29 September, 2006

Shanganagh Castle for Sale

I think they're selling the family silver. Michael McDowell has put Shanganagh Castle in South Dublin on the market.

Growing up near Shankill we used to climb Katty Gallagher, all 912 feet high and look down on the lands between the Dublin Mountains and the sea. Between the village of Shankill and Bray were farms, and in the middle of it all was Shanganagh Castle. It was built in 1408 for the Lawless family.

Michael McDowell told me in a Dáil reply back in 2002: "Shanganagh Castle was opened in 1969 as an open detention centre for males aged between 16 and 21 years of age. The centre, which stands on grounds of 24 acres, has accommodation for 60 inmates. However, it has been increasingly difficult to identify young male offenders suitable for this type of open prison accommodation. Shanganagh Castle had an average offender occupancy of 30 inmates last year and this has fallen again this year, with only 16 inmates being detained there at present. In addition, the full implementation of the provisions of the Children Act, 2001, will mean that 16 and 17 years old inmates must be completely segregated in the prison system, resulting in a further drop in those offenders who might be found suitable for transfer to Shanganagh Castle, and was acquired by the State for young offenders in 1969.

He went on to say that it cost €127,000 to keep an offender there for a year, but that kind of a figure always sounds a bit odd. I'd have thought it would be a perfect location for young offenders. There's a farm attached to the lands, and what better location for young offenders than a place in the country, right beside a proposed DART station? Well, the guide price is €15m, but the Indo thinks it'll go for closer to €30 farm.

If young offenders lose out, how about offering it to first time buyers?
The agents CB Richard Ellis tell us that
"the site offers an excellent opportunity to construct a high quality residential development in a prime location, subject to the necessary planning consent... The proposed DART station at Woodbrook will undoubtedly ameliorate the sites potential even further."

It's a curious use of the word 'ameliorate' methinks, but perhaps modern English isn't on the curriculum in Property School.

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council has bought some of the lands at the front of the site but perhaps the Department of Justice could have offered the Castle and the 6 acres of grounds to Des Geraghty's Affordable Homes Partnership to assist first time buyers. There's also a need for more educational facilities in Shankill.

Maybe some canny investor will put a five star hotel on the site, but for the State to sell such lands all seems a bit short-sighted to me, particularly when the Council hasn't even finished drafting a Local Area Plan for the area.

10 September, 2006

Affordable Homes

Dear Minister Roche,

In past few weeks there has been much debate about affordable housing provision in Ireland.

I would like to bring a new idea to the debate.

I believe that the Government and specifically your Department should hold a manufacturing and design competition for affordable housing.

Such a competition would utilise the market to get the highest possible performance out of our construction industry.

The idea of the competition would be that your Department would call on housing designers and manufacturers to team up and come up with a high quality, sustainably constructed house design that could be produced for under €100, 000.

Such a competition was successfully run in the UK last year by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Unless we have fresh thinking on housing affordability I think that owning a home will soon cease to be a realistic ambition for many young people.

Please feel free to contact me to discuss my proposal further.

More information on the Department for Communities and Local Government can be seen on this website:

Best regards,


Ciarán Cuffe TD
Dún Laoghaire Green Party
Spokesperson for Environment, Heritage and Local Government”