Minister under fire for ‘misleading the public’

By Maurice Garvey

MINISTER for State Catherine Byrne has come under fire for “misleading the public” over proposals for redevelopment at the former St Michael’s Estate.

The spat surrounds Minister Byrne’s opposition to a social and cost rental housing scheme of 470 units at the Inchicore site, and a meeting the Fine Gael Deputy hosted last week.

Grace Hill cut the the other two out pls

At Monday’s Dublin City Council monthly meeting, Councillor Daithí Doolan, Chair of the Dublin City Council housing committee, said councillors were “inundated” with phone calls from irate residents after the public meeting last week, who thought they were “voting on that development today (Monday).”

“There was never going to be a vote today. There is no done deal. This plan goes out to full consultation with the community at the end of this month,” said Cllr Doolan.

“I think it’s shocking that this Minister has misrepresented, misled the public, is promoting politics that is anti-social housing.”

United Left Cllr Pat Dunne said the Minister was acting as a resident, not a Minister of State and “didn’t bother to inform herself of the cost rental model.”

Cllr Rebecca Moynihan said it was “dangerous” that a junior Minister was “essentially running a Nimby campaign based on much needed housing.”

Exploiting the fears of people

“She is exploiting the fears of people without telling them the real information,” said Cllr Moynihan.

“A Minister of State who doesn’t understand the very basics of what cost rental is, who doesn’t understand the profile of people who are renting.”

In July, Deputy Byrne, an Inchicore resident, clashed with Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy at a public event in Inchicore where he announced plans to develop a cost-rental estate at St Michael’s.

In a letter to councillors, Deputy Byrne cited “overdevelopment of the site” as key area of her concern.

She said crime and antisocial behaviour were “serious issues facing our community at present and must be addressed before a huge new housing development gets under way.”

She believes the proposal on the table “is simply the wrong one if it doesn’t include an option for long-term, permanent housing, alongside amenities and services which would benefit the community as a whole.”

“You may have heard that I have stated my opposition to this plan on the basis that I believe the size and scale of this project represents over-development of the site.

"The plan as outlined proposes 30 per cent social housing units, 60 per cent cost-rental units, and ‘possibly’ 10 per cent affordable units for purchase.”

A housing SPC meeting scheduled on Thursday featured a cost rental presentation of St Michael’s estate.

Cllr Doolan wants to check if there is a draft proposal to develop St Michael’s with Dublin City Council and if they will get funding for the draft, which is 30 per cent social, 70 per cent cost rental and a socio-economic development.

He said there are due to be three public consultation phases set up and it will be “several months” before they vote on the proposal.

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