Newly-elected councillors have come in for criticism from Workers’ Party representative Éilis Ryan after voting last night (Monday 2nd September) to sell off a plot of public land to private developers on Harcourt Street, Dublin 2. The decision reverses a vote by the previous council – led by then councillor Éilis Ryan – to prevent the sale of the same plot of land.  

Speaking following the motion, Ryan said: “Astonishingly, one of the very first acts of the newly-elected city council was to reverse one of the best achievements of the last council – preventing the sale of the family silver to private developers. 

“Not only does the vote to sell our public land to a private developer undermine the “Dublin agreement” signed by those who backed the sell-off last night. It actively undermines the democratic decision of the previous council, who supported my proposal to prevent the sale.” 

Ryan continued: 

“A measly five councillors opposed the motion, and all those present from the Greens, Sinn Féin, Labour and the Social Democrats allied with the right wing parties to back the sell off of valuable public land for for-profit private development. 

“These are councillors who ran for election under a banner of “progressive” politics, but have now, almost immediately after being elected, have shown their true colours. Their claim is that the site in question is not suitable for public housing – but surely the city could also do many other things with the land it owns; retail, art spaces, cultural venues, amenities. True progressive politics is about defending the public realm and public space in all its variety. Selling off our silver to a private developer will never achieve this.” 

Ryan concluded: 

“I am amazed that, twice now, motions which I secured to prevent the sale of public land have been actively overturned through the use of obscure standing orders. 

“It goes to show just how deep the belief in sell offs and privatisations runs amongst many elected councillors and city officials. If we want to be left with anything of our own in this city, we need to stop cow-towing to corporate interests and profits. It seems unlikely this will happen under the current council.”