Donabate locals protest lack of pedestrian access at Newbridge DemesneGary Ibbotson 10 Mar 2022
Donabate locals held a protest in February calling on Fingal County Council to open up pedestrian access to the Newbridge Demesne on the Hearse Road.
Residents from Semple Woods, Donabate organised the protest in their bid to highlight the need for the provision of a pedestrian and cycle path through the site.
The installation of a pedestrian access-way was included as part of the planning permission granted for the Semple Woods development and is an objective in the Donabate Local Area Plan.
Protestors said that the purpose of the demonstration was to emphasise their safety concerns regarding accessing the demesne.
They say that the only to get to the estate is by a very narrow and dangerous footpath along a heavily congested Hearse Road.
Corina Johnston, a local Labour party representative who attended the protest, said: “I was very happy to support the Semple Woods residents in their peaceful protest walk against the delay in providing a pedestrian/cycle path into Newbridge Demesne from the Hearse Road.
“The Labour team of Duncan Smith TD, councillor Rob O’Donoghue and I have been pursuing this for some time now with Fingal County Council,” she said.
“In a recent response to councillor Rob O’Donoghue the council confirmed that it was considered premature to provide an entrance on the Hearse Road as there is not an official pedestrian path inside the park which would require 500m of wheelchair accessible footpath.
“The current route would continue to be the main entrance.”
Johnston says that the council’s response is “totally unacceptable.”
“It does not address the very serious health and safety risks associated with walking along this dangerous path which is not suitable for wheelchair users or double buggies.
“As a result many parents have no alternative other than walk on the dangerous road alongside their children,” she said.
Grainne Jordan, who was in attendance with her son Fionn, daughter Maggie and Fionn’s assistance dog Walter said that “the footpath wasn’t wide enough to accommodate Fionn, who has autism, and Walter without having to walk on the dangerous road.”
Another parent said that “the existing path is so narrow that it barely fits a double buggy.
“I have three small children, my eldest is only four years of age.
“She has to walk in front of or behind the buggy, out of my arms reach.
“It is extremely dangerous for her to walk along in this manner.
“A pathway, in this day and age, should have enough room to allow a child walk safely by their parents side.
“If I meet another parent with a buggy, one of us is forced to step out onto the busy road to pass each other out.
“Buses/trucks/cars are mere inches from the side of the buggy.
“For cars driving over the top of the hill, their vision is restricted which can lead to the driver being unable to see small children until the last second,” they said.
Roisín Connor, a wheelchair user, who also attended the protest with her mother said that under the current conditions the only way she access Newbridge Demesne was with a car.
“I can’t make it up the steep hill so I can’t even take my dog for a walk in the park,” she said.
“There needs to be access to the park for people with chronic illness or additional needs”
Johnston says that “many of the concerns” raised by residents have been made known to Fingal County Council.
“Given the turnout at the protest on a working day and the genuine concerns being highlighted I am calling on Fingal County Council to accept that there is a genuine health and safety issue to be addressed.
“This can be achieved by prioritising the provision of the proposed entrance into Newbridge Demesne on the Hearse Road.”