Government chief whip Jack Chambers and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar forwarded angry letters from constituents who claimed a new 30 kilometre per hour speed limit in the Phoenix Park was damaging their car or forcing it to cut out altogether.
The representations were forwarded by local TDs to the Office of Public Works (OPW) amid controversy over the availability of parking at Dublin Zoo and the park.
In internal emails, OPW officials warned parking availability was likely to be an ongoing problem as the summer months arrived.
One email said: “The busier the season gets (and with two bank holiday weekends in the next month and a bit), this discussion will probably resurface.”
Emails also explained how motorists parked illegally throughout the park no matter how many warning signs the OPW put in place.
“Will review the signage as requested and organise additional signs,” said one message, “our experience in the past is that they are just ignored.”
In another exchange, the OPW said members of staff might be better avoiding talking about the parking issue on broadcast media.
An email said: “I don’t think it is in OPW’s best interest to debate this emotive issue on air at the moment.”
The OPW also said that much of the parking previously available on Chesterfield Avenue had never been available for zoo parking in the first place.
Chief Park Superintendent Margaret Gormley wrote: “The bulk of the parking spaces was utilised by commuters in the past and not available to Zoo patrons, particularly during the weekend.”
A spokeswoman for the OPW said recent changes in the Phoenix Park had made it a significantly safer space for pedestrian and cyclists.
A new valuation report for the site of a proposed super-prison at Thornton Hall said it sat on some of the most valuable agricultural land in Ireland.
The valuation put an estimated price of €6.5 million on the 164-acre property which was bought for almost €30 million in 2005 as part of plans for the relocation and subsequent redevelopment of the Mountjoy Prison campus in Dublin.
The Department of Justice said the revised valuation gave a fairer value for the property saying there was “significant demand for agricultural land in Dublin” and that a prior estimate of €2.7 million was too low.
The Defence Forces found out by accident that the Taoiseach’s department wanted to charter an aircraft to fly Micheal Martin to Paris because officials did not trust the government Learjet would be fit to fly.
Internal records detail how officials in the Taoiseach’s office insisted on hiring a €2,000-per-hour aircraft because of the “absolute necessity” of the Taoiseach’s attendance at meetings in Paris and London in early March.
They said the government’s ageing €8 million Learjet could be kept available on standby if it were functional at the time Mr Martin wanted to travel.
In an email to the Department of Defence, Assistant Secretary to the Government Dermot Woods wrote: “We cannot be in doubt as to his attendance and any of the commercial aviation options too significantly reduce the essential flexibility he will need to have in the limited time availability.
“Therefore, will you arrange please, as the primary option for the three-leg travel, to secure option 5 (Luxaviation Citation CJ3 for 6 passengers) for this occasion? If the Learjet were functional it could act as a back-up if needed.”
Records from the Department of Defence also describe how news of leasing an aircraft was met with “some surprise” in the Air Corps who had readied the Learjet and a crew for the mission.
They only found out about the plan after one of the companies asked to provide a quote for a charter plane rang them directly to inquire about using Baldonnel Airport.
An email to the department from a senior officer said: “You might confirm has your Department taken a decision to contract a civil aircraft for a [ministerial air transport] operation from Casement Aerodrome, without informing this Headquarters or Defence Forces Headquarter, or is this request from the operator a contingency?”
The Air Corps also warned that the charter company were mistaken in thinking flying a private plane into a military airport would be straightforward.
They said they had concerns about a civilian aircraft coming through Baldonnel, especially around the “security precautions” for such a flight.
The Air Corps also warned there would be other difficulties around the supply of fuel and handling without a formal contract in place.
An email from Colonel Dave Corcoran said: “At this point, as requested by you last week, I can confirm that our advice is 1 Operations Wing is ready and able to conduct the MATS operation. Both Learjet and CASA aircraft are serviceable and available for that purpose.
“Please urgently confirm the Department of Defence intentions in relation to this civil flight as soon as possible and whether we should continue to plan the operation ourselves or not?”
In response, officials in the department said they wanted to be able to present several options to the Taoiseach for his journey.
One email said: “Given that the Taoiseach has either been let down on a couple of occasions by the Service recently or it has not met his requirements in relation to length of journey … the consultants Altea were asked to obtain quotes from four companies identified through their research.”
The message added: “What we’re all trying to ensure here is that the Taoiseach does not get let down again and every option has to be explored.”
The authority responsible for running Dublin Airport repeatedly asked not to be hit with fines because of lengthy queues at the airport saying that it could compromise security.
In correspondence with the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR), DAA said their emphasis had to remain on safety, rather than waiting times.
And they said any over-emphasis on queuing times risked the potential for non-compliance with stringent EU rules on security.
In letters to CAR, the DAA wrote: “Our focus in security is to ensure that something does not get on an aircraft that shouldn’t, complying fully with all European and Irish regulations.
“While we do not want any passengers delayed coming through the screening process, our focus cannot prioritise this over passenger security and safety.”
Dublin Airport’s managing director Vincent Harrison added: “The re-introduction of fines increases the risk of focus being leaned too heavily on queue times, resulting in potential non-compliance with regulations.”
The DAA appealed for a ‘force majeure’ saying that the impact of Covid-19 had been so severe that there were no further reasonable steps they could take to improve waiting times.
A county council said there was an “inherent inconsistency” in having to make available video and audio recordings of development plan meetings claiming the Data Protection Commission had advised them not to release them.
Meath County Council said a decision made by the Information Commissioner that they must release the recordings was something they were “still trying to rationalise” in internal emails.
Officials said it was difficult to understand how “two arms of the state [can] provide very different advice on the same records”.
In an email to the Department of Public Expenditure, a local authority official said: “It is very difficult for a public body, such as this council, to navigate these choppy waters.”
Meath County Council were told late last year they had to release the recordings of the development plan meetings, which had caused considerable controversy among councillors.
The council had originally said release of the tapes would involve the disclosure of personal information, which would be in breach of GDPR, and had proposed deleting them.
However, the Information Commissioner disagreed and ordered their release in a decision with far-reaching implications for other local authorities and public bodies.
The case had originally been taken by FP Logue Solicitors on behalf of a number of councillors in co Meath.