human rights

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.


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.


    The problem with Clare Daly’s proposal on bodily integrity


    I saw this on Twitter this morning:


    Clare Daly TD proposal tweet 400x313


    The proposal by Clare Daly TD is to insert the following into Article 40 of the Constitution, replacing the existing Article 40.3.3°:

    The state acknowledges right of all citizens to personal autonomy and bodily integrity.

    Presumably the intention here is to remove the restrictions around abortion in Ireland, which many have argued have led to abortion effectively being exported abroad, most especially to England.

    This is the existing text of Article 40.3.3°, which was insterted following a referendum in 1983:

    The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.

    One of the problems with Daly’s proposal is that it is exclusive, affecting only “citizens.”

    This wording creates a category of individuals in the state whose right to personal autonomy and bodily integrity is recognised – citizens of Ireland – and a category of individuals whose right to personal autonomy and bodily integrity is not recognised – those who are not citizens of Ireland.

    One obvious consequence of this approach is that a situation such as the case of Miss Y from earlier this year remains unaddressed.

    Thus, a fundamental right that is made contingent on citizenship status is no right at all.