Independent councillors removed from SDCC Progressive Alliance

by Mark O'Brien

A number of Independent councillors have been removed from the Progressive Alliance of South Dublin County Council following the debates on the Clonburris SDZ.

The Alliance was formed by the Sinn Fein group of councillors and also consisted of Labour, a number of Independents and one Green Party member.

The Alliance say that Councillors Paul Gogarty, Liona O’Toole and Guss O’Connell and Deirdre Donovan have been removed as they have “breached the trust of their Progressive Alliance colleagues and moved away from our agreed agenda”.

The move comes after the councillors supported a number of motions that removed 742 houses from the proposed plan.

Sinn Fein group leader on South Dublin County Council, Cathal King said a central agreement of the Alliance was the delivery of social and affordable housing.

He said the Independent councillors had not backed this agreement during the Clonburris debates.

“During the recent past, and specifically during the Clonburris SDZ process, it became abundantly clear that a number of the Independent Cllrs in this Alliance (Paul Gogarty, Guss O’Connell, Deirdre O’Donovan and Liona O’Toole) were not only working against the delivery of social and affordable housing, but were colluding with Fine Gael and Fianna Fail to block progress on the delivery of social and affordable housing,” he said.

He added that Cllrs Gogarty and O’Connell stated during the that they did not want to see the lands developed “at all”, a move that would result in SDCC being unable to deliver any meaningful social and affordable housing.

Cllr King said that the Alliance wanted to deliver an adequate supply of social and affordable housing, as well as improving transport and public transport infrastructure.

“Unfortunately Cllrs Gogarty, O’Connell, O’Toole and O’Donovan set their face against this balanced approach and used the process to limit the delivery of much needed social and affordable housing,” he said.

Cllr Liona O’Toole released a statement to Dublin Gazette in response to Cllr King’s claims.

She said: “I have always acted with integrity and honesty with members of the Progressive Alliance and it is regretful that Sinn Fein have attempted to use bully boy tactics for political gains and make statements to the media without first discussing their concerns or issues they may have had with my approach to the development of the Clonburris SDZ or my interaction with residents and other councillors.

“As an Independent community councillor, I have been engaging with a large number of Lucan residents and resident groups to allow me to represent their views through various motions on the SDZ development plan.”

She added that an agreed approach to housing was never discussed within the Progressive Alliance.

“Through the SDZ development meetings, it was clear that Sinn Fein want to stick to their political agenda and steam roll in housing at any cost with no consideration for infrastructure, amenities and sustainable development and only repeating the mistakes of the past,” she said.

Cllr O’Toole said the process resulted in “horrific attempts to discredit a number of public representatives” which overshadowed the discussions.

“It was difficult at times to contribute to such proceedings which was bordering on intimidation at times,” she said.

“I was at the entire 32 hours of SDZ meetings to plan an SDZ with the best possible outcome for the future of our county which needs to include infrastructure and facilities in conjunction with housing.

“The notion that ‘Infrastructure and amenities will follow’ will only lead to failed housing estates that we have seen over the last 40 years.

“As Sinn Fein and Labour could not see beyond their own policies the end result was accusations that Independents were blocking housing.

“I am on record supporting all types of housing including social and affordable housing but I want to see it delivered in a correct and sustainable way.

“The people of Lucan and Clondalkin deserve better than the repeat of past mistakes.

“I will not apologise for fighting for that and doing what’s in the best interests of the people I represent and not the political mantra of a political party.

“I certainly don’t feel intimidated by Sinn Fein and others, but I could not possibly consider staying in an Alliance with them any further after witnessing their attempts to intimidate and bully myself and other councillors directly in the chamber and through social media.”

Related Articles