Sunday 16 November 2008

'Painting over the cracks'

Residents at a local authority estate designated as one of the state's largest regeneration schemes have been delivered the final insult in their futile quest for new homes.

Neglected for nearly a decade while their flats awaited the wrecking ball, Dublin City Council has finally started work at the complex – by giving the exterior of the housing blocks a fresh coat of paint.

It is the first significant maintenance to take place in O'Devaney Gardens since plans for its redevelopment were first mooted a decade ago.

The city council said the repainting project would cost in the region of €250,000 and would be carried out along with the scheduled demolition of four blocks of empty flats.

A statement said: "The demolition has been priced at €440,000. The figure for painting the complex is €250,000.

"Dublin City Council believes that these works, together with the planned playground will prove to be of benefit to the local residents in the context of the delay to the regeneration project.

"[Dublin] City Council is in the process of painting the exterior of nine blocks in O'Devaney Gardens." These are the blocks that will remain.

"Demolition started last Monday on the four blocks. It is anticipated that the demolition will be finished in January 2009."

Labour's Joe Costello said the council were quite literally "painting over the cracks."

The local TD said: "This certainly isn't going to fix very much. The city council are responding to the fact that things got out of hand over Hallowe'en and it was a warzone over the holiday period for about three days and three nights.

"They are faced with a situation where they
have to come up with new plans and this is obviously going to take considerable time.

"All of the tenants, except for 79 people, want to leave the estate entirely. There are less than 180 families now and more than half of them want to get out of there and you cannot blame them.

"They had agreed to stay there with the expectation of a brand new village with all mod cons and a good standard of accommodation.

"All of that has been blown out of the water by the decision by property developer Bernard McNamara to pull out of the project."

The plans had been officially launched in February 2007 when then taoiseach Bertie Ahern and McNamara came together to celebrate the official signing of the project.

Ahern had also been the first to congratulate local residents in December 2005 when the developer had first been chosen.

A spokesman for McNamara said at the time the projects were cancelled: "The decision in relation to these PPPs was taken because of a combination of two things – the downturn in the marketplace and fundamental changes to the schemes that would have required a new planning application."

Sunday Tribune

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