Victory for people power in battle to protect St Michael's Hospital
Richard Boyd Barrett of the People Before Profit Alliance has welcomed Dun Laoghaire Rathdown-County Councils' decision to refuse planning permission to developer Noel Smyth for an 8-storey apartment block on the site of a car park used by St Michael's hospital. He said the decision was a “victory for people power and the campaign launched by the People Before Profit Alliance to protect the hospital”
The Council's decision follows months of campaigning by the People Before Profit Alliance against moves by developer, Noel Smyth, to gain control of land around St Michael's hospital and the hospital itself for private commercial development.
Smyth had acquired the car park in recent years from its owners, the Sisters of Mercy, and much of the land surrounding St Michael's public hospital. He then approached the managers of the public hospital, the St Vincent's Healthcare Group, with a view to buying that site and thus gaining control of a continuous block of property in central Dun Laoghaire for high-rise apartment and commercial development.
Richard Boyd Barrett and the People Before Profit Alliance launched their campaign to protect St Michael's hospital when it emerged in April this year that Noel Smyth and the SVHG were holding discussions about a possible sale and re-location of the hospital.
Over the last number of months the campaign had gathered thousands of signatures on a petition, held one of the largest public meetings ever in Dun Laoghaire and organised a street demonstration of over 600 people.
Richard Boyd Barrett said:
“This is a very important victory in our campaign to secure the future of St Michael's hospital at its current location. The nursing home car park is an essential part of the hospital, as both staff and patients use it. If Noel Smyth got away with building an apartment block on the site it would put pressure on the St Vincent's Healthcare Group to sell him the hospital site itself.
When it emerged earlier this year that Smyth had bought a lot of the land around the hospital and was in discussions with the SVHG about a possible sale of the hospital site itself, we responded quickly, organising a huge public meeting and a large demonstration.
The Council decision is a victory for the hundreds of people that joined our protest on the streets of Dun Laoghaire in July. It shows, once again, that people power and protest can win out against big business interests that threaten our facilities and amenities.
The People Before Profit Alliance were also the only political organisation to lodge an objection to Noel Smyth's plan for an apartment block on the nursing home car park site when he lodged his application.
However, the battle to secure the future of St Michael's hospital is not over. Noel Smyth will almost certainly lodge an appeal to An Bord Pleanala, so we need to keep up our campaign.
Over the coming weeks we will be distributing thousands of postcards to local residents addressed to our local councillors, calling on them to re-zone the St Michael's hospital site and car park for “hospital use only.” The politicians have the power to safeguard the hospital and force Noel Smyth to sell the car park St Michael's if they vote for this re-zoning. We intend to make it fully clear to them that is what the public want them to do.
As well as protecting the existing hospital we will also be campaigning that its facilities are upgraded and expanded to meet the health needs of this area. Getting the car park site back from Noel Smyth will be vital if we are to achieve this.”