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Future of O’Devaney Gardens still unclear

update on O’Devaney Gardens

One of the most controversial housing topics of the year, the future of O’Devaney Gardens, is still up in the air despite multiple votes regarding the use of the land.

In November, Dublin City Council voted to sell the land of the former Council flats to developers Bartra Capital, with the understanding that it would deliver 768 new homes – 411 private, 192 social and 165 affordable. 

However, many councillors and Dublin residents felt this deal wasn’t enough, with independent councillor John Lyons saying at the time the decision “further entrenches the Fine Gael model of housing delivery which is fully dependent on the private sector to deliver”. 

However, some did support the deal and felt the outrage was unwarranted. Fianna Fáil councillor Michael Watters fully supports the plans, and told the Liberty he was “attacked for having the cheek to build houses in a housing crisis. 

“Demonstrators are entitled to their opinions and even entitled to their anger, but they aren’t entitled to intimidate public servants who are trying to do their job,” Watters said. 

However, Sinn Féin, People Before Profit and a number of independent councillors signed a motion to rescind that vote because of what they said was “misinformation”, “unanswered questions” and “chaotic scenes in which the vote was conducted”.

People Before Profit councillor Tina MacVeigh said the land shouldn’t be sold to a private developer at all. 

“I think that the land should be used for public housing,” MacVeigh said. “The problem with a private developer getting involved is that €300,000 plus for ‘affordable housing’ isn’t affordable.

“And once you involve a private developer it becomes about profit and that makes the housing out of reach for the people it’s intended to house. So what you’re gonna end up with is housing that’s ridiculously expensive and developers that are making a huge amount of money.”

However, Watters said he believes the pricing for the housing units is reasonable. “The Dublin Agreement Parties have managed to achieve a substantial reduction in the price of the ‘affordable purchase’ units compared to the previous plan that was promoted by Fine Gael and Sinn Fein,” he said.  

“Now a one-bedroom apartment will start at €240,000, a two-bedroom at €260,000 and a three-bedroom house will cost between €290,000 and €310,000.”

The attempt to overturn the decision was defeated at the Dublin City Council December meeting. A motion supported by Sinn Féin, People Before Profit and some independents attempted to rescind a council report on the issue. 

However, councillors from Fianna Fáil, Green Party, the Labour Party, members of the Social Democrats along with Fine Gael voted against and it was defeated by 35 votes to 22.

“There’s questions now about the 50% private housing and whether that will be made available to an approved housing body but there’s no guarantee of that,” McVeigh said. 

“At the moment there’s no housing body in the mix and the minister had already said he won’t be funding an approved housing body to buy that back. So the idea that some people have that it’s now 80% public is completely unfounded.”

Independent councillor Anthony Flynn said the public doesn’t support the deal, and the councillors who put forward the motion to rescind will be taking legal advice regarding the development. 

\”An independent group and anybody else who wants to get involved with that will be brought in,” Flynn said. “O’Devaney Gardens is certainly not off the table, we can’t put another motion to rescind down, that was confirmed, but I think the judicial review is how we are going to move forward.”

With so much passion from councillors and Dublin residents alike, it is unclear what the future holds for the O’Devaney Gardens site.

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