A €47 MILLION plan is under way to develop a community village for deaf people off the Navan Road in Cabra.
The “Deaf Village” will provide a range of administrative, residential, social and sporting facilities. It includes offices, an auditorium, café and shop, chapel, deaf heritage centre, school and education centre, residential space for retired deaf adults as well as day pupils at the two schools, and a swimming pool. When complete, the village will employ 150.
The plan is being spearheaded by the Catholic Institute for Deaf People (CIDP), which runs two deaf schools in Cabra and a residential home for older and vulnerable deaf adults in Stillorgan. It also owned the St Vincent’s Deaf Centre on Lower Drumcondra Road which was sold last year for around €15 million to the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA), which is to use it for the Metro North line.
Liam O’Dwyer, chief executive of the CIDP, said that at around the same time that the village idea was suggested, it was approached by the RPA with regards to St Vincent’s. “They made it clear that if CIDP was not interested in selling then a CPO would have to be put on the building, as it was central to their plans for the new metro,” said O’Dwyer.
CIDP owned a number of sites in the Cabra area that could have housed the deaf village. “The idea is that the deaf community would have best-of-kind facilities around sports, community development, education, socialisation and administration, and independent living,” says O’Dwyer.
It is hoped to start work on the plan in three phases beginning in March 2010. Construction will take between five and seven years.
O’Dwyer was appointed by the CIDP in January 2008 to oversee the project. CIDP has brought on board up to 15 deaf groups to be part of the village, including Deafhear, the Irish Deaf Society, the Irish Deaf Sports Association and the Dublin Deaf Association. Five committees have been set up to oversee aspects of the project.
“The biggest challenge is to ensure that the deaf community are comfortable with the development, because this is not about CIDP,” says O’Dwyer. “This is about the deaf community, and the deaf community developing itself, and making certain it has access to the types of facilities and supports that will enable deaf people be what they want to be into the future.”
CIDP has appointed WK Nowlan Company as property and project advisors, while O’Mahoney Pike has been chosen as the architects.
In addition to the €15 million from the St Vincent’s sale, CIDP plans to raise funds by approaching the Government about grants as well as moving its existing facilities to the village site. It also hopes to approach private sources for funding. But the fall in property values and the recession has raised the possibility of having to sell off more land around the village site than originally intended. Already the CIDP has been forced to delay the third phase of the project. Having to sell land that could form part of the future expansion of the village and the deaf schools has alarmed some members of the deaf community.
“The deaf community has a strong association with Cabra,” says O’Dwyer. “Cabra has always been the home of the schools. And it’s for that reason that the community would prefer that no further lands were sold in Cabra. And our intention is not to sell them unless we really have to.”