Dublin Dockland to be developed - But Who will benefit?


The Dublin Docklands, from Ringsend to Sheriff Street, are starting a very major re-development which will take place over the next fifteen years. A Master Plan has been produced and a Dublin Docks Development Authority (DDDA) set up. Already the property developers are in the area buying up the land, a lot of which is owned by state and semi-state companies.

The kinds of developments which are planned are for financial services and high-tech industries, lots of yuppie apartments and houses, hotels, pubs, restaurants, a marina and other places of entertainment for the rich. The question is how are the local working class community going to get something out of this development for a change?

The history of other developments such as the London docklands and Temple Bar, for example, is that the local working class community is squeezed out in the interests of the capitalists. The price of housing is forced up and they can't afford to live in the community their families have lived in for generations. The jobs that are created go to better educated people from outside the community and the locals are lucky to get the office cleaning and car parking jobs.

The DDDA has a community consultative committee made up of community representatives from the different parts of the docklands. This group have managed to negotiate local labour and local housing clauses in the face of fierce resistance from the developers and the rest of the Docklands Authority. 20% of incoming jobs are to be reserved for local inner city residents and 20% of the new housing is to be social housing.

This is a big move forward from past developments but is only the beginning of a process which could bring benefits to working class people for a change.

Already it is clear that it will be difficult to find enough local people with the skills to take 20% of the jobs being created. This is the legacy of generations of serious neglect of inner city communities in terms of education, jobs, housing and social supports. The result of writing off these communities is seen clearly in the heroin problem.

On the housing front too, Dublin Corporation is very unlikely to build enough houses to cover the 20% clause, leaving these agreements more in the realm of empty promises.

Unless the aspirational promises set out in the Master Plan can be changed into realities in terms of jobs, housing, real training and a decent environment for local people, this development will benefit only the rich developers and their equally rich friends in business.

Local people will find themselves in poorly paid, low skilled work; in overcrowded houses surrounded by the rich in fancy apartments and houses with security gates to keep the natives out. They won't be able to afford the expensive clubs and restaurants which will take the place of their local pubs. It will require more than polite requests to ensure that this scenario does not happen.

Patricia McCarthy

This article is from Workers Solidarity No 54 published in June 1998