Minister defends €23m greyhound track cost as comparable to prices in area

Joe McHugh says it is ’big money’ but less per acre than price of site 1 km away

Minister for Education Joe McHugh has defended a decision to pay €23 million for the former greyhound track at Harold’s Cross in Dublin, almost twice the €12 million valuation the seller Bord na gCon had received.

The department purchased the land as permanent accommodation for Shellybanks Educate Together school and the South City Educate Together secondary school.

Mr McHugh, at his first Dáil question time in his education portfolio, acknowledged that the €23 million was “big money” for six acres. But, he said, that “breaks down to €3.8 million an acre”.

The Minister said the first question he asked was if there were any comparisons in the area. He was told “a 3.43 acre site on Harold’s Cross Road, about 1 km from the site, achieved a price in excess of €15 million, or more than €4.367 million an acre, in mid-2017”.


Fianna Fáil education spokesman Thomas Byrne raised concerns about the price paid, pointing out that previous valuation for the Irish Greyhound Board carried out by estate agents Savvies valued the venue at €12 million for housing and €6 million if the land was rezoned for recreation.

The sale of the track cleared Bord na gCon’s €16.2million debt.

Mr Byrne asked if the Minister was concerned that the valuation was almost twice that received by the greyhound board.

“It appears as if all its Christmases had come at once when this valuation was proposed.”

Mr McHugh said the valuation included an analysis of the existing market, zoning in relation to residential values and the need to clear the site of existing structures.

He said, in the interests of transparency, the department would publish the valuation office report on its website with an update from the office.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times