Negotiations among State bodies delay plan for 3,000 homes across Dublin, Cork and Limerick

Housing Minister tells Cabinet of hold-up in transfers of three sites to the Land Development Agency

The transfer of State lands that could hold more than 3,000 homes to the Land Development Agency has been delayed, the Government has been told.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien updated Cabinet on Tuesday about the process of transferring land from various state bodies to the LDA, which was set up to streamline the process of building homes on the land.

According to the update, three sites are now classified as “high priority, transfer delayed”, where progress has been held up “due to ongoing negotiations with the relevant landowners, despite the sites being largely unconstrained for delivery”.

The sites are: lands adjacent to the Leopardstown Racecourse, owned by Horse Racing Ireland, with an estimated capacity of between 1,550 and 2,080 homes; ESB lands at Wilton Cork that could hold 300 units; and HSE lands at Colbert Quarter in Limerick, with an estimated yield of 700 homes.


A Government spokesman said that among the issues that can delay a transfer is a disagreement over valuation of land. Ministers have been told to “ensure transfers are expedited”.

The Irish Times reported last month that there is a standoff between the LDA and Horse Racing Ireland over its plan to put 2,000 homes at Carrickmines site next to the racecourse.

The Land Development Agency (LDA) wants to develop up to 2,080 homes on the land, which is owned by Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) and the local authority, adjacent to the famous racetrack.

However, HRI is in the process of developing its own master plan for the site, which is expected to include a range of amenities beyond housing – including a hotel and events centre, and the possibility of an equestrian sprint track. Such a plan would be expected to feature a housing element, but probably at a lower level than that envisaged by the LDA.

In its Report on Relevant Public Land – a scoping exercise produced earlier this year assessing how much housing could be built on State lands – the LDA estimated that between 1,550 and 2,080 homes could be built on the site at an estimated cost of up to €535.5 million.

The LDA has said it identified 83 sites, including the Carrickmines one, as part of its recent report, which had the potential to deliver 67,000 new affordable homes over the medium to long term.

Meanwhile, 2022 saw a surge of grants for gender recognition certificates, with a total of 321 issued last year. This compares with 195 certificates approved last year, which was at that stage the highest number in any year since the provision to legally change gender was introduced in 2015.

Since the Gender Recognition Act 2015, a person can apply to the Minister for Social Protection for a gender recognition certificate, which ensures that the person’s preferred gender is fully recognised by the State. Anyone over the age of 18 can apply for a certificate, with separate arrangements for children aged 16 and 17.

Once a certificate has been given by the Department, a person can apply to the General Register Office to be included in the register. A birth certificate with the new gender and name of the person can then be issued based on the information recorded in the register.

The Cabinet also discussed a report outlining steps taken to speed up the process for asylum seekers who are applying for international protection. Minister for Justice Helen McEntee told the Cabinet that she was adopting a target of 1,000 first-instance decisions per month by the first quarter of next year, compared with a target of 290 set in the Catherine Day report on reforming direct provision. A Government spokesman said that processing cases in less than three months will improve the performance of the international protection office.

Ms McEntee also received approval from Cabinet to take part in a new mechanism allowing criminal proceedings to be transferred between one EU member state and another. She also briefed Cabinet on plans to assign gardai to France – three for deployment during the tourist season in August, and then another eight during the autumn’s Rugby World Cup.

Members have been assigned to countries within and outside the European Union in the past, including for major sporting events. Last year, the Government also approved the deployment of Garda members to France for the tourist season.

The duties of any Gardaí deployed to France will involve general patrolling, in uniform, in the company of French officers. They will not have police powers while in France. Their role will be to assist in any interactions with Irish citizens, for example anyone who is a victim of crime.

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times