OPW reverses Phoenix Park gate opening plan
‘I think there is a strong case to keep the perimeter gates closed in perpetuity’
The OPW has decided to delay the reopening of perimeter gates into Phoenix Park until June 29th and will be keeping this under review. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
The gates of Dublin’s Phoenix Park, which have been closed since March in response to coronavirus travel restrictions, will not be reopened on Monday as planned, the Office of Public Works (OPW) has said.
Following the introduction of the 2km travel restrictions the OPW closed the park gates to traffic with the exception of the Castleknock and Parkgate Street entrances.
These gates remained open to allow the continued use of Chesterfield Avenue as a through-road, and to maintain access for park residences, such as Áras an Uachtaráin and the US ambassador’s residence, as well as Garda Headquarters. However, all car parking in the park was banned.
In line with the Government’s roadmap for the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, the OPW reopened some car parks, including the facility beside the papal cross, on May 18th, but parking remain banned on Chesterfield Avenue with the hard shoulder instead converted into cycle lanes.
It had planned to reopen all the gates from 10am on June 8th, in line with phase two of the roadmap, but following consultation with the Garda has now decided to delay the reopening until June 29th and will be keeping this under review, a spokeswoman said.
In addition to the new cycle lanes on Chesterfield Avenue, the peripheral roads of the park have become heavily used by cyclists and walkers, particularly young families, since the gates were closed, and the side roads have largely remained free of traffic, even with the reopening of some of the car parks.
Green Party councillor Michael Pidgeon, who has campaigned against the use of the park as a throughway for traffic, said the decision was very welcome.
“It is fantastic news. It was very hard to see what need the reopening of the peripheral gates was serving. People who do need to access the park by car have still been able to do so over the last number of weeks, but having the peripheral gates closed has freed up those smaller roads for families and for kids learning to cycle, and keeping them closed is a reflection of how people are now using the park.”
Labour senator Marie Sherlock also welcomed the OPW decision and said it would allow space to be maintained for social distancing.
“We have a sustainable situation in the Phoenix Park right now where people who need to use cars do have access. It is an experiment that has worked and I think there is a strong case to keep the perimeter gates closed in perpetuity.”