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Councillors Call for Publication of Construction Costs Analysis

Research looking at how much Dublin City Council spends to build homes should be published, said three councillors at a meeting of the full council on 13 February.

Dublin City Council had commissioned the research from Seán O’Riordáin, an independent consultant who advises on local government and Ronan Lyons, the Trinity College Dublin economics assistant professor.

It found that the council splashes more cash to build homes itself than when it buys them from private developers.

The council spends more because of delays caused by public procurement and it often uses higher-quality materials than private-sector developers, according to a presentation to councillors on the housing committee on 9 November.

The presentation said that, on average, Dublin City Council spends more than €500,000 to build a two-bedroom apartment on its own land. And that’s significantly more than housing charities or private developers, the research found.

The cheapest new-build social homes, the presentation says, are the ones the council buys from private developers under legislation known as “Part V”, which allows councils to buy homes at a discount to use as social housing.

The research was commissioned amid a debate about the best way to provide social homes, whether the council should save its money to build more itself on public land or buy from private developers.

On 13 February, at the full council meeting, Fine Gael Councillor James Geoghegan said that councillors received a copy of the report but that it says it can’t be published. “On the very front page there is a disclaimer saying that it is commercially sensitive and that it will never be published.”

Geoghegan wants the report published and discussed in full at the next meeting of the housing committee, he said.

Fine Gael Councillor Naoise Ó Muirí said at the meeting that he too was surprised to hear that the report couldn’t be published.

How much did the council pay for the research to be done? he asked. “Are we going to find ourselves in a position that we have paid for research that for some reason we cannot publish? It’s a bizarre place to end up.”

Lyons said by email on 14 February, that he understood that the report would be published.

Dublin City Council didn’t respond in time for publication to queries sent by email Tuesday about whether the research will be published.

On 7 February, Dublin City Council refused a request under the Freedom of Information Act for all records examined in the research.

The council withheld 46 records that it said were relevant to the request, saying that they are commercially sensitive. But it released a schedule of records, which outlines the locations of some of the developments.

They include Dublin City Council regeneration projects for existing council flat complexes in the inner-city, including long-standing projects like Dominick Street, where work began in 2018. Rapid-build projects were also included.

Council Agrees New Procedures to Revoke the Freedom of the City

Councillors can grant the freedom of the city to people who have made an exceptional contribution to Dublin. Under new procedures agreed on Monday night, they can now revoke that honour easily too.

A decision to confer the freedom of the city or to revoke it requires a majority of two-thirds of the councillors, says a council report.

They shouldn’t hand out the freedom of the city routinely, says a report. “To preserve the value and significance of the Freedom of the City it should be preserved for truly exceptional individuals and should not be considered an annual event.”

In October 2017 the council discussed whether or not to take back the award from Aung San Suu Kyi, amid mounting worldwide revulsion at the massacres and ethnic cleansing of Rohingya people taking place in Myanmar – and her reaction.

After she had emerged as the leader of the National League of Democracy (NLD) during the late 1980s, Aung San Suu Kyi had spent 15 years under house arrest in Yangon, which until 2005 was Myanmar’s capital city.

The NLD challenged a murderous military junta that had ruled Myanmar for decades, and she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. When there were openly-contested elections in 2015, the NLD swept into power.

That left Suu Kyi as de facto head of government (she was legally barred from actually taking power), but the Myanmar Armed Forces still retained huge influence over internal politics.

Rather than condemning the violence and trying to stop it, Suu Kyi’s reactions ranged from saying nothing to complaining about “fake news”.

At the time there was some confusion about what the procedure was for Dublin city counciullors to take away her freedom of the city, as there was no precedent.

In November 2017, the singer Bob Geldoff handed back his scroll saying he didn’t want to share an honour with Suu Kyi. Then in December 2017 the council voted to remove both Geldoff and Suu Kyi from the honours list.

A report issued to councillors at Monday’s full council meeting clarifies the procedure for nominating and removing the freedom of the city.

The legislation doesn’t refer to any process to delete a name from the roll of honour or to reverse the process, says the report.

“Therefore, the ordinary statutory powers granted to the Members of the City Council to make, revoke or amend resolutions with regard to all of their reserved functions enables them to delete names from the Roll of Honorary Freedom of Dublin City if they so wish,” it says.

Laoise Neylon is a reporter for Dublin Inquirer. You can reach her at

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