Neil Blaney’s political legacy

Controversial planning decision

Sir, – Neil Blaney, whatever about his other decisions, opposed the controversial planning decision to demolish Georgian houses on Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin, to make way for ESB offices (Brian Maye, An Irishman’s Diary, September 30th).

Dublin Corporation had given the ESB planning permission which allowed the demolition of 13 to 28 Lower Fitzwilliam Street.

This decision was appealed to the minister of local government Neil Blaney, who was then the final arbiter on planning matters.

Research by Erika Hanna on 1960s Cabinet papers, and reported in her book Modern Dublin: Urban Change and the Irish Past (Oxford University Press), shows that Neil Blaney presented a memorandum to Cabinet on June 27th, 1963, whose conclusions are worth repeating: “Having carefully considered all the facts put before him, he Blaney] has come to the conclusion that the demolition of these houses would cause irreparable damage to the character of the area, that the ESB have greatly exaggerated the position about the allegedly dangerous condition of the houses and that it would be practicable to recondition them at reasonable cost. He accordingly proposes that the appeals should be allowed and that the general permission granted to the ESB by Dublin Corporation should be revoked.”


This recommendation was overruled in Cabinet mainly, it seems, because of Seán Lemass’s view. The rest is history. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 16.

Sir, – Neil Blaney took responsibility for the controversial decision to demolish Georgian houses on Fitzwilliam Street. Although he expressed opposition to the plan in Cabinet, once the Cabinet backed the proposal, he took a public stance backing the collective decision.

Different times. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 8,

Sir, – Neil Blaney once spoke for the genuine grassroots when he said that he never left Fianna Fáil, Fianna Fáil had left him.

People who believed in the social democratic programme laid out in 1926 and the advocation of an united country were sadly to be disappointed to see such a force descend into the type of party which it has become today. – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.

Sir, – Ah, “Taca”! I can still see then leader of the opposition Liam Cosgrave on a platform in Dublin’s O’Connell Street in the early 1970s, with the wind and rain beating down, fulminating against Fianna Fáil’s controversial fundraising arm! Ignoring that it was an Irish word for “support”, the future taoiseach converted Taca into an acronym for “Take all cash available”! – Yours, etc,



Dublin 16.