Green TDs chained to O'Connell Street trees

 

Green Party TDs yesterday chained themselves to trees in Dublin's O'Connell Street in an attempt to reverse the city council's decision to remove its trees. Mr Ciarán Cuffe said the party had been "inundated with calls from the public" urging the trees be saved and he described their planned removal as "criminal destruction of Dublin's heritage".

Twenty of 57 London Plane trees have already been removed to facilitate Luas works and the erection of the Millennium Spire. The council plans to remove the remaining trees as part of its O'Connell Street area plan.

Mr Cuffe said trees, which can live several hundred years, "had witnessed the 1916 Rising". Mr Cuffe, who is also a member of Dublin City Council,said he had tab led a motion to effect the preservation of the trees at the council last April, but as it was "sent for report" it was not passed by the full council and did not become policy.

However, the Green Party insisted yesterday that it was still possible to achieve the aims of the O'Connell Street plan and still retain the remaining trees.

The decision to remove them has also been questioned by the environmentalist and film-maker Éamon de Buitléir who said that unusually, up to 1,000 pied wagtails roosted in the branches. Mr de Buitléir told The Irish Times that in other cities, pied wagtails roosted on buildings but in Dublin they settled on the branches of 16 London Plane trees; this was so unusual he filmed them as part of his Ireland's Wild Countryside television series.

While he was in favour of the rejuvenation of O'Connell Street, Mr de Buitléir said he understood the remaining plane trees were being removed to position a crane to instal the spire monument and he questioned the necessity of this.

A spokeswoman for the city council said yesterday the space was required for the crane but added there were no "immediate plans" to remove remaining trees at the upper end of O'Connell Street. Their long-term removal is, however, envisaged by the area plan.