De La Salle Park

A complex of 927 homes that Dwyer Nolan Developments Ltd is building on Ballyfermot Road should not be called De La Salle Park, two councillors say.

“De La Salle, as an institution, has an appalling record of sexual abuse and physical abuse that happened there and at their other properties,” said Right to Change Councillor Sophie Nicoullaud, at a meeting last Wednesday of the council’s South Central Area Committee.

She also conveyed the objection of independent Councillor Mannix Flynn, who wasn’t at the meeting, she said because she was at another one.

On the phone Monday, Flynn said, “It would be an absolute insult to the many people who were abused, both physically and sexually, by this organisation. This would be like renaming a road Jimmy Saville Way.”

The Lasallian District of Ireland, Great Britain and Malta did not respond to a query sent Monday about the councillors’ objections and Flynn’s comments.

The new development is being built on the former site of the De La Salle National School, which closed in 2019.

Former priest Tony Walsh, who was described in chapter 19 of the 2009 Report of the Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin, known as the Murphy Report, as “the most notorious child sexual abuser” to have come to the commission’s attention, was chaplain at the De La Salle school in Ballyfermot.

It is likely that “he abused hundreds of children”, according to the Murphy Report.

He was sentenced in 2010 to, in effect, 12 years for his abuse of one boy in Ballyfermot between 1978 and 1983. In 2022 he was sentenced to another four years for indecent assaults of three boys in the 1980s.

At the council committee meeting last Wednesday, other councillors supported at least a pause to look into the objections raised by Nicoullaud and Flynn to the proposed name of the new development.

“If this is correct, then I too would have grave reservations about naming any development after an institution that could be guilty of such crimes as this,” said Sinn Féin Councillor Daithí Doolan.

People Before Profit Councillor Hazel de Nortúin said similar.

Independent Councillor Vincent Jackson said, “I thought this was just going to be nodded through and I wouldn’t have had a difficulty with it. But the simple fact is you are correct, there were huge issues here.”

“I suppose the difficulty we have as a society is, there’s not a street that I go by in this community I live in, there’s not a block of houses and there isn’t something that has happened here the past,” he said.

Jackson said he’d be amenable, though, to delaying the issue to leave time for some consultation with the local community about how they’d feel about naming the development De La Salle Park.

Derek Kelly, the council’s director of services for the outer city, said he’d be fine with deferring the issue. But, Kelly said, approving or rejecting the name of a development really is not among councillors’ powers (not a “reserved function”) – it’s an “executive function”.

The procedure is that the developer brings the proposed name to the council, and the heritage officer signs off on it, and council executives make the final call, Kelly said.

A council report on the naming proposal said: “The Heritage Officer is satisfied that the proposed name is historically relevant to the location as it continues in use the name of the former school site which has strong social and cultural associations in Ballyfermot.”

Kelly said the council would talk to the developer about whether they’d be okay with changing to a different name, but they may already have started printing marketing materials.

Labour Councillor Darragh Moriarty said he thought the council should do more than ask the developer nicely to make the change. “Marketing materials can be reprinted if necessary,” he said.

On Monday, a council spokesperson said, “I can confirm we received an application from the architects for the development to name the development De La Salle Park but we have asked the architects to submit an alternative name.”

A woman who answered the phone at Dwyer Nolan Development on Monday afternoon said they had “no response” to a query on whether they would consider a different name for the housing complex.

Flooding in Drimnagh and Crumlin

Councillors on the South Central Area Committee agreed an emergency motion asking for an investigation, report and action plan to avoid future flooding caused by heavy rainfall in Drimnagh and surrounding areas.

The motion was proposed by Sinn Féin Councillor Daithí Doolan and seconded by Fianna Fáil Councillor Daithí de Róiste.

“We can’t simply say it’s climatic and walk away from any sense of responsibility,” Doolan said.

A thunderstorm on Tuesday 20 June, the day before the meeting, had poured intense rain on Drimnagh and Crumlin, flooding streets.

About 12mm of rain fell in just five minutes at the council’s rain gauge at the Crumlin recycling centre, according to a council report sent to councillors immediately after the flooding. “This event had a probability of occurrence of about once in 40 years,” it said.

“Crumlin and Drimnagh were developed in the 1930s/1940s to different drainage design standards,” the report says. But “even had the sewers here been installed to modern design standards, external (and possibly some internal flooding) would have been expected yesterday”.

The report said the council’s drainage section would carry out inspections of the sewer networks in Crumlin and Drimnagh “to see if there are any defects or areas of sediment/deposition which may have impaired these systems”.

“Separately, a more detailed report will be prepared in the coming weeks and months to set out the issues involved in … the adaptation and mitigation measures necessitated by Climate Change,” the report said. “This is a much wider issue than this local event.”

The report also noted that “Over the years a large number of front gardens have been paved over for off-street parking and numerous extensions/patios built”, as well as infill development. This has all reduced the number of places the rain can seep into the ground, which has increased “both the frequency and severity of localised flooding”.

“As Climate Change progresses, and if no mitigation/adaptation measures are implemented, the situation can only deteriorate,” the report says.

Residents of Mourne Road, which often floods, said last year that they wanted to install “tree pits” in the footpaths to leave some unpaved ground around trees where rain could soak in, and take a little of the burden off the sewer systems and help to reduce future flooding.

Doolan asked for a report offering a course of action to avoid future flooding, and Derek Kelly, the council’s director of services for the outer city, said the council would survey the sewers looking for faults and he’d bring back that report to the committee.

“A massive upgrade of the entire network in there is a massive, massive undertaking and whether that’s technically doable is not something I can answer, that would be something that our drainage and water services people would have to tell us about,” he said.

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