herald

Saturday 23 September 2017

Council accused of engaging in 'Trump-like politics' over decision to sell €600k house

Councillor Mark Ward
Councillor Mark Ward

South Dublin County Council (SDCC) has been accused of engaging in "Trump-like" politics following a decision to put a house left vacant for 10 years on the private market.

At SDCCs monthly meeting, the council voted 22 to 15 to sell the house on St Patrick's Road, Clondalkin, rather than keep it for social housing.

A heated 90-minute debate ensued over the house, which has cost the council more than €600,000 to date.

The project began in 2006 when the local authority built a 1.8-metre wall between St Patrick's estate and Michael Collins Park in a bid to prevent anti-social behaviour on the vacant site between the two areas.

The council planned to recoup the cost of the wall by building the house and selling it, with the added benefit that the buyers would act as "additional passive supervision" for the area.

Sinn Fein councillor Mark Ward said he was angry that SDCC voted to sell one of the limited housing stock on the private market during the State's "biggest housing crisis".

"This is old politics at its worst," he said. "During the council meeting, it was agreed this was a flawed decision by a previous council and it would never happen in today's climate.

"We had a chance as a council to rectify the mistakes of the past, and 22 councillors failed to do so. This was Donald Trump-like politics."

"There is no benefit to those on our social housing waiting list in selling this house.

"Sinn Fein explored the possibility of ring-fencing the money from the sale to potentially purchase two social homes, but unfortunately this compromise was not accepted by the council."

Compulsory

The combined cost of building the wall and the house came to €563,759.

The council only secured ownership of the full site after a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) was confirmed by An Bord Pleanala in 2013.

Formal possession of the site was taken in February 2014.

The council said "miscellaneous expenditure" brought the total cost of the project to €608,387.80.

SDCC mayor Guss O'Connell, who chaired the meeting, told the Herald that he voted in favour of putting the house on the private market.

"I voted to sell the house. It was like Hobson's choice," he said. "We had to make a decision and very often in politics decisions are hard. Mark is entitled to his opinion, but I'm not sure exactly what he means by 'Trump-like politics'.

"I gave everyone an opportunity to have their say two or three times. You could see how everyone on both sides were agonising on what the best thing to do was, but at the end of the day the vote was taken to uphold the decision of the council in 2006 to sell the house.

"What will happen now is that someone will buy that house. It'll still go to a deserving family anyway."

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