Thursday, 21 January 2010

McHughs - Recent Updates

A number of local residents have been in touch asking for updates on the McHugh's site, now entering its seventh year of dereliction. While I welcome the limited shopping facilities on offer in the new Traders Off-Licence, facts are that our neighbourhood centre remains a derelict eyesore. McHugh's has been my number one priority on the Council and I have been working with a wide group of people to ensure appropriate development at the site to provide the community facilities we need - as well as safeguarding the future of the site with a new Specific Local Objective in the County Plan.

Below are my most recent updates on McHugh's from my December, November and September local newsletters.


December 09 Update...

I have been unrelenting in promoting our campaign to reclaim the derelict McHugh’s site for our local community. It is almost seven years now since the old shopping arcade was destroyed by fire and local people remain rightly furious over the lack of appropriate development at the site and the increasingly-bad eyesore left behind. The graffiti around the site has become worse in recent months and the site was a huge fire hazard over Hallowe’en, when I liaised with the Gardaí to ensure that the opening of the site would not lead to a potentially dangerous bonfire. Following my queries at Council level I have established that there are now plans by McHugh to scale down the current planning permission for the site, which was granted in April 2007 and will last until April 2012. My understanding is that the revised plans, which are still being drawn up, will include fewer apartments along with offices, a restaurant and a couple of retail units along with a mini-supermarket. While I would welcome any serious plan to provide decent services on the site, I will not support any unrealistic proposals or ones which are not likely to get built.

The good news is that, through my own motion for the County Development Plan which was agreed by the Council, any future plans for the site will only be permitted to include community facilities and appropriate commercial services for local residents – the scare stories promoted by those with questionable agendas as to what might go into the site should be nipped in the bud. Both myself and Pat Rabbitte TD will continue to promote what Labour believes is the best option – a Council-led Compulsory Purchase of the site, and subsequent community-led development – in the months ahead.


November '09 Update

Cllr Dermot Looney continues to lead the fight to restore the old McHugh’s site which should be providing an important neighbourhood centre for local people. The lack of progress from the developer and the ongoing dereliction continues to cause grave concern across Greenhills. Dermot has secured the community nature of the site in the long term with a Specific Local Objective now in place in the County Development Plan that the site can only be used for appropriate community and local services, and no other purposes.

Cllr Dermot Looney adds:

“In response to the pressure put on by our community, the Council Management finally placed a fine on McHugh of €60,000 a year under the Derelict Sites Act. However the owner has still not paid the levy and now the Council’s Law Department is pursuing the matter through the courts. Against the background of the government’s €54 Billion NAMA bailout of the banks and developers, the cost of acquiring our derelict neighbourhood centre site is modest indeed – and I will fight to ensure the money collected from McHugh is used for our community services.”

September '09 Update

6 years on, and the derelict former site of the McHugh’s Shopping Centre on St James’ Road continues to be the major issue for residents of Greenhills and Limekiln. After a campaign launched by Dermot Looney last year, the site was
eventually entered onto the Derelict Sites Register by the Council and the developer,
Sean McHugh, was fined for breaches of planning enforcement regulations. The Council are now pursuing the developer through the courts following his refusal to pay a levy issued for the dereliction.

“I have embarked on a number of measures in recent weeks to attempt to recover this site for the Greenhills community,” said Cllr Looney. “In the short term, I have made an enforcement complaint as to the use of the site for storing building material and vehicles. I have also sought to have the appropriate development of the site included as a ‘Specific Local Objective’ of the County’s Development Plan and have asked Council officials to prepare a report on a Compulsory Purchase Order or other mechanisms to take over the site. Winning won’t come easy in this campaign - but with the togetherness of local residents, we will succeed,” noted Cllr Looney.


You'll also find a number of posts on this blog related to McHugh's by going to

Monday, 18 January 2010

Press Release: Local Cllr and Teacher Slams Further Special Needs Cuts

Cllr Dermot Looney, a Labour Party representative on South Dublin County Council and primary schoolteacher, has said that reports of Government plans to axe hundreds of Special Needs Assistant posts are worrying in the extreme. Looney, a fifth class teacher in St Dominic’s School in Tallaght, has said that reports of direct cuts revealed in last week’s Irish Independent come on top of a review of SNA places which is reported to seek cuts of 1200 posts out of 17000 part- and full-time positions nationwide.

The review, announced in March, was followed by proposals from ‘An Bord Snip Nua,’ the cuts body chaired by right-wing economist Colm McCarthy, which proposed cutting 2000 full-time SNA’s.

“Special Needs Assistants are as crucial to modern Irish education as teachers or other staff,” noted Cllr Looney. “I have worked in schools across Tallaght and the wider area and know the amazing work carried out with special needs children by these committed and professional staff. Parents, children, teachers and all the other stakeholders in our education system are now distraught with news that SNA’s across Ireland are under threat, compounded by the ensuing disruption to pupils caused by lost places in the middle of the academic year.”

