Kissing Gates in Dublin: Access to Information on the Environment

In August 2021, I sent a request under the Access to Information on the Environment (AIE) Regulations to five public bodies:

  • Dublin City Council (DCC)
  • South Dublin County Council (SDCC)
  • Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Council (DLR)
  • Fingal County Council (FCC)
  • Office of Public Works (OPW)
  • Waterways Ireland (WI)

AIE Requests are similar in some ways to Freedom of Information (FOI) Requests, but there are crucial differences: while FOI exists under Irish legislation, AIE arises from EU legislation. Therefore, the Irish State is bound by EU obligations in respect of AIE; however, the government of the day can amend FOI legislation, as it has in the past and proposes to do so again. There are also differences in the public bodies which are covered by AIE and FOI, with more bodies subject to the AIE Regulations. On the other hand, FOI legislation may capture more kinds of records held by public bodies, above and beyond environmental information.

I sent the below request to each of the public bodies. The replies and responses I’ve received have been.. diverse.

I am making the following request under Access to Information on the Environment (AIE) Regulations.

Please provide information with details of all barriers/gates on pedestrian routes within the [Council/Dublin] area, including: on roads, paths, lanes, at any pedestrian entry and exit points to parks, and at any locations within within parks.

This requested information to be broken down by location and by type of barrier/gate – the requested information to include, but not be limited to:

– ‘Kissing gates’
– Swing gates
– Styles
– A-frames
All other barrier/gate types
– All locations of such barriers/gates

I am requesting the above information be provided in electronic format.

Essentially, I want to find out where and how many kissing gates and other barriers there are within Dublin City and County. It seems such a simple request.

I plan on providing updates in respect of each public body’s response in separate posts here, which will be grouped together under the “kissing gates” tag.

Wish me luck.


A letter to Claire Byrne Live

I emailed the Claire Byrne Live programme this evening. They cannot say they did not know.

* * *

Date: 9 January 2017 at 20:22
Subject: URGENT: Claire Byrne Live 09/01/2017
To: clairebyrnelive@rte.ie

Dear all,

I understand that tonight’s Claire Byrne Live (Monday, 9th January 2017) is to include Nicholas Pell among the speakers on the programme. Presumably, this will relate to a discussion on far-right extremism or similar.

I am urgently calling on the Claire Byrne Live team not to run with this item. As broadcasters, you have an ethical, moral and legal duty not to engage in such dangerous acts.

The right to freedom of expression is not absolute. It is limited. These restrictions are found in international treaties, such as the ICCPR and ECHR, and were included as a direct response to the events which led to the violent atrocities of the Second World War. Per ICCPR Article 19:

The exercise of the rights provided for in […] this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:

(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;
(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.


These principles inform the Prohibition on Incitement to Hatred Act, 1989, as well as the provisions of the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill 2016. And they are found in the Broadcasting Act 2009, Section 39(1)(d):

39.— (1) Every broadcaster shall ensure that—

(d) anything which may reasonably be regarded as causing harm or offence, or as being likely to promote, or incite to, crime or as tending to undermine the authority of the State, is not broadcast by the broadcaster


Mr Pell is an avowed far-right extremist. This is publicly known, and he does not deny it. These are precisely the circumstances envisaged by the drafters of the exemptions to freedom of expression in the aftermath of World War II.

As Franz Frison, an Irish survivor of Holocaust, wrote in a letter to The Irish Times on 12 December 1988:

Having experienced fascism in the flesh […] If fascism could be defeated in debate, I assure you that it would never have happened, neither in Germany, nor in Italy, nor anywhere else. Those who recognised its threat at the time and tried to stop it were, I assume, also called “a mob”. Regrettably, too many “fair-minded people” didn’t try to stop it, and, as I witnessed myself during the war, accommodated themselves with it when it took over.


People who witnessed fascism at its height are dying out, but the ideology is still there, and its apologists are working hard at a comeback. Past experience should teach us that fascism must be stopped before it takes hold again of too many minds, and becomes useful once again to some powerful interests […].


I campaigned for marriage equality in 2015. Though the outcome was that which we sought, our volunteers experienced sneers, insults, and physicial assaults – some so severe that the Gardaí investigated. I recall that during Germany’s Weimar Republic, a nascent movement for decriminalisation of homosexuality had begun. Just a few years later, these people were being sent to their deaths in concentration camps by the Nazis.

This is not a game. You who are now reading this email may not realise the real danger of proceeding with tonight’s programme and this item, including Mr Pell. However, there are many amongst your colleagues and viewers who do.

I urge you to accede to my request.

Yours sincerely,

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail: Ireland’s marriage referendum


Yesterday, the day after Leo Varadkar’s coming out, the first shots of Ireland’s marriage referendum campaign were fired.

What the day’s discussions across national radio and television revealed – to me, at least – is that the Yes campaign is wholly unprepared and has been outmanoeuvred at the outset.

Although there are four months of this to go, the initial skirmish has undeniably been won by the No advocates.

The debates yesterday demonstrated that the No side has, as in other debates in the past, mastered the three key elements needed for success:

  • Political opportunity
  • Framing
  • Mobilisation

    Already, the Yes advocates are on the back foot. This seemed apparent to me in the morning, listening to Newstalk FM.

    By midnight, it was absolutely beyond doubt, in my view, that Monday, 19th January 2015 saw a resounding victory for the No campaign – before the campaign has even begun.

    Here’s how I think they achieved that.