Wednesday, 18 November 2020
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I was amazed by the decision of Dublin City Council a couple of nights ago in respect of a proposed development at Oscar Traynor Road. This is an area of Dublin near which I used to live. There was a plan to have 253 social homes, 172 affordable homes, 214 cost rental homes and 214 private homes on the relevant site. Councillors put a stop to that entire development by a vote of 48 to 14. The result is that not a single unit will be built on the site for at least eight years. The supposed reason for the decision is that instead of allowing a developer-led project with a 50-50 split between private sites and social and affordable houses, councillors want the council to develop the site to provide 100% social and affordable housing. That seems to me to be a case of cutting off one's nose to spite one's face. In other words, petty ideological reasons now mean that instead of having 425 social and affordable homes, there will be none in that development. Those 48 councillors were led by Sinn Féin and its colleagues on the hard left, but the merry band also included councillors from the Labour Party.
I would like a debate with the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, to discuss a number of issues. Quite apart from what the Minister might say, it would be an opportunity for our Sinn Féin and Labour Party colleagues to explain to the House how their parties can justify incredible decisions such as that one. I lost track of the number of sermons I heard from Deputy Ó Ríordáin when he was a Member of this House on the need for more housing and yet he is one of the local politicians opposing this development. He is not alone. The same people who bleat in these Houses about a constitutional right to housing opposed the building of houses in local communities. To quote Katharine Hepburn in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner", nobody seems to know nothing no more.
Dublin City Council seems to be dysfunctional and incapable of addressing the housing crisis in this city. It routinely vetoes or stymies housing development. Perhaps it is time to start considering stripping that council of its planning powers if it will not do what is needed. Council members have discussed all sorts of motions in recent years, from the eighth amendment to the Constitution to whether to raise the Palestinian flag over City Hall, but they are failing to deal with people's fundamental needs. I request a debate with the Minister on the issue.