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The Irish Times view on Diageo’s objections to Dublin’s transport plan: Guinness not travelling well

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Diageo has every right to make its case against the restrictions the new Dublin traffic plan would have on its operations, and specifically its inability to send its Guinness lorries to and from Dublin Port via the quays. The plan would also disrupt deliveries to licensed premises in the capital.

That said, it is surely gilding the lily more than a little by referring to this “historic” route and pleading the cultural importance of its deliveries to the capital city. The brewer has indeed been a long and valued employer in the city, but the traffic plan has been a long time in gestation and the company must have realised that its ability to move the lorries up and down the quays was likely to come into question, sooner or later.

The transport of Guinness from St James’s Gate has a long history. For many years it was undertaken by barges; the last fleet was named after various Dublin suburbs. They brought the stout to Guinness boats moored lower down the Liffey, on timetables dictated by the tides due to the need to fit under the bridges. The boats then served English ports, from where Guinness was distributed around Britain and bottled for export further afield.

The “empties” were returned to Dublin and ferried up to St James’s Gate by the barges, on their return journeys. It was, perhaps, a small example of what we call today ” the circular economy.” The last barge sailed up the Liffey on midsummer’s day 1961, though by then much of the work previously undertaken by the fleet was already done by trucks, while the opening of new breweries overseas had also had an impact.

It is part of the long and complex history of Guinness – now Diageo – in Dublin, a place where in the middle of the last century as many as 5,000 people were employed.

Dublin City Council will now engage with the company on its objections; on the face of it, there is no middle road here, so to speak. The trucks either go up and down the quays or they don’t. And at this stage the ugly, traffic-laden quays surely need a break.

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