The chief executive of Dublin City Council has been come under fire after after saying he would like to cut down every roadside tree in the city to stop people who trip over their roots from suing the authority.
The Irish capital is home to some 60,000 trees alongside its streets and roads, with an average of 5,000 planted by the council every year.
However, the man at the top of the authority, chief executive Owen Keegan, has said he would happily remove them all to cut down on the amount of personal injury claims lodged against the council.
He told Ireland’s Business Post “Personally I would cut every roadside tree. I’d just cut them down because people keep tripping over them.
“A lot of the trees planted here many years ago are totally inappropriate for the current liability environment, the roots grow very rapidly, they come up and crack the pavement and cause trip hazards but no one deals with it.”
Understanding there would be “uproar” if such a policy was implemented, he added: “People want trees and yet if there is any adverse outcome as a consequence of trees they want to be able to claim. It is a real difficulty.”
His comments were quickly criticised by councillors – who pointed out the city has already pledged to plant more trees by 2024.
Referencing the Dublin agreement, the council’s statement of intent which includes the planting of 100,000 trees over the next five years, city Councillor Donna Cooney said: “We will protect our 60,000 plus roadside trees and plant 100,000 more - pavements can be fixed without axing trees.
Adding that such a policy would be implemented “over our dead bodies”, she wrote: “Thankfully Dubliners have emotional attachment to trees”.
Green party councillor for Cork and former senator Dan Boyle added that it was a “horrible attitude but [an] oddly honest sentiment that I believe is held by every local authority chief executive in Ireland”.
His comments come as the council looks to increase a number of public levies, including road tolls and social housing rent, to meet the council’s ballooning budget.
Among the costs to be covered is an additional €11.6m for insurance. The authority is currently paying down €46m in historic claims for personal injuries.
The Independent has reached out to Dublin City Council for comment.
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