Finglas residents vow to continue modular housing protest

Dublin group is blocking the building of houses for the homeless over planning issues

It will take over a year to install emergency 'modular' housing. Where did it all go wrong?


Residents in north Dublin have said they will continue to protest and block the building of modular houses for homeless families on a local site until a “proper plan” is put in place for the future of the area.

Work on the site on St Helena’s Drive in Finglas had started this month.

The site has planning permission for the construction of 40 homes, which are to be a mixture of two- to three-bedroom units.

Sandra Devlin, a co-founder of the Finglas Action Group that has organised the protests, said the demonstrations had stopped work going ahead on the site and would continue to do so “indefinitely”.

“There is no plan and we want a plan. We need engagement with the council and that these reactionary estates stop,” she said.

“We’ve no issue with the buildings [modular units] themselves, it’s the planning we’ve always had a problem with.”

Ms Devlin said the action group of more than 200 had the support of residents in the area, which has a history of anti-social behaviour.

“This area has struggled for 30 years and has just started to settle. We have to come together and solve the issues responsibly,” she said.

Dublin City Council (DCC) approved the building of the “rapid build” units at the end of a cul-de-sac in south Finglas last October in response to the worsening housing crisis.

Ms Devlin said there were two schools, a childcare centre and a complex with senior citizens in the lane way leading to the site.

“Where are all the children that move here going to go to school? The schools here are already full. We want houses there but with a social mix,” she said.

“It is a completely unnatural way for an estate to develop.

“The planning laws are there for a reason. They advocate integration and sustainability.

“DCC promised a public meeting and we still haven’t had one.”

Ms Devlin said she questioned why a number of boarded-up and empty houses in the area were not being used to help end the housing crisis.

“You could buy up many houses around Finglas for under €250,000, which is what the modular housing costs.”

‘Transient nature’

Mary Tyrrell, who has lived in the area for more than 40 years, said she joined the protest to highlight the “transient nature of the development”.

“We’re not being listened to. People living around the site have not seen any plans,” she said.

Protester John Redmond said there needed to be a mix of social and affordable housing on the site.

“We’re not against the homeless coming here. We’re fearful for these people going in there that there is a lack of services to support them,” he said.

“Why pick out an area like Finglas that is already struggling with deprivation and lack of resources?”

A spokeswoman for DCC disputed there had been a lack of engagement with the residents in the area and said Finglas residents had been invited to view the modular housing units that had already been completed in Ballymun.

“Dublin City Council senior housing officials have met with the residents on a number of occasions and will continue to do so,” she said.

She said placements of families into the units would be based on criteria including time on the housing list, their selected area of choice and whether the size of the family matched the property size.

“Families will be moving into these units based on their areas of choice on the housing list, in this case Finglas, [and] the children will already be attending local schools,” she said.

She said that, under the Planning and Development Act, full planning procedures are not required as “necessary for dealing urgently with any situation which the manager considers an emergency situation calling for immediate action.

“In this case families at risk of homelessness and rough sleeping.”

Works on the Drimnagh and Ballyfermot sites are also due to begin this month, and in Belcamp, Malahide Road, in July.

All 131 units are expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Figures in February showed there were a total 790 families, including 1,616 children, living in emergency accommodation in the State.

About 1,200 of these children were living in commercial hotels.