Monthly Archives: May 2009

Letter to Fingal Development Board about Howth Junction access

Arising from a report to the Fingal Development Board at its meeting today, I have written to relevant Board members and staff asking them to get involved with the problem at Howth Junction.

From: David Healy / Daithí Ó hÉalaithe
Date: Wed, May 13, 2009 at 3:46 PM
Subject: disability/accessiblity and access between Howth Junction Railway Station and Fás and Baldoyle Industrial Estate
To: Margaret Richardson,  Ciaran Byrne, PJ Howell , Eithne Mallin

Dear Margaret, PJ, Eithne, and Ciarán,

I refer to Margaret’s report to todays FDB meeting.

I note the first paragraph in relation to the statutory obligations on public sector organisations and the second paragraph on the responsibility of the CBD under Local Government Circular LG02/07.

I would like to draw your attention to a longstanding problem with Iarnród Éireann’s blocking of access from Howth Junction to Baldoyle Industrial Estate including the Fás training centre.

The story to date is documented at the following links on my website.

At the moment, a ruling from ABP and enforcement action from Dublin City Council are awaited.  I would hope FDB will engage with this problem created by a statutory body.



Accountability and Democracy revisited

In 2006, I brought forward a motion to have terms of reference for consultants brought to the Councillors before they were issued.  As frequently happens when Councillors seek to take a role in decision-making, the Manager went to Senior Counsel to get legal advice that this motion was illegal, legal advice which I think is completely ill-founded.  The matter was brought up at the Corporate Policy Group which in December 2006 decided as follows:

"It was AGREED to identify upcoming Contract and Briefs to Consultants and list them on Area Meeting Agenda."

So this month, I asked how many had been referred to the Area Cttees. The answer: None. >>>

11th May 2009

ITEM No.5 
Question: Councillor D. Healy

ask the Manager on how many instances have draft terms of reference for
consultants been brought before an Area Committee or a Strategic Policy
Committee of this Council since this matter was raised in October


There have been no instances of
draft terms of reference for consultants been brought before an Area
Committee or a Strategic Policy Committee of Fingal County Council
since October 2006.  However, it should be noted when Counsels advice
was sought in relation to the Strategic Environment Assessment on the
Greater Dublin Strategic Drainage Study Strategy, it was sent in the
name of the Mayor on behalf of the Councillors.

This arises from discussions around the appointment of consultants in general,
a function that is solely exercised by the Manager.  The Manager is
obliged to adhere to such guidelines as are issued by the Department of
Finance on procurement of consultants services.

Terms of
reference or briefs for appointment will follow the standards laid down
for the provision of such services which to the greater extent are
highly technical performance standards and ethical insofar as conflict
of interest etc will apply.


My my re-election leaflet as a candidate in the newly combined Howth Malahide ward is here.

My recent newsletter is here.

Access to Claremont Beach

The Department of the Marine has illegally blocked off access to Claremont Beach from the little road between the Scouts’ Quarterdeck and Ivan’s restaurant. I have been pushing for planning enforcement. You might be able to help.
I raised it at the Area Cttee. on 18th December 2008.  The Minutes read as follows:


It was proposed by Councillor D Healy, seconded by Councillor R Kelly:
"That the Manager report on planning enforcement action in relation to the blocking of the access to Claremont Beach from the West Pier."
The following report by the Manager was READ:
“The Planning Inspector has reported that a gate has been erected between Claremont Beach and the West Pier.   The erection of this gate would normally be considered as exempted development. However, Article 9 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 sets out restrictions on exempted development and provides that development is not exempt if it obstructs a public right-of-way.
The Harbourmaster has been written to and request to confirm whether a public right-of-way existed at the location and a response has been requested before Friday 19th December, 2008.”
Following discussion the report was NOTED.

I also pointed out that the exemption also does not apply to any fencing of an area habitually used by the public, which is this case at this location.

I didn’t hear anything back so I raised it again in March.  The minutes read:

19th March 2009


It was proposed by Councillor D Healy, seconded by Councillor R Kelly:
"That the Manager report on planning enforcement in relation to the blocking of access from the West Pier to Claremont beach."
The following report by the Manager was READ:
“Reports were received about the obstruction of an access from the West Pier to Claremont beach and a letter was issued to the Department of the Marine as these lands are in their ownership.
The Enforcement Section was contacted by the Harbourmaster of Howth who advised that the fence had been erected by him as a health and safety issue. He advised that a right-of-way did not exist over these lands but rather a desire line had been created by regular usage to the beach. He also advised that this access to the beach was over large and dangerous rocks and the Department of the Marine had been advised that they should close off this access to protect them from public liability claims.
Having regard to public safety, the public liability issue for the Department of the Marine and the availability of a Council maintained public right of way to Claremont Beach very close by, it is not considered that any further action should be taken in relation to this matter.”
Following discussion, the report was NOTED and it was AGREED that the Enforcement Section would make keep members advised of future developments.

In the discussion, I strongly criticised the proposal not to take enforcement action for reasons which have nothing to do with enforcement law and pointed out that the Department of the Marine’s response in fact confirms that the area has been habitually open to and used by the public.

Note that this is a consideration for whether or not development is exempted,  as the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 provide as follows:

9.       (1)      Development to which article 6 relates shall not be exempted development for the purposes of the Act—
(a)  if the carrying out of such development would –

(x)  consist of the fencing or enclosure of any land habitually open to or used by the public during the 10 years preceding such fencing or enclosure for recreational purposes or as a means of access to any seashore, mountain, lakeshore, riverbank or other place of natural beauty or recreational utility,
(xi) obstruct any public right of way,

I also pointed out that this is the only access from to the beach for horses which doesn’t involve a difficult passage over a steep slippery slipway. Noeleen McHugh from the Enforcement section committed to further investigation with aerial photographs as well and to gathering other evidence.  If you have used this access, it would be helpful if you could contact her (, 01 8905000) to say that you can give evidence of the use.

Arising from the discussion, I also put the following question down to the April Council meeting:



QUESTION:  Councillor D. Healy

“To ask the Manager what satellite imagery, aerial photography or similar data the Council has access to and can use for the purpose of planning enforcement and for what years it is available?”


Satellite imagery is available from 2004.  

The most recent digitised aerial photographs are from 2005 and photographs are available since 1995.  

Hard copies of aerial photographs are available from 1977 covering most of the County but some photos have been removed from the archive over the years.

In relation to the access along the side of the railway station, I have raised it at every opportunity.

I got an objective ("To maintain and protect the public amenity of the beach and improve public access to the beach.") included in the current County Development Plan.

The Area Cttee. agreed to my motion to direct the Manager "to bring forward a programme for improvement of Baltray/Claremont Beach including consideration of the following elements:
a)         quality access from Howth Harbour Area;
b)         quality surface of promenade;
c)         extension of promenade and linking to path to Claremont Road;
d)         attractive fencing to the dart line (maybe similar to the fencing along the new platform extension)."

I have also been pushing for the opening of a right-of-way between the beach and Claremont Road; this would be matched with a boardwalk from the end of the current promenade.

Related records of my work in relation to Claremont beach are noted on my website and in Council minutes:

Beach improvements needed as part of Howth Urban Centre Strategy and here.

Access to the Beach will be improved as part of traffic management for the area.

Interference with the access to the Beach by the extension to the Dart platforms and associated parking etc.

Maintenance and improvement plans for the beach.

Non-reply to my question about progress on the Claremont Road access.