Some 540 affordable homes could be built in Shankill under a radical cross-party proposal to tackle the housing crisis in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown.

Councillors Michael Merrigan (Ind), John Bailey (FG) and Shane O’Brien (SF) say they’ve “put their political differences aside” in a bid to find a solution to the crisis.

The co-sponsored cross chamber plan – called the Shanganagh Urban Village Cooperative Housing Development – will be presented at next week’s council meeting in line with DLRCC’s Woodbrook-Shanganagh Local Area Plan 2017-2023.

The councillors have prepared the proposal in recognition of the council’s obligations for the delivery of social and affordable homes in mixed-tenure development, as set forth in Rebuilding Ireland, and the council’s own housing strategies.

THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX: Cllrs O’Brien (SF), Merrigan (Ind) and Bailey (FG)

The trio say that the availability of council-owned land at Shanganagh Castle – the site of the former open prison – is the essential driver of the proposal.

They are proposing to build 200 social houses/apartments and 340 affordable private houses/apartments of all types for private purchase throughout the scheme area, comprising 200 affordable purchase homes and 140 “rent to buy” homes.

The plan was presented to Philomena Poole, the council’s chief executive, by these three councillors along with FG councillors Jim Gildea and Marie Baker at the end of August, with an agreement reached to further develop the idea.

Cllr Merrigan told The Gazette: “With the adoption of the Woodbrook-Shanganagh Local Area Plan, 2017-2023 at the July council meeting, we immediately decided to research and develop an innovative, imaginative and realistically sustainable model for the delivery of social and affordable homes on the council-owned lands at the former open prison site at Shanganagh Castle.”

PUTTING POLITICAL DIFFERENCES ASIDE: Cllrs Bailey, O’Brien and Merrigan outside County Hall in Dun Laoghaire this week

Cllr Bailey said that he and Cllrs Merrigan and O’Brien “put their political differences aside” to find a solution to the housing crisis in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown.

He added: “We sought to assist the council’s executive in its endeavours to meet the council’s obligations as a housing authority and committed ourselves to finding a deliverable solution to the current crisis in housing supply and homelessness.”

Cllr O’Brien said they had to “think outside the box” when coming up with ideas, adding: “We decided to think outside the box in our efforts to get a speedy and efficient delivery of quality homes, social and affordable, in a mixed-tenure development based on the continental urban village design model as representing the most appropriate design for the Shanganagh Castle site.”

If the project goes ahead, 540 homes could be delivered in DLR.


  1. Hi Aengus. my mother and I have received a strangely visceral reaction to a letter (below) which we posted on the Shankill Open Forum (on Facebook) today, having previously sent it to SCAN (Shankill Community Association Newsletter) – who refused to publish it and basically told us we could only air our views on the subject to local councillors! Given that said councillors had already made up their minds and expressed them in the local press (and in the current issue of SCAN, we have noticed), they are hardly worth talking to. Today we discovered that the People’s Front of Judea / Judean People’s Front (you know who I mean) are also in favour of this development. It is a bit strange that they are all focussing on this small (eight-acre) plot of land when there are empty fields in the “park” next door where women and children are afraid to walk; we prefer to walk in the grounds of the castle where there is activity (people tending the allotments and beehives etc) and where it is more picturesque. If we have to have suburban sprawl in Shankill, why not place it where it won’t spoil a precious, beautiful amenity? BTW, I am a freelance journalist, and am normally reluctant to air my views on issues that affect my neighbourhood, but my mother and various neighbours are really upset about this and want me to raise the issue.

    Here’s the letter we posted (initially to SCAN, then to the Shankill Open Forum, where we were trolled and heckled until I decided to stop repeating myself because it was a waste of time):

    Dear Editor,

    We were dismayed to read that a group of “local representatives” got together and came up with a plan to destroy one of Shankill’s most charming and beautiful amenities: the grounds of Shanganagh Castle. Surely they are not representing the people of Shankill with their proposal to allow developers to build 340 houses in the grounds of the castle?

    While they have cunningly appealed to groups who might object (eg, promising that the allotments would remain, and that there would be sports facilities, and that 200 of the houses would be “social houses”), they are ignoring the wishes of the silent majority who are not part of any particular group and just like to enjoy the simple pleasure of going for a walk in the tranquil setting of the castle grounds, with no housing estate to disturb the peace or spoil the view – just the picturesque castle as a backdrop.

    This silent majority (who won’t raise the matter at residents’ association meetings for fear of antagonising the very vocal sports lobby and unsympathetic councillors), includes elderly people, families with toddlers who are too small for the playground in the park, and women who like to walk alone in safety. These are the people who avoid the vast park next door because parts of it are just fields (who in their right mind would go for a walk alone there?) and the rest of it is given over to boisterous sports activities, skateboarders, cyclists and people letting their dogs off the leash – and there are no wardens on duty to make it safe.

    Not only does our castle look like something out of a fairytale (as little children for generations have observed) – Shankill is clearly the “Cinderella” of the Southside. Imagine the outrage if houses were built in the grounds of Cabinteely House or Marley Grange? Our castle is far more beautiful than those two buildings.

    The cynical attempt to exploit the homelessness crisis does not wash, given the fact that most of these houses will be two-storeys, none will be higher than three-storeys and at least 140 of them will be private homes sold at exorbitant prices. If we really wanted to solve the homelessness crisis, we’d build high-rise apartment complexes suitable for families, such as the ones found in every major European city, closer to Dublin city centre – not out here in what was supposed to be a green belt.

    It does no favours for the environment either (again, high-rise in urban areas is the solution, not more suburban sprawl which was acceptable in the 60s and 70s but not now in these more enlightened times).

    Property values will also plummet if Shankill gets any more built-up. The reason people buy houses here is because it is a charming little village with a rural appearance – complete with a castle in its own grounds.

    Why not come up with a more creative plan for the Castle and its grounds? How about running arts and cultural activities in the grounds, such as our very own version of the Electric Picnic or a farmer’s market? This would draw visitors to the area, who would spend money in our local shops, pubs and cafes? Shankill deserves better than to become a sprawling dormitory suburb.


    Nancy and Geraldine Comiskey.


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