Liberties locals won’t lay tools down without a fight to save Weaver Square Gardens

Members of the Weaver Square Community Gardens (L-R: Trevor Keppel, Ivanna Chovgan, Samantha McCaffrey and Richard Stearn.) Credit: Sean Moore

Liberties locals have rallied together to battle a decision by Dublin City Council to replace Weaver Square Community Gardens and allotments with rapid-build social housing.

Members of the Weaver Square Gardens Community Group have said they will be locked out of the site by Dublin City Council from December 31st, despite written commitments to keep the area open.

Each allotment is rented to a group or individual through a short term licence. Weaver Square Gardens has been nurtured by individuals, families, and community groups for the past seven years.

Ivanna Chovgan manages the community garden in Weaver Square which is used  for therapeutic gardening to help people with mental health issues.

Hundreds of people have benefitted from the gardens according to Ivanna: “It’s not just a handful of people potting around in their allotments -there’s a ripple effect through past and current allotment holders, or those involved in the community garden.

“It’s intergenerational and intercultural with young, old and people from different backgrounds coming together.”

Local resident Trevor Keppel received his allotment in June after a two-year wait, only to receive a notice of eviction just three months later.  

He believes the decision by Dublin City Council is a short sighted trade-off: “It seems the council have decided you can have your affordable homes, on the condition you give up your green space.

“They should be looking at more liveable neighbourhoods but instead they’re going to remove gardens used not just by allotment holders, but by community groups and schools – it’s short sighted to lose them as a reaction to the housing crisis.

“We know there’s a need for affordable housing but all we’re getting in this area is student housing and hotels,” Trevor continued.

“Do we want our city to be a liveable place or do we want to cram a whole load of housing into particularly disadvantaged areas like this which have no green space?

“We just thinks it’s unfair and we’re going to fight it to the end,” he added.

Labour Councillor Rebecca Moynihan last week put forward a motion that no allotment-holder in Weaver Square should be moved until the council finds a suitable area nearby for them. Other councils backed the motion.

In a statement, Dublin City Council said they are attempting to source an alternative location in Dublin 8 for the allotment licensees using the site, “but it’s difficult to do so in an urban environment setting and it is also difficult to get the right balance between the urgent need for housing and the demand to retain open spaces such as this one.”

“There is a housing crisis in Dublin and we have to make best possible use of the limited land bank that we have,” it added.

Check out Luke Toomey’s video (via the link below) of Liberty locals talking about Weaver Square Gardens:

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