Chinese invest in Irish social housing and nursing homes

200 secure Irish residency through investments via developer Richard Barrett’s Bartra

Chinese investors are paying €1 million each to social housing schemes planned by developer Richard Barrett's Bartra Capital, in return for the right to live in the Republic under a Government cash for residency programme.

The Department of Justice’s Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) allows non-EU citizens and their families the right to live in the Republic in return for investments or charity donations.

Bartra confirmed on Friday that it has been using the scheme to raise capital from Chinese investors to build social housing and nursing homes in the Republic.

Separately, the company is organising a €2 million endowment for Beaumont Hospital in Dublin for a new operating theatre, while it facilitated €1.6 million in Chinese charitable donations to Tallaght Hospital, to pay for robotic surgery equipment, under the same programme.


Between investments and charity donations, Bartra says that it has aided more than 200 Chinese families take up residence in the Republic. The department has approved all applications from the company’s investors and donors.

Bartra plans to build 1,000 social homes in the Republic. The company would not say how much it has raised from Chinese investors through the programme for this purpose as the information was commercially sensitive.

The company is building 62 homes at sites in Stoneybatter and Poplar Row in Dublin. Ads on Chinese social media inviting people to invest in social housing show approvals for projects at Old Kilmainham, Old Navan Road, Broombridge and Clonliffe, all in the capital.

The company also would not say how much it is raising for nursing homes. Bartra Healthcare has built facilities with a total of 500 bedrooms in north Dublin, at Loughshinny, Northwood and Beaumont Lodge.

It plans further homes with a total of 500 bedrooms. Some of its social media ads highlight approvals for Bartra Clondalkin, which is one of the proposed care facilities.

Residency rights

According to the Department of Justice, to qualify for the residency rights scheme, individuals must have a minimum net worth of €2 million, at least €1 million of which must be available to invest here. They must also be of good character.

The cash must go to projects that the Government has prioritised, including social housing and nursing homes. The department said that since the programme began in 2012, 1,100 individuals have invested €500 million in 190 undertakings.

Investors have their cash returned to them after a designated period. They and their families get residency rights for an initial two years, after which it can be extended by a further three, and then an additional five years. They do not get citizenship through the programme.

Under the investment for residency scheme, charitable gifts can be lower than investments. Bartra expects five Chinese donors to contribute €2 million, €400,000 each, to the Beaumont theatre endowment.

Previously the company has organised donations of €2 million to Dublin Simon and the Irish Community Rapid Response, which helped pay for an emergency helicopter.

The company stresses that it does not collect fees for the charitable donations. It simply organises the cash and passes it to the recipients.

The Department of Justice confirmed that Bartra has benefited from the Immigrant Investor programme (IIP), mainly to fund social housing and nursing homes. “The department cannot confirm any details which may be commercially sensitive,” it added.

Bartra said that it would "continue to promote the IIP through our four Asian offices, driving foreign direct investment into Ireland, creating sustainable employment and delivering on the State's social housing and nursing home needs".

Mr Barrett controls Bartra. He is based in China. Along with developer Johnny Ronan, he was a partner in Treasury Holdings, a boom-era property business that was subsequently liquidated.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas