Dublin needs real change – not follies

 

Sir, – A few weeks ago I read with amusement the proposal of the president of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland to reclaim Sandymount Strand from the sea to provide homes for our citizens (“Reclaim Sandymount Strand for apartments, says architect”, News, August 5th).

However, amusement has since transformed into banging my head against the wall following Harry Crosbie’s subsequent suggestion that we reclaim the Tolka Estuary instead – apparently because the Dutch like to do such things (“Reclaim land from Irish sea to tackle housing crisis, says Harry Crosbie”, News, August 17th).

What should be abundantly obvious to every person in this country is that Ireland is not the Netherlands. I should know because I lived there for three years.

We do not have 17 million people squeezed into a space slightly larger than Leinster. We do not have a history of said space being inundated by the sea, nor do we have a very good history of effectively developing the land we have already, unlike the Dutch whose cities are utilised to their fullest potential because of effective planning laws.

No, in Dublin what we have is an abundance of underutilised space managed by four county councils filled with councillors nobody can name or therefore blame for our city’s woes.

We have cottages in our city centre. We have miles of sprawling semi-Ds with no transport links.

We have city councillors who can’t seem to understand the difference between the utility of a skyscraper in the Docklands versus a skyscraper in Finglas.

We have a selfish class of citizens who like to pretend that they live in remote villages in the west of Ireland rather than in a metropolis where dense development is a necessity.

We have a social housing system that is needlessly expensive and wasteful and traps people in poverty.

Most of all, we have a political culture that values home ownership and private development above anything else and a system that is in dire need of change.

Ireland doesn’t have a shortage of land. It has a shortage of imagination and an abundance of hypocrisy among our politicians of all parties and political leanings.

What we need is a real cross-party plan for housing that moves us beyond our traditional conceptions of public and private homes and copies successful models used elsewhere, such as the Nordics.

Follies like these ideas to reclaim Dublin Bay are merely distractions from the real solutions which are staring us in the face. – Yours, etc,

JAMES WHELAN,

Dún Laoghaire,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – Harry Crosbie is disingenuous to state that “there will have to be a compromise found at some time between birds and people”.

To date, we have offered few or no concessions to birds or any other species should they hinder market forces.

Among the many alternatives to Mr Crosbie’s plan might be to reclaim a few golf courses. Elm Park, Clontarf and Castle golf clubs would provide well in excess of the 250 acres mooted. – Yours, etc,

ROSSA BUNWORTH

Clontarf,

Dublin 3.