Council to vote on sale of Mount Anville site set aside for Travellers

Site earmarked for Traveller accommodation has lain idle due to residents’ objections

Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan: Said in 2014 – when still a councillor – it would be a “dreadful waste . . . of taxpayers’ money” if the Mount Anville site was used for Traveller accommodation. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan: Said in 2014 – when still a councillor – it would be a “dreadful waste . . . of taxpayers’ money” if the Mount Anville site was used for Traveller accommodation. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Councillors in south Co Dublin will be asked on Monday evening to vote in favour of selling a site earmarked for Traveller accommodation.

The controversial site, on Mount Anville Road in Goatstown, is one of 10 council-owned properties being put forward for sale at the monthly meeting of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.

Traveller accommodation has been proposed at the site since 1985, and it has been designated by the council for Travellers since 2009. It has, however, lain idle in the face of 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. The valuation followed a call by Fine Gael councillor Barry Saul.

It is the same site that the Minister for Culture, Josepha Madigan – then a councillor – said in 2014 would be a “dreadful waste . . . of taxpayers’ money” if used for Traveller accommodation.

In a report circulated to councillors for Monday’s meeting, management outlines an overall capital spending programme valued at €742 million for the country to 2020.

Inherited debt

While a proportion of this will be covered from central Government and from property tax, the council is also inheriting a €33 million debt from the Dún Laoghaire Harbour company and cannot borrow nationally due to EU fiscal rules.

“There is a requirement to raise at least €17 million to enable all of the projects within this capital programme to proceed,” says the council.

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

We need to move forward with the Traveller Accommodation Programme 

Travellers from the county will protest outside the council chambers before Monday evening’s meeting, calling on councillors to support Traveller accommodation on the site.

Geraldine Dunne, director of the Southside Travellers Action Group, said it was “imperative” the council retained ownership of the site. She said selling it would be “in breach of previous commitments made concerning the site”.

“We need to move forward with the Traveller Accommodation Programme and implement and deliver Traveller accommodation.”

‘Obscene’

Cllr Hugh Lewis of People Before Profit, chair of the council’s Local Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee, described the mooted sale as “obscene”.

Mr Saul, however, said “we need to take the emotion out of this”.

“We are talking here about the future funding of the council . . . Funding from central Government has reduced over the last number of years and we are in a situation that the council increasingly has to fund itself. We need to raise €17 million to do the projects we all want to do across the county.

“I have no problem if a proportion of the money raised is ring-fenced for Traveller accommodation across the county. I would support that.”

The most recent national Traveller count found the county had a Traveller population of 110 households last year, down from 123 in 2015. The number living by the side of the road doubled from five to 10.