Article from the June 2005 issue of the Socialist
newspaper of the Socialist Party, Irish section of the CWI
Sinn Fein delivers windfall for developers
by Councillor Clare Daly
IN JANUARY of this year, communities in Swords and Dublin 15 were celebrating the success of Socialist Party motions, that secured a green belt zoning on hundreds of acres of land, which had been targeted for residential development. Of all the Dublin councils, Fingal has experienced the most growth, with the majority of that concentrated in the above areas.
Residents face daily gridlock, inadequate public transport, a schools' crisis and total dearth of facilities. The failure of the government to implement the Kenny Report on the control of the price of building land has fuelled massive speculation and profiteering. This has led to the phenomenal price of housing, and failure to deliver the necessary infrastructure to support the scale of development has resulted in residents paying on the double for this crisis.
At the end of May, the Development Plan changes had to be ratified by the Councillors. With decisions making a difference of millions to developers and landowners, the lobbying was intense to get some of the decisions overturned. The new brown envelope of "community gain" was introduced whereby the lack of schools and facilities were used by the developers to offer land for community purposes in return for getting thousands of houses. This is simply a more sophisticated version of interference in the planning process.
But for the first time, last year's local elections had broken the rezoning alliance of the right-wing parties which had dominated Fingal since its inception. The Socialist Party, Labour, the Greens and Sinn Fein, all of whom contested the elections on an anti-developer, pro-community platform, had a majority, and a real opportunity was posed to secure proper planning that took account of infrastructure.
However in a disgusting move, Sinn Fein sided with Fianna Fail and Fine Gael to overturn the decision for 140 acres in Swords and restore the residential zonings. Their Councillor did not participate in any of the discussions during the months of meetings on this plan and yet it was with that one vote that all the campaigning of the community was betrayed.
In Barnhill in Dublin 15, it was the absence of Sinn Fein and a U-turn by the Greens which saw a similar green belt zoning overturned.
These parties claim to represent the interests of ordinary people. They have betrayed the communities which elected them and ensured that the developers are laughing all the way to the bank. And these parties claim to be the radical alternative!