Una Mullally: Phoenix Park plan latest effort to erase Dublin’s character

Our capital must not be sacrificed as a brand catering to tourists and transient visitors

The most obnoxious proposal for Phoenix Park is to build large carparks, no matter what kind of language you shroud it in. Photograph: James Forde

The most obnoxious proposal for Phoenix Park is to build large carparks, no matter what kind of language you shroud it in. Photograph: James Forde

In July 2018, the Phoenix Park in Dublin won a Gold Award at the International Large Urban Parks Awards. The other winner was the Centennial Park in Sydney, Australia. It must be doing something right. The roads and paths are well maintained, and rubbish is sparse. As the largest enclosed public park in a European capital, it provides a rare city setting for reflection, tranquillity and isolation. 

The Office of Public Works’ (OPW) strategic review of the Phoenix Park has received a lot of attention in recent weeks. The first objective in the plan is to review future tourism development potential, the second is to prepare a development plan for a visitor centre, the third to prepare a development plan for the Magazine Fort. “The great value of the Phoenix Park may be that it delivers fully on the brand promise of green spaces at the edge of the city”; “Enhancing the visitor experience,” we are told, “may help to spread the economic benefits of tourism within Dublin”; “It is the ambition of the Strategic Review to create new products and a visitor proposition aligned to the Dublin brand strategy.” Dublin is not a city now, it is a brand. The things in it are “products”.

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