Attended a great conference yesterday in Dublin Castle: Governance and the citizen, Dubliners and their City. Svend Auken (Former leader of the Danish Social Democrats and current party spokesperson on EU affairs) gave an excellent presentation re the Aarhus Convention - and Michael Ewing provided the summary of his research into adoption and compliance with Aarhus in Ireland. Conor Skehan (Head of Department of Environment and Planning, Dublin Institute of Technology) was very direct in his concerns that people are becoming over concerned with the appointment of a directly elected Mayor for Dublin – and that more correctly we need to understand Dublin and its hinterland). Gabriel Metcalfe (Executive Director, San Francisco Policy and Urban Research Association) explained the role played by his organisation, SPUR, in setting and driving the citizen led agenda in San Francisco.
My take on the day was that like in many things we find ourselves somewhat behind the curve. However as citizens we are not using all of the devices at our disposal to participate fully and effectively in setting the agenda for Dublin and its development. Yes it is very disappointing that we will be the last country in the EU to ratify Aarhus. And we have some nasty charges built into the system making it costly to pursue matters…and the legal route is scarey and too costly for almost all…but we are not using all the avenues available to us.
Congratulations to all those involved. David O’Gorman did a great job in giving us the opportunity, through the conference, to compare the Danish, the US (multiple cities) and the Irish experience. A real wake up call to citizens of Dublin.