“No urgency” on housing project in Dunsink says TD

Mike Finnerty 13 Sep 2023

Dunsink Lane has been earmarked by Fingal County Council as a potential site for a housing development, but Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis claims there is “no urgency” in moving the process forward.

The public land bank, near Finglas and Castleknock, was touted as a solution to the housing crisis in Dublin as it sits on up to 1,000 acres of publicly owned land, and is part of the Development Plan for Fingal.

The development could translate to as many as 7,000 housing units, and Fingal County Council launched an examination in 2021 about potentially developing on the land.

Speaking to Northside People, Ellis said he raised the issue in the Dáil last year and received word from Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien that the project was a “priority” for his department, but there has been little progress since.

“I have been with this issue for donkey’s years,” Ellis said, adding “we need a proper return for citizens in the area.”

Ellis says he has discussed the issue with party colleague and housing spokesperson Eoin Ó’Broin, and said the potential of 7,000 housing units would be a boost to solving the accommodation issue in Dublin.

What frustrates Ellis is the “lack of urgency”, and said that “more pressure needs to be put on local authorities” to expedite the process.

The Dublin North-West TD acknowledged there are some legal barriers to clear, such as consulting with a “small number” of owners who privately own small parts of the proposed site and consulting with local members of the Traveller community, but he said “we need to invest in Finglas – this is a big issue with the potential for big gain for local residents.”

The recent rejection of a planned 300-house development in Carrickmines owing to a lack of what An Bord Pleanála cited as a lack of appropriate public transport links would not happen with the Dunsink development, according to Ellis.

“People in that area are fortunate to have great transport links, so that’s one box ticked off,” he said.

“With this development site I feel that we could really make a dent in delivering social affordable housing for Dublin residents.”

“It’s in an ideal location and with the recent census figures showing that Fingal is the fastest-growing constituency in Ireland, local authorities need to strike while the iron is hot.”

He added that “there is no point building all these units without the proper resources put in place by the local authorities.”

Ellis said that the area at large was not a priority for Fingal County Council, pointing to the closure of a 3km access road between Finglas and Castleknock in 2004.

“It’s a real shame that the road has not been re-opened, because I really think it would be a great asset to the area if it was re-opened.”

The Dunsink Observatory was cited as another example of Fingal Council not treating the area as a priority. 

“The Observatory is one of the oldest in Europe, it dates back to the 1700s, yet it’s really difficult for local residents to get to since the road was closed. I think it’s a real shame, that could be part of a revitalised Dunsink area.”

The ownership situation is widely seen as holding back progress on the issue, with roughly 100 acres beside the M50 occupied by the publicly-owned Elmgreen golf course, while another 200 acres are taken up by a former landfill dump. 

“The dump is the worst thing to happen to this area, I’ve always said it,” said Ellis.

Ellis said that he campaigned to have the dump taken out of commission, and said he would display the same temerity in getting this project out of limbo. 

“There is no point sitting on all this land if there isn’t going to be any progress on the issue.”

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