Sandymount and Merrion Residents Association celebrates its 60th AGM

Members of the SAMRA Committee (Back Row l to r) Liam Handy, Niall McElroy, David Turner (Chairperson), Mark Wheeler, Karl Anderson, Kristin Hadfield, Jeremy Humphries and Councillor Dermot Lacey (Front Row l to r) Stephen Hurley, Joan MacArthur, Deputy Ivana Bacik TD and Irene Duffy Lynch
Dermot Carmody

After a pandemic-imposed hiatus of two years the 60th AGM of the Sandymount and Merrion Residents Association (SAMRA) was held on Monday April 25th in the Sandymount Hotel. Over 100 residents attended the meeting of what is the longest-existing residents association in Dublin.

Attendees at the meeting also included Jim O’Callaghan TD (Fianna Fail) and Labour Party leader, Ivana Bacik TD, as well as Councillors Hazel Chu (Green Party), Dermot Lacey (Labour) and James Geoghegan (Fine Gael). Superintendent Timothy Burke and members of the local Garda Siochana Community Policing Team were also in attendance.

A number of presentations were made to the meeting, including one on the results of a survey conducted by SAMRA among residents which found that the most popular features of living in the Sandymount area included the village atmosphere, access to the beach, safety and security and the range of local amenities.

Challenges facing the area identified are rising sea levels, sea defences, excess road traffic and the pressure on existing infrastructure as a result of increased traffic in the area. Among suggestions from respondents to the survey as to how life in the area could be improved were calls for less pollution on the beach and less traffic in Sandymount village. There was considerable debate during the meeting on these issues, and on Dublin City Council’s plans for a cycleway on Strand Road.

There were also reports on the continued engagement by SAMRA in developments affecting the area, including SAMRA’s submission on the Dublin City Development Plan 2022-28 and on the 3FM project for the development of Dublin Port. SAMRA made a submission voicing residents concerts on the latter last December. In that submission SAMRA asserted that the proposed development should not go ahead as planned, objecting to the proposed “incremental expansion of the port facilities on prime unique landscape” including the building of the Southern Port Access Route and the expansion of the “largest container terminal in the country” adjacent to Sandymount Strand.

With regard to the ongoing development of the Glass Bottle site by the Ronan Group, it was noted that phase 1 of over 600 apartments has received planning approval and will begin soon, including the development of “meanwhile use” facilities including artists’ studios, a meeting house and cafes. SAMRA will continue to lobby for adequate public transport infrastructure to be provided as the development continues.

SAMRA dates back to when Sandymount residents organised in 1957 to campaign against the use of Sandymount Strand as the main refuse dump for Dublin City. The organisation expanded in 1965 to become the Sandymount and Merrion Residents Association because of Dublin Corporation’s plans to fill in the whole of the Strand as far as the City boundary at Merrion Gates with municipal, industrial, and hazardous waste. This was in breach of an agreement reached in 1963 with Dublin Corporation that all dumping would cease at a point close to the city end of Beach Road near the present Sean Moore Road.

Among the achievements over its lifetime listed by SAMRA are the eventual complete cessation of dumping on the strand in 1978 and the development of Sean Moore Park and of Irishtown Nature Park along lines suggested by SAMRA.
Connecting the current iteration of SAMRA right back to its origin is 97-year-old Lorna Pilkington, who was an original member of the association, and although unable to attend the AGM is still very much involved, and has provided information on the history of the association which is held now in the Dublin City Archives, housed in Pearse Street Library.

The membership of SAMRA now stands at around 200 and the association will focus on increasing this membership as far as possible. Given the hard and focused work of committee members and the level of engagement of residents attending the AGM, SAMRA seems set to continue to be an effective advocate for the area and its residents for the foreseeable future.