Update: Dublin City Councillor Mary Fitzpatrick has said that the agreement reached by the Dublin Agreement Group on O’Devaney Gardens was reached with advice from the law agent of Dublin City Council.
The Fianna Fáil councillor told RTÉ radio’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show that it was inaccurate for the Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy to question the legality of the basis on which the agreement was reached.
Recently city councillors approved by 39 votes to 18 a plan which would see more than 800 new homes on the site of the former flat complex close to the Phoenix Park.
The site, which has been derelict for 10 years, was sold to Bartra Capital for €7m. The plan was approved by the Dublin Agreement Group comprising councillors from Fianna Fáil, the Green Party, Labour and the Social Democrats who have a controlling interest on the council.
Sinn Féin’s housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD told the same show that there was no funding, no request for funding and no legal request and that the units would not be affordable to rent because developer Bartra would be selling the units to the local authority at market value.
“Bartra will make a huge windfall from this.”
However, Fine Gael councillor Paddy McCartan said that when the original agreement was reached in 2017 councillors were told that it could be legally challenged and that there was no funding.
Cllr Fitzpatrick said that the proposed amendment had been made to include affordable rental units. The new agreement was made through the executive of Dublin City Council. The original deal had not included community facilities, she added.
“The site was lying vacant for years because Fine Gael wouldn’t fund its development. We worked with the chief executive (of the council) so that we could deliver a better deal and offer a better social mix.”
She called on the Minister for Housing to provide the necessary funding for the agreement to be implemented.
She added: “We want affordable housing and the Government is not prepared to fund it.”
However, Cllr McCartan said that the Government does not go about its business signing agreements which entail reneging on previous agreements without knowing the legal details.
“We don’t want a repeat of Ballymun,” Cllr McCartan said.
Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development Damien English has called for clarity on plans for the redevelopment of O’Devaney Gardens.
He told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that there is a legal issue involved as the original plan that was passed by Dublin City Council was for a blended development with a 50/50 mix of private and social/affordable housing.
Mr English said that after the meeting at which that was agreed “there was talk about getting extra houses for an approved housing body.”
However, he said that such a housing body has not yet come forward. Mr English said that developer Bartra had discussed selling a portion of the development “at market value” to an approved housing body while the policy of the Department is to acquire them below market value.
“There has been no proposal to do that yet. We will look at it if it comes through.
“What Eoghan Murphy wants is to move this site on. This is a legacy issue. There is an approved plan that has gone through the legal process.”
The Minister wants clarity about what is to be achieved on the site.
A row over funding has put a major new housing development in Dublin at risk.
Close to 800 homes are to be built at the old O'Devaney Gardens site off the North Circular Road.
The plan originally involved a private developer constructing 768 homes at the former flat complex with half being sold off privately and the rest earmarked for social and and affordable housing.
The deal was approved earlier this month after a group of councillors said a commitment was secured from Bartra that 30% of the private units would be offered as affordable rentals.
However, according to the Irish Independent Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has written to the Lord Mayor saying there is no funding to buy any extra homes and that no request has been made.
The letter, that was obtained by Sinn Féin under the Freedom of Information Act, also warned that the homes would have to be bought at the market rate rather than cost price, which would mean the rents would not be affordable.
- Additional reporting by Vivienne Clarke