submitted by a Garda of the rank of superintendent or higher, then our client calls upon An Garda Síochána to communicate this formally to Cork City Council and to publicly disassociate itself from this written submission.”
A senior Garda spokesman told the Irish Examiner that officers in the city were not aware that the submission had been made, and that they will identify the author to establish the sequence of events.
The submission said a group of residents who live along the waterfront had approached gardaí in Passage West to express their concerns about the shoreline option.
It said installing a boardwalk to the rear of these properties poses “an obvious and significant increase” in the risk of trespass to the person and their properties, with “the obvious risk of inviting undesirable and uninvited trespassers and anti-social gatherings to the rear of these homes”.
But in a statement on Tuesday night, Cork City Council said any concerns about the source of the Garda submission were a result of “a misunderstanding that has arisen via social media”.
It said it received an online submission from Passage West Garda Station and when council staff followed up on it, they "were promptly given a name by the local Garda station to formally accompany the submission.”
The council said in analysing the alternative routes, the council had to consider various factors.
“Issues such as how best to integrate the greenway into the Rochestown area, the quality of the future greenway, safety of the greenway users, security of adjoining residents, and various environmental concerns such as the possible impacts on the Cork Harbour Special Protection Area, heritage issues," it said.
"An upgrade of the existing route including the introduction of a planted segregation strip to separate the greenway from traffic was considered to be the best solution when all factors were considered."
This solution includes traffic calming and realignment of Rochestown Road, thereby providing a broader community gain in Rochestown Village.
Through very early engagement with the public, the project team was best able to take as much available information as possible from the public. This input followed by detailed surveying, environmental and engineering assessments was necessary to bring forward a preferred route.