Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2 in 1890 (left) and as it is today
“The forecourt outside Leinster House was removed in favour of car parking in 1948, at a time when it was believed that the private car was the future of urban transportation. For reasons of both public health and climate action, we now accept that there is an urgent need to move towards greater use of sustainable modes of transport.
“This will require significant behaviour changes for many in our society and is a major challenge. We commend the legislative work of the Climate Bill but it is not enough for you to pass bills to encourage these changes. We need you, as our representatives, to also embody them. We need you to lead by example.
“The grounds of Leinster House are small; a drop in the ocean in tackling climate change or our public health problems, but they are symbolically large. In the coming years many of you will stand on the plinth to expound the need for action and for change. How much more effective will those messages be, if they are delivered in front of a symbol of your commitment to a sustainable future? How effective will those messages be, if they continue to be delivered in front of your own private city-centre car park?
“Our public spaces matter, and few matter more than Leinster House. We urge you to take up this change; push for a restoration of the Leinster House garden on Kildare Street, and show that talk of a healthier, more sustainable post-pandemic future is backed by deeds as well as words.”
Extract of a letter sent today to the Oireachtas Health and Environment and Climate Action Committee from Advocacy groups, architects and academics.
Signatories include Irish Doctors for the Environment, Irish Pedestrian Network, Dublin Cycling Campaign, Friends of the Earth, Irish Architects Declare, Irish Georgian Society, ‘as well as dozens of individual signatories from various fields in academia, health, architecture, journalism and environmentalism’.