Clamping of vehicles belonging to hospital staff working in Dublin city will resume at the end of this month, Dublin City Council chief executive Owen Keegan has said.
Since March, hospital workers have been exempt from paying parking charges when they use on-street parking in the vicinity of a hospital or health centre.
Staff who displayed a copy of an ID card or a note on hospital or GP practice letterhead paper would not be clamped by the council’s parking enforcement services. The council said at the time it was taking this approach in line with Government requirements to assist healthcare workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
However, Mr Keegan said the measure would be discontinued.
“It has been decided, with considerable regret, that the enforcement concession in respect of HSE staff parking in the vicinity of hospitals cannot be sustained,” he said in a letter to councillors.
“A decision has now been made that the concession will end on August 31st, after which a full parking enforcement service will operate in the vicinity of hospitals.”
The parking concession was “always intended to be a temporary measure”, Mr Keegan said.
“At the time it was introduced it was not a major issue in the various locations where it applied, as there was limited demand for on-street parking. However, with the resumption in economic activity there has been a significant recovery in traffic volumes and in on-street parking demand,” he said.
“This has led to a situation where residents with residents’ parking permits, living in the vicinity of major hospitals, cannot access on-street parking at or close to their homes at certain times.”
Mr Keegan has written to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, and other representative groups and public representatives to advise of the change. Independent councillor Mannix Flynn said the decision was "simply appalling".
“We are still in the thick of this pandemic and these essential workers are still putting their necks on the line. To throw them back on the heap now is disgraceful and insulting.”
Mr Flynn said essential workers should be issued with a tag or permit that could be easily identified by parking enforcers.
Separately, an online meeting about the future of the Phoenix Park hosted by the Dublin Cycling Campaign has heard that access to the park does not need to mean a “free-for-all” for cars.
The meeting follows the decision of newly appointed Minister of State for the Office of Public Work Patrick O’Donovan to reopen all gates of the park to cars.
Local Independent councillor Cieran Perry told the meeting senior citizens and people with disabilities would be reassured and willing to accept car restrictions in the park if there was public transport.
Labour Senator Marie Sherlock said online groups had tried to pit cyclist and disability advocacy groups against each other in their own campaign to keep cars in the park.
Green Party councillor Janet Horner said many of the issues residents living near the park had when the gates were closed related to people parking outside the gates and blocking footpaths. “We need not to assume that ‘car access’ is synonymous with ‘access’ to the park,” she said.
Green Party MEP Ciaran Cuffe said there were engineering solutions to the problem that did not have to mean a “free-for-all” for cars.
Several disability campaigners said car use was not the preferred solution for all mobility issues.