A capital suggestion

Moving government and parliamentary activity out of Dublin

Letters to the Editor. Illustration: Paul Scott

Sir, – Prof John Dillon (Letters, May 25th) suggests we follow Australia by moving government and parliamentary activity out of Dublin to a newly established capital.

One of the criteria that Canberra fulfilled in the search for a capital city was having a bracing climate, to ensure that politicians concentrate on their duties.

To foster the first official language, only a Gaeltacht location would be acceptable in Ireland. The 2022 census shows that Bunbeg in Gweedore has the highest proportion of daily Irish speakers, while year-round invigorating weather is guaranteed.

The lack of a decent road to Dublin may be a further advantage in selecting Bunbeg. – Yours, etc,

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Dr JOHN DOHERTY,

Gaoth Dobhair,

Co Dhún na nGall.

Sir, – John Dillon makes an interesting proposal that, given the need for 250,000 additional homes, and the lack of space in the Dublin area, the official capital could be redesignated to another town so helping to rebalance the population. I have another, perhaps complementary, suggestion: as well as sensitively refurbishing parts of Dublin, why not invest in a completely new town – not the sprawling ad hoc and under-serviced developers’ estates such as those on the outskirts of Dublin’s satellite towns like Greystones, but a cohesively planned Garden City (as originally envisioned by the English urban planner Ebenezer Howard).

The Garden City would not only have fully integrated services for employment, education, health, transport and so on but gardens, allotments and parks, all ringed by agricultural land for growing produce. Such a development would help to meet our desperate need for biodiversity, as well as keeping us in contact with nature. Wouldn’t investing in a visionary development like this be healthier and more efficient than randomly infilling every little space in the city and suburbs with concrete? – Yours, etc,

TRICIA CUSACK,

Greystones,

Co Wicklow.

Sir, – Prof Dillon is to be congratulated on his idea of the wholesale removal of “all governmental and parliamentary activity out of the Dublin area” . It’s an excellent suggestion with much to recommend it.

Firstly, it would alleviate a substantial climate issue affecting the city – all that hot air that’s so problematic in and around central Dublin; it is thought that it might have a much better chance of being cooled the nearer it gets either to the Shannon or travels north.

Secondly, I gather the Taoiseach has indeed been thinking for some time now of a possible “grand initiative” which came to him in the night recently, I’m told, along the lines of “exegi monumentum aere perennius”. Whether it’s correct to say it should be named Harrisville when built I cannot say, although I understand his idea is still awaiting Cabinet approval. – Yours, etc,

ALASTAIR CONAN,

Coulsdon,

London.

Sir, – I’m in agreement with John Dillon that a key solution to Ireland’s housing deficit and projected growth is to create a self-contained, new city. It could contain at least 50,000 housing units at the outset and be located, for the sake of discussion, to the west of Dublin.

To achieve this an all-powerful agency would need to be established with emergency powers. It shouldn’t have too much difficulty drawing up a framework plan covering space requirements, locations, timescales, funding, facilities and services, basic standards, procurement, etc. What would be much more difficult is mobilising and retaining long-term political support; pursuing its “public interest” operations; and resolving local and regional jealousies and opposition.

At the outset, the State would need to engage in massive land-buying and plan the provision of services. So as not to distract from ongoing construction activity, major EU developers would have to be engaged to work on a turnkey basis, using largely foreign labour accommodated on-site, with imported materials, while deploying the latest manufacturing technologies and working to the highest standards for design, greenness, labour, specifications, etc. This would be the State’s most ambitious investment which, even with the best will in the world, would take at least a decade to complete. However, in the absence of such a quantum leap, Ireland’s housing crisis will continue to be plagued by “sticking plaster” solutions, with shortages, affordability and commutes just getting worse and worse. – Yours, etc,

BRIAN FLANAGAN,

Blackrock,

Co Dublin.