Today, following the absence of funding, government commitment and most of all, political will, O’Devaney remains a vacant, abandoned site and wasted opportunity to use public land to deliver desperately needed affordable homes for working people.
From the start this plan, like Rebuilding Ireland, exposed Fine Gaels lack of ambition for state delivery of affordable homes for working people in Dublin Central.
Despite O’Devaney being the most attractive and valuable residential site in the capital city, this Government refuses to seize the opportunity to use a valuable public asset for the greater good.
Governments offer of a mere 30% of the funding required to develop the site, speaks volumes about their commitment to this development and to solving our wider housing crisis.
With inadequate Government investment, Dublin City Council had no option but to canvass private developers to fund the regeneration of O’Devaney to its full potential.
After two and a half years, the Council brought a proposal to Dublin City Councillors to build a site comprised of 824 residential units (50% private, 30% social, 20% affordable) including crèche, playground, community centre and retail units.
Under Dublin City Councils proposal, there would be no co-living, student, office or hotel accommodation. There would be a guarantee of employment and apprenticeships for local people in the construction project. The new development would be managed by Dublin City Council. The developer would be granted a licence to construct on the land. The social units and public roads, spaces, parks, playground and community facilities would be owned by DCC. The affordable private units would belong to the new homeowners.
Not surprisingly there was no consensus amongst Dublin City Councillors to support this proposal.
Many, not unreasonably, were uncomfortable with the idea that state lands could be sold off to private developers for a profit. Others wanted more height and density. Others faced with housing queries from desperate families every day, felt no choice but to consider backing the proposal – at least then they could offer some chink of light to those on the front line of this housing crisis.
When it became clear that the Council was at an impasse, I asked the Lord Mayor to seek the Minister’s intervention to find a solution.
Unfortunately, the Minister’s reply was unhelpful and ultimately the proposal for O’Devaney was withdrawn from the City Council agenda and deferred until a later date.
The Ministers failure to get this development over the line is a huge blow to the local community. Despite the fanfare and sod turning locals are waiting patiently for more than ten years.
Now, instead of threats to withdraw funding and endless procrastination, the Minister needs to genuinely listen to the needs and ambitions of the local community and respond with real commitment.
The Minister claims our housing crisis is about “neither resources, nor money, nor ideology“. I am calling on him now to prove this is indeed the case and to provide adequate state funding for Dublin City Council to fully develop the site with an equal mix of social, affordable, private and long-overdue community facilities.
The sad truth is, if the Minister cannot deliver affordable housing for working people on prime state-owned site in the heart of our capital city, there is zero chance of him doing it anywhere else in the country.
With more than 10,000 people homeless, 4,000 of them children and every day 3 more families becoming homeless due to Fine Gael’s failed housing policies, I have worked hard with Dublin City Management and my Fianna Fáil, Green, Labour and Social Democrat colleagues to deliver desperately needed homes on O’Devaney and to address the chronic housing affordability crises and lack of community facilities in Dublin 7.
Since being elected to Dublin City Council in May 2019, I have proposed O’Devaney as an ideal site for the Vienna Model of housing: secure, well designed, affordable homes.
I will continue to do everything in my power to deliver a successful social and economic regeneration of O’Devanney Gardens.