31 March, 2008

Freedom for Tibet

A decent turnout of a couple of hundred people headed out from the Spire on O'Connell Street at lunchtime today, and paused at the European Commission Offices on Molesworth Street, and outside Dáil Éireann before heading up to the Department of Foreign Affairs on Stephen's Green.

I heard someone mention that there was only two dozen Tibetans living in Ireland, but clearly they had got the word out! The group was very mixed, with parents and children, but no great political or religious presence. Dean Robert MacCarthy from St. Patrick’s Cathedral was there and I told him I had met his colleague David Frazier up at Mosney last Friday. It was great to see the Church of Ireland involved with both asylum seekers and worthy causes abroad.

Dermot Ahern’s statement this morning said that he deplores the loss of life that has occurred in Tibet and neighbouring Provinces in China, and calls for maximum restraint on all sides and for the release of imprisoned peaceful protesters.

I wrote to Chinese Ambassador Liu Biwei today to express my grave concern at the treatment of protesters seeking recognition of Tibet, and stated that the treatment of protesters in recent days has cast a dark cloud over the preparations for this summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing.

It felt good to be out on the street again. We’ve all spent far too much time listening to the radio and reading the papers over the last few weeks.

Well done to the Tibetan Community in Ireland and Jampa Ling the Tibetan Buddhist Centre in Cavan for highlighting the outrageous crimes in Tibet.

20 March, 2008

Dún Laoghaire Baths Update

Well, that's a bit distracting.

There you are puttering along, hoping that the Council comes up with a decent plan for the Baths and suddenly a Coastal Amenity Project is unleashed. With an out of the ballpark price-tag of somewhere between €90 and €130 million it has a whiff of unreality about it. Plus, it doesn't even factor in putting the baths back!

It all goes back to a crucial decision made on 10 October 2005 by the Council. The Greens wanted to proceed with our proposal for a modest Baths on the site, but the ruling FG/Labour coalition in their wisdom decided to bring in the Consultants - Royal Haskoning, and they've gone to town. Events spaces, central plazas, beech gardens, 500 space car parks, lagoons; they've thrown the kitchen sink at it. Look, like most architects I've been to Barcelona and hugely enjoyed hanging out on the beach in Barceloneta but with respect, even with climate change factored in, Sandycove will still have a fairly chilly beachfront most of the year for the conceivable future. Large seafront windswept plazas in an Irish climate don't really do it for me.

I'm all for throwing a fair share of vision into the mix but let's get real and come up with a modest proposal to put back a public swimming baths, and maybe a kiddies pool and café on the site of the old Dún Laoghaire Baths. Maybe we could even heat the pool with solar power. The waterfront works quite well at the moment, and adaptable. It can take thousands of people for the Festival of World Cultures in August, or a few people walking the dog and jogging in November. I don't think it needs more mediterranean plazas.

Even if built incrementally, it still doesn't strike me as being suitable for Dún Laoghaire. So, sorry about that folks, but yet again, it's back to the drawing board. I'm told the proposal will probably be put on display in the County Hall over the next few weeks, so why not have a look and make your views known?