Use of Public-Private Partnerships Criticised

Community and political groups today criticised the continuing use of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) to fund the building of civic and residential developments. Speaking at a protest held alongside the opening of the €300m Criminal Courthouse in Dublin’s Parkgate Street, Eddie Conlon of the People Before Profit alliance dismissed the use of PPPs as “part of a neo-liberal agenda”. Conlon contrasted the new courthouse development with conditions in nearby residential areas. 

(Picture: protesters outside the new criminal courts in Dublin)

According to a 2004 report produced for the Central Bank & Financial Services Authority, PPPs were an attractive option for government as “expenditure on a PPP project can be considered as a non-government outlay, and therefore will not affect the General Government Balance in the same way as normal government investment expenditure”. 

“A key factor in the development of PPPs was the concern about levels of debt” added Conlon. 

“This courthouse is being built to process people and put them in jail basically. Not far up the road in O’Deveney Gardens there is a set of flats that the government has promised to regenerate, yet we are still waiting. The priorities of this government are not to meet the needs of ordinary people, but to put them in jail”. 

The development of O’Deveney Gardens was to be funded by a PPP involving property developer Bernard McNamara, but the project collapsed in 2008. Although Dublin City Council approved the development proposals of a special taskforce appointed to examine the O’Deveney Gardens development, community workers are not satisfied with progress to date.

“People living five minutes from the new court development are living in appalling conditions” local community worker Rita Fagan claimed. “Their maintenance isn’t being done, there are water leaks in their bedrooms, they have no hope of getting out of O’Deveney Gardens. There is real injustice in that the judges have lovely roof gardens to enjoy, and people from communities like O’Deveney gardens are sent to prison in the same building”

(Picture: President McAleese at the opening ceremony)

“All the residential projects have effectively stopped” added community worker John Bissett. “They are now proposing that the projects are to be done over a period of 7-12 years. Initially the developments were to be finished in the next 2-3 years. The method that they use, which is the same method used to construct the new courts building, completely collapsed when it was applied to housing because it was completely the wrong way to do the project. The developers saw the housing projects as a cash-cow. And when it didn’t work for them, McNamara made a statement that there wasn’t enough money in it. They were his words”. “The state should have built in a guarantee that no matter what happened, the projects would have been finished. The conditions in O’Deveney gardens are beyond belief, you wouldn’t believe how people are living in them”.

(Picture: Protesters are angry at the appalling conditions in  O’Deveney Gardens, just minutes from the new €300m courthouse)

Photos: Alan Rowlette (