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Dublin: 3 °C Friday 17 January, 2020
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Protesters confront councillors after vote on O'Devaney Gardens redevelopment

Developer Bartra Capital has been contracted to build 768 housing units on the site.

GARDAÍ ESCORTED A number of councillors out of Dublin City Hall yesterday evening as protesters confronted them about a vote to approve plans for the redevelopment of O’Devaney Gardens.

Developer Bartra Capital has been contracted to build 768 housing units – both apartments and houses – on the site.

There has been criticism of the plan to include private housing in the development and last week Bartra told councillors it was prepared to change some of the units that were intended for private housing to ‘affordable rental’ instead.

At a Dublin City Council meeting yesterday, protesters stormed the council chamber just ahead of the vote on the plan:

Councillors voted by 38 votes to 19 to approve the plans. 

Originally, 50% of the scheme – 411 – units – were earmarked for private housing, with 30% social housing and 20% ‘affordable housing’.

Yesterday councillors said they had secured ” a commitment” that in addition to the social housing and ‘affordable purchase’ units, a further 30% of the total will be purchased from the developer and offered as ‘affordable rental’. 

They said the maximum affordable purchase price would be €310,000 and councillors were told the rent on affordable rental properties is expected to be in the region of €1,300 a month. 

Dublin Central Housing Action said there was a “big effort outside [City Hall] trying to stop it, but it wasn’t enough”. 

“Affordable housing at 300k is about as drastic as a contradiction in terms gets”.

A number of councillors were confronted by protesters as they left City Hall yesterday evening, including Social Democrats councillor Gary Gannon. 

“The decision we took last night has probably kept a lot of us awake for many nights in the last few months,” he told TheJournal.ie.

When it came down to it, looking at the calculations, it means there’ll be 659 homes for people to live in. I wasn’t willing to turn that down. 
We were followed for about ten minutes afterwards and we got a garda escort but to be honest I don’t mind that. I’ve no particular issue with it. I appreciate that we took a decision and we need to be held to account for it.

Gannon said the “alternative was nothing” and that the government had made it clear that the Department of Housing was likely to use a compulsory purchase order and develop it itself with a majority of private housing if this proposal was not given the green light. 

“People were asking us to think of all the people who were homeless and that was all we were thinking about,” he said. “There will be 247 social housing units on line in the next four years, that was the only consideration we were making. 

“There comes a tipping point when you have to ask yourself what you’re going to prioritise.”

Fine Gael councillor described the protest inside the chamber in City Hall as “disgraceful scenes designed to undermine legitimate democracy”. 

Gardaí confirmed they attended a peaceful protest taking place at City Hall involving around 30 people yesterday evening.

Councillor Cieran Perry, who voted against the plans, said he was “sad to hear the excuses for supporting the giveaway” of the O’Devaney lands.

“Affordable rental that isn’t affordable, affordable purchase that isn’t affordable…pathetic. You’re lining the pockets of developers at the expense of ordinary people.”

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