Workers’ Party representative Éilis Ryan has called for a Dublin-wide plebiscite on the use and ownership of public lands, ahead of a vote tonight at Dublin City Council on whether or not to grant the lands to Bartra Capital for development. In 2016, then councillor Ryan successfully proposed a plan for 100% public cost rental housing on O’Devaney Gardens, which was later overturned. 

Speaking ahead of tonight’s vote, Ryan said: 

“Tonight, five years after the council originally proposed to privatise 70% of Dublin city’s major landbanks, a vote will finally take place on whether to dispose of O’Devaney Gardens into the hands of a private developer. 

“That five year delay speaks volumes. Private, for-profit development of our public lands is not only totally unjust – it is inefficient, costly and time consuming. That is why I am calling for a plebiscite to be held across Dublin on the issue of whether we should sell or lease our public lands to private developers, prior to any further votes on land sales.” 

In 2016, Ryan – then a councillor – successfully put a proposal before Dublin City Council for 100% public, cost rental housing – “The Vienna Model” – on the O’Devaney Gardens site. Sinn Féin, Labour, the Green Party, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Social Democrats voted to overturn that plan in September 2016, following significant pressure from council officials and government Ministers.

Ryan continued: 

“The plebiscites held in Cork, Limerick and Waterford on the issue of directly-elected Mayors show the possibility of direct democracy in guiding major public decision-making at a local level. Obviously, local referendums are not binding; however they can serve to make clear to our local and national representatives the opinion and preference of a city’s citizens. 

“No issue warrants public consultation more than how our public land should be used during a housing crisis. Giving O’Devaney Gardens over to Bartra means losing forever an asset which, if kept in public ownership, could provide housing as a human right to generations into the future.” 

Ryan concluded: 

“I am calling for councillors to oppose tonight’s proposal that O’Devaney Gardens be given to Bartra for development. A plebiscite should then be organised across the four Dublin local authorities, putting the question to the people; “Do Dubliners support or oppose selling/leasing/giving public land to private, for-profit interests?”

“I believe the answer will be clear.”