Fintan O’Toole: Marino shows us what the State could do on housing a century ago

A new development in the city is a microcosm of 250 years of control of land in Ireland

The Griffith Wood apartment complex under construction on Griffith Avenue in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The Griffith Wood apartment complex under construction on Griffith Avenue in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

If the Marino housing development tells us what the Irish State could do a century ago, the site across the road, Griffith Wood, tells us what it is doing now

What links the Anglo-Irish aristocracy, the Catholic Church and American property funds? They have all, in turn, exercised control over Irish land. And they are all linked to a specific site on the northside of Dublin that tells a story about the current housing crisis.

This is a story about land – who owns it, who profits from it and how, over the centuries, the public interest and the welfare of citizens get shoved aside. It contains in microcosm centuries of a history in which everything changes but nothing changes.

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