Christian Brothers and builder seek planning changes for Swords lands

Order and Michael Bailey want to progress housing developments on adjoining lands

The Christian Brothers and a Bailey brother – builder Michael – are seeking planning changes to bring forward housing developments on their adjoining lands near Swords in north Co Dublin.

Mr Bailey’s company Bovale and the Catholic order have engaged the same consultants to make separate submissions to Fingal County Council on a development plan that will guide new housing in the region for the rest of the decade. The submissions, lodged within an hour of each other last Thursday morning, reflect changing fortunes. Michael Bailey is well known for his prolonged planning tribunal entanglements, a €22.17 million tax settlement with his brother Tom in 2006 and their disqualification as company directors for seven years in 2014.

Nama debts

Now Bovale, which still has significant National Asset Management Agency debts, has told Fingal council that some 7,000 dwellings could be built at on its 142-acre site at Lissenhall over

10 years. The submission was one of three from the company last week. Bovale asked the local authority for zoning to allow “new residential communities” on its 63-acre lands at St Doolagh’s in Dublin 17. It also sought “metro economic corridor” zoning from the council on 9.7 acres of its 27.5 acres at Barrysparks, near Swords.


The Christian Brothers own 10.7 acres at Lissenhall within the centre of Bovale’s lands there. The Emmaus retreat centre on the site closed during the pandemic but more than 80 refugees from the war in Ukraine recently moved in there.

After stepping back from education and finding that demand for retreat facilities has diminished, the Christian Brothers are “actively looking to a more suitable long-term use” for the property. Their submission to the council, filed by consultants BMA Planning, seeks “suitable zoning objective to facilitate the development of the Emmaus centre lands for primarily residential use”. In a mark of long delays on the proposed metro to link the area with central Dublin, the submission said zoning “does not need to be contingent” on any single public transport project.

A source close to the Christian Brothers indicated no agreements were in place with Bovale in respect of the site. “There are absolutely no plans at this point beyond responding to the public consultation,” the source said. Bovale did not reply to phone and email requests for comment.

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times