CITY officials have drawn up controversial plans to chop down up to 300 trees in one of the capital's most popular parks, the Herald has learned.
They believe that they should be removed to protect some of the other trees and give Merrion Square Park a facelift.
The Herald has seen provisional plans proposing that hundreds be taken down across the park.
A conservation management plan is due to be presented to city politicians during a meeting of the South East Area Committee next month.
The park is extremely popular with residents and is often visited by tourists.
In an event to mark Ireland's Presidency of the European Union earlier this year, visitors were invited to the park to place handkerchiefs on a tree in tribute to deceased or unwell loved ones.
The so-called Touring Tama, or "hanky tree" was displayed in the park for a period during the summer. But plans drawn up by officials could see many trees of its like chopped down.
A council spokesman refused to be drawn on the exact number up for the cut.
"Dublin City Council intends to prepare a conservation management plan for Merrion Square Park," he said. "It's planned to provide details on this to the November meeting of the South East Area Area Committee. No decisions have been made on the plan at this stage but further details will be available following the November meeting."
The news attracted mixed reactions from city representatives. Lord Mayor Oisin Quinn told the Herald that officials wanted to remove them for several reasons, among them to protect older tree species.
"There is in the region of 1,000 trees in the park, I understand," he said. "And a sizeable number will be removed in order to revitalise it.
"A lot of these trees are newer and it is felt that some of the older species need to be protected."
"There are safety issues as well. Parts of the park are quite dark as they are dense with trees, so the removal of some of them will improve (these) areas."
However, the Labour politician added that he had urged officials to ensure that a greater number of trees were planted than removed in the city.
But independent councillor Mannix Flynn said that he believed there would be a great deal of opposition to the removal of the trees from the popular venue.
"This park is an integral part of Dublin's southside," he added. "The trees give it a wonderful authenticity and I certainly believe that any plans to remove hundreds of them will be met with significant opposition.
"While tree removal is necessary, the scale of removal being mentioned here is nothing short of alarming."