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The Waste Bin

Our offices are, almost, in Lower Bridge Street and I travel down Clanbrassil Street daily to get to them. It is an ironic occasion every morning for me to join the single lane of traffic traveling north on Patrick Street in front of St. Patrick’s cathedral. Until recently there were two lanes for the north-bound traffic; now, one is a dedicated bus lane.

In 1953, Dublin Corporation determined to ensure that traffic would not be hindered by narrow streets like Clanbrassil Street and Patrick Street. They should be widened, it felt. The Corporation persisted in this feeling from 1953 to 1989 when it finally built a “dual-carriageway” along [some of] Clanbrassil St. and on into Patrick Street.

The fact that the planned Compulsory Purchase Order, to implement this, undermined the values of the properties along the west side of Clanbrassil Street and Patrick Street, from 1953 onwards, is neither here nor there.

What is of moment is this: we no longer care about traffic, that is, the private motor car. We have changed our viewpoint. We cheerfully squeeze it daily into a narrow traffic lane in Patrick Street. That’s not the only change. Dublin Corporation is now Dublin City Council: it hasn’t gone away and it is still an institution of vision.

Currently, it has a vision for a waste incinerator in Ringsend. Perhaps we need such a thing. But will we always? Will we always think it a good thing to burn rubbish? To burn it within the city?

The answer is yes, because the operator of the proposed incinerator will compel us to do it, under the terms of a contract signed by it and Dublin City Council.

Peculiarly, the property rights in rubbish may be more easily defended than the property rights in buildings.