Council rejects attempt to keep south Dublin site for Travellers

Mount Anville site had been earmarked for Traveller accommodation

Ossian Smyth, Green Party councillor and chair of the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council,  said the Mount Anville site cannot be sold without a “specific disposal motion” coming forward. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

Ossian Smyth, Green Party councillor and chair of the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, said the Mount Anville site cannot be sold without a “specific disposal motion” coming forward. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

 

An attempt to keep a south Dublin site earmarked for Traveller accommodation from being sold has been voted down by councillors.

At the monthly meeting of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council on Monday, councillors voted against removing the Mount Anville site in Goatstown from a list of properties being considered for sale.

The motion to remove the site from the list was proposed by People Before Profit councillor Hugh Lewis, who said selling off such sites “negates the fact that we need to provide housing”.

Councillors voted in favour of receiving a full list of estimated values for the proposed assets for sale and also to receive legal advice before it proceeds with any disposal of property.

Speaking after the meeting, Green Party councillor and chair of the council, Ossian Smyth said the Mount Anville site cannot be sold without a “specific disposal motion” coming forward.

“[The vote] is really just the sentiment of the council. It’s a day of disappointment for the Travellers and the people supporting them that the majority of councillors voted against them,” he said.

A number of members of the Travelling community attended the council meeting.

Council management said it has inherited a €33 million debt from the Dún Laoghaire Harbour company and there is also a requirement to raise at least €17 million to enable projects under the capital spending programme to proceed.

Among the assets suggested for sale are offices at Library Road and a site at George’s Place – both in Dún Laoghaire.

Objections

Traveller accommodation has been proposed at the former council depot at Mount Anville since 1985, and it has been designated by the council for Travellers since 2009. However, the site has lain idle following widespread objection from residents to the plan, citing an impact on property prices and the local national school.

It was recently valued at €15 million if the designation for Traveller housing was removed. Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan – then a councillor – said in 2014 it would be a “dreadful waste...of taxpayers’ money” if the site were used for Traveller accommodation.

Mr Lewis said he does not consider delivering accommodation, whether it be Traveller accommodation, social housing or affordable housing, a waste.

“How are we going to deliver accommodation and housing for this county if we can’t even retain the sites that we have in our ownership to do this? I want to see construction started on these sites, I don’t want to us to have to wait around for another Traveller Accommodation Programme.”

Labour councillor Peter O’Brien said it would be “ludicrous” to sell off land owned by the council that is zoned for housing.

“We have other assets and I think it would be much more prudent and much more beneficial of time spent by bringing out all the assets that’s owned by the council that is not zoned housing,” he said.

Labour councillor Alex White said it would be “absolutely unconscionable” for the council to consider selling sites during a housing crisis.