The Greens in the government would expand the ban on smoking across the country, increase air surveillance in high-risk areas, and introduce an initiative to ban cars near schools by introducing temporary pedestrian zones.
The measures were announced at a press conference on Friday to explain the party’s air quality policy for the 2020 election.
Extending the ban would bring a number of health, environmental and economic benefits, estimated at EUR 53 million per year. In Ireland, it is estimated that four people die prematurely every day from illnesses caused by poor air quality.
“Given the scale of our air quality problems, the number of monitors is completely inadequate, especially where communities near key fossil fuel burning sites such as the M50 and Dublin Airport are at higher risk of air pollution,” he adds.
In the view of the candidates present, a significant increase in investment in public transport would be a central theme in all negotiations on the formation of the government.
Your air quality policy document was announced at one of the air quality blackspots in Dublin. the intersection of Pearse Street and Tara Street in the city center. A nearby EPA monitoring station indicates frequent violations of EU safety limits – especially for nitrogen oxides, which are mainly associated with traffic.
The party’s transport spokesman, Cllr Patrick Costello, said the danger of air pollution near schools is particularly high. He had recently conducted investigations in a constituency in Dublin South that showed a doubling of the nitrous oxide content during the term due to traffic.
“We have some extremely worrying data regarding the increase in air pollution from vehicles when they are idling,” he added.
Children had to run to school or ride bicycles more safely, while other studies indicated this. He advocated a ban on cars outside of schools.
Cllr David Healy, who is based in Dublin Bay North, said that the “school street concept” at St. Oliver Plunkett School in Malahide has been successfully tested to extend to the entire Fingal area. It was about exploring the street on foot when children come home in the morning and evening and noticeably improving the atmosphere outside.
Dublin Central Authority candidate Cllr Neasa Hourigan said EPA surveillance numbers were “fairly scary”, especially because of the vulnerability of young children to air pollution.
There were solutions that resulted from activities in some EU countries and advanced cities that invested in public transport, including the use of escooters and e-bikes.
“People don’t want to be in their cars, but public transportation must be accessible and affordable,” she added, while investment in active transportation – hiking and biking – had to be increased significantly.
She said congestion charges for Dublin should be considered, but many other measures – including a reinforced pedestrian area – could be implemented first.
Regarding the possibility of free public transport, Cllr Roderic O’Gorman, who represents the party in Dublin West, said that there was a capacity problem that would make such a move impossible, although he advocated free public transport for students and reduced prices.