Housing is a Right, Not a Privilege

Protests over Irish Glass Bottle Site

By Louise Whelan

Irish Glass Bottle Housing Action Group held a public protest march at the IGB site in Ringsend on 6th July and a second march on 19th July. These very important protests were to protect the 550 social and affordable homes that were promised on the old Irish Glass Bottle Site.

Residents in Ringsend and Irishtown will not accept being priced out of the very neighbourhood that they grew up in, with their children’s future being cheated out of a living. The group has fought long and hard against private housing since 2016 to deliver genuinely affordable housing that benefits people and families in the locality.

Local councillors and TD’s have also been joining forces with the group since the beginning to ensure that these homes are delivered.

The protests called for the resignation of the Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien and the Minister for Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport, Eamon Ryan, for their lack of decisive action and amid fears that not enough affordable houses will be built.

In late 2018, a deal between the council, the Department of Housing and the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) on the affordable housing provision was in the final stages of agreement. NAMA had offered the then Housing Minister, and our own elected TD at the time, Eoghan Murphy land on the IGB site to build 900 Social and Affordable homes for €60 million.

In 2019, Dublin City Council and NAMA reached an agreement that would have secured the IGB lands in the Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) for the affordable homes at a discount of approximately 60% of the market cost. However, despite this agreement, and the last minute intervention of a senior official in NAMA, the Department of Housing Planning and Local Government and the Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy, refused to provide the required financing to purchase the land. This was a slap in the face for the people of Ringsend, Irishtown and surrounding communities. The group was aware that in order for this development to progress, the investment of up to €80 million public money would have been required. This money would also be used on a new bridge over the River Dodder and the infrastructure without which the development of the SDZ could not proceed.

The IGB Action Group felt then that the only way to guarantee the lower cost of both the Social and Affordable homes on the SDZ was for NAMA to transfer control of their 20% stake to Dublin City Council and this could have been achieved on the basis that it could form part of the dividend payable to NAMA to the Government on the conclusion of their negotiations.

But this option sadly failed to secure financial backing from the government.

NAMA has now sold its remaining 20% stake in the Irish Glass Bottle Site to a consortium, led by private developer Johnny Ronan of the Ronan Group Real Estate (RGRE) and US private equity firm, Oaktree. Mr Ronan and Oaktree together bought 80% of the land already in 2020 for €200 million and were granted planning permission more than a year ago. Mr Ronan has since been locked in negotiations with the government on how to deliver these affordable units.

Under a deal being finalised between the Ronan Group, the Department and the Council, only 25 affordable units are being proposed in the 1st phase of development and not 87. This falls short of the expectations of the local community and if this deal goes through, there is no guarantee affordable
houses would be built across the rest of the development with 570 homes in total falling under this category.

The IGB Housing Action Group feel that the only option left for them is the legal route and the group are
shocked and appalled at the proposed deal which would see €270k for a one bedroom unit. They also voice that there is a breach of planning going on the IGB site, doing construction work without any permission.

Speaking on the RICC Radio Community Newsdesk Podcast, members of the IGB Housing Action Group, Patsy Doolin and Kevin Bearney stressed that the 1st phase had already begun without an agreement between all the parties and it is up to the local people to stop this development that should never have started until an agreement was reached, and it is an absolute betrayal to the local people what was promised in the initial deal agreed in 2018. Patsy went on to say that the local councillors and TD’s of the areas were backing them 100% and have been supportive since day one, but now noise has to be made and we must all take a stand against this very bad deal by the Department of Housing as all our children’s
future is at stake, adding “We must stand up for the area we live in.”

Every child deserves a home!

The Irish Glass Bottle Site has a long history in Ringsend, over a hundred years. It was a place of work for the local residents and their family members. It shut down in 2002 with job losses for 380 people in the area who were employed in the company. Sean Moore Road is the cheapest price on the site to build so it makes sense as an extension of Ringsend to build there. This is why the Ringsend and Irishtown people have such an affinity with the site and want to save what is part of our heritage, to fight for a legacy for future generations, for local people to settle down in their own communities and not have to move out of their own areas due to housing prices. To put down roots in their own neighbourhood.

And why shouldn’t we! We should be able to afford to live in our own town. It is OUR Town.

This land was promised to the Ringsend people and they will continue their fight.

The Irish Glass Bottle Housing Action Group is a non-political organisation who has worked with all political parties and Independents to achieve their goals. For more information you can contact them at facebook.com/IGBhousing

Further update: As of July 2023, the IGB Housing Action Group has met with the developers of the IGB site who confirmed they made available to our own Housing Department the entire allocation of Social and Affordable homes on Phase 1.

So we will see what progresses from here, keep an eye on the IGB page for new information with more details to follow.

Pictures: Sandra Hawkins