“Low-paid SNA’s were hit with huge cuts in take-home pay under Budget 2010. Now the threat of thousands of jobs being lost means the myth of public sector job security, often the jeer of conservative commentators, is blown apart.”

“The impact on special needs children and their classmates will be similarly vicious. Cuts in special needs classes, teachers, resources and now SNA’s point to a government stuck back in time with notions of huge classes and no staff beyond the classroom teacher. The hedge-school mentality of Batt O’Keeffe and the Government has no place in an Ireland where special needs children have an absolute right to support from teachers, SNA’s and other staff and resources.”

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Press Release: Looney: Burst Pipes Should Not Be Stalking Horse For Water Charges & Privatisation

Cllr Dermot Looney, a Labour Party representative on South Dublin County Council, has said that the recent disruption to water supplies should not be used as an excuse to introduce water charges or the privatisation of water services. Looney was commenting as local residents entered their second week of disrupted supplies, with residents Dublin 12, 6w and 24 suffering lengthy disruptions due to burst pipes on top of reduced pressure and the turning off of water during off-peak times.

Looney is leading the campaign on the Council against the implementation of domestic water charges which he says will be a double tax on working people. His motion to the Council in November, opposing water charges and favouring conservation measures, won support from all parties on the Council with the exception of Fianna Fáil. Now the Tallaght Central Councillor has said that arguments for water charges being advanced during the current water crisis are “opportunistic and cynical.”

“The problems sustained across the Dublin region as a result of burst water pipes and the ensuing problems with pressure and difficulty sustaining reservoir levels have led to considerable difficulties for local people,” said Looney.

“As a result I have had an unprecedented amount of calls, emails and other contacts from residents in my local electoral area – particularly the communities of Fernhill (Manor Estate), Cherryfield (Walkinstown) and Greenhills in Dublin 12, and parts of Dublin 6w. Local people were particularly concerned with the lack of information provided and the failure of the Council to deal with direct phone calls to the main switchboard in Tallaght or the emergency number in Deansrath in the early part of last week. Therefore, throughout last week I endeavoured to keep people informed of the updated status of water supplies and burst pipes through Facebook and Twitter, as well as more conventional methods – with an excellent response.”

“Having spoken to senior engineers I am aware that it may be a matter of weeks if not months before water supplies are restored to normal levels. Local people are entitled in the short-term to more accurate information on pressure reduction and pipe repairs, as well as to solutions in the medium- and long-term. Although South Dublin has a better record of water retention than other local authorities, we still lose a fifth of our water supply through leaking pipes and are badly affected by neighbouring counties with whom we share the water network who lose more. If we are serious about water conservation, the Government should enable a major scheme of pipe and network repair across the country, giving a boost to jobs as well as ultimately saving money.”

“But we should beware of those who seek to exploit the current water problems as a means to introduce a regressive water tax which would hit working people, the unemployed and those at the margins of society the hardest. Fianna Fáil and the Greens have already made it clear that they want to hit people who already pay for water through general taxation with an additional water charge. Such a departure will be viewed as a tasty opportunity for profit by large multinationals who will lick their lips at the drip-drip to water privatisation. The experience both in Ireland, in terms of waste charges, and abroad in general, is of taxes first, followed by privatisation, followed by worsening services and asset-stripping.”

"In spite of support for water charges from conservative parties, commentators and interest groups, I will continue to lead the opposition to water charges and privatisation in our communities and in the Council Chamber in the months ahead.”

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Press Release - Looney Calls for Decency on Delayed Bin Collections

Cllr Dermot Looney, a Labour Party representative on South Dublin County Council, has called on the Council to respond fairly to those with extra waste from the Christmas and New Year period due to delayed bin collections and icy conditions. The Tallaght Central Councillor made the call as some households faced a third week without bin collections due to Christmas scheduling and the cancellation of routes due to bad weather.

“I have been contacted by a number of local people whose waste no longer fits in their grey bins due to these cancellations,” noted Looney. “I have also received reports that bin crews, who are doing an otherwise admirable service during these icy conditions, have informed householders that they will not take any bags or other waste outside the grey bin, and are advising local people to go to the Ballymount Civic Amenity where it costs an extra €15.”

“With roads so treacherous all week, this course of action is not possible for many residents. The pile-up of rubbish for so long is a potential health hazard and a great inconvenience to the householders concerned. On foot of my representations, the Council have informed me that they are prioritising uncollected routes for sanding on Friday January 8th to ensure collections. Furthermore, I have asked the Environmental Services Department to advise bin crews to consider taking extra waste on routes which have been previously cancelled. This one-off solution is an appropriate measure in the circumstances."