Sinn Féin has called for an emergency meeting of Dublin City Council to discuss the furore surrounding a supposed housing agreement to redevelop the O’Devaney Gardens site in the north inner city.
Controversy continued to rage after it emerged that a deal announced on November 4 by a group of councillors had not been run by the Department of Housing prior to its agreement, nor had funding for the purchase of units to supposedly build affordable housing been sanctioned by the Government.
The well-known site near the Phoenix Park, first constructed in 1954, has been derelict for the past 10 years and had become a byword for anti-social behaviour while stakeholders tried to agree out how it should best be redeveloped.
A Government-endorsed deal to build just under 800 homes on the site via a €7 million deal with developer Bartra - split between 30% social housing, 20% affordable rentals, and 50% private purchase - had foundered due to lack of support from councillors.
The disputed deal agreed in early November by the council’s Dublin Agreement Group - comprising councillors from Fianna Fáil, the Greens, Labour, and the Social Democrats - was claimed to have secured an additional 30% of the units to be used for affordable housing.
Daithí Doolan, Sinn Féin’s housing spokesperson on the council, said “this claim has now proven to be false”.
“We raised these concerns during the recent debate on their proposed deal,” Mr Doolan said.
“We opposed this deal because we believed it could not and would not deliver affordable housing or decent community gains. That view is proven to be correct,” he said, adding that his party would be “contacting other parties to discuss holding a special meeting of Dublin City Council to discuss these revelations”.
The idea that the agreement group had failed to engage with the Department of Housing prior to agreeing a new deal was however vigorously disputed by members of that grouping.
Fianna Fáil councillor Mary Fitzpatrick said that it was inaccurate for Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy to dispute the legality of the new agreement.
“The site was lying vacant for years because Fine Gael wouldn’t fund its development,” she told RTÉ radio. “We want affordable housing and the Government is not prepared to fund it,” she said.
Local Labour councillor Joe Costello meanwhile said that the Minister’s assertion is “incorrect and unacceptable”. “It is perfectly legal and possible for this deal to proceed,” he said.