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Palmerstown International Protection Centre Plans

Rolling update on proposals for temporary accommodation for International Protection/Displaced Persons at Cherry Orchard Industrial Estate Palmerstown. First update 31st January 2024, followed by 7th February, 12th March, 1st April. This update 14th May.


May 14th Update

  • No new updates from Department to SDCC according to Question by my Council colleague Guss O'Connell

  • No correspondence received as of Area Committee meeting, 23rd April. There are no Area Committee meetings in May or June because of the local elections. No direct correspondence received from Minister either, so I will send a follow-up query in due course.


April 1 update


  • SDCC has declared the proposals planning exempt.


  • I had a motion passed to write to the Department seeking a meeting with elected reps and ultimately community stakeholders.


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Where is this?

On the old Skate Park site at Units 64 & 65, Cherry Orchard Industrial Estate, Palmerstown, which already has planning permission on appeal to An Bord Pleanala for 127 apartments. Myself, Cllr Guss O'Connell and others objected to this residential scheme on the basis of that application being over-scale in relation to the existing residential area, but this use was granted nonetheless.



Planning Issues


What is happening?

Tailored Projects Limited made two applications for Exemption to South Dublin County Council:


ED24/0002 sought to "Confirm that the temporary use of the building as overnight accommodation for displaced persons or persons seeking international protection is exempted development". See application documentation here: https://planning.agileapplications.ie/southdublin/application-details/65476


ED24/0003 sought to "Confirm that internal fit out works to the building are exempted development." See application documentation here: https://planning.agileapplications.ie/southdublin/application-details/65481



Image above is from the Section 5 Planning Statement carried out for Savills Commercial (Ireland) Ltd on behalf of Tailored Projects Ltd


Why was exemption being sought?

Planning permission was granted for apartments at this location. But under normal circumstances a change to the permission granted, even for some temporary purposes, may require a new planning application to a local Council and the potential of an appeal to An Bord Pleanala, causing lengthy delays, even if ultimately granted.


Some types of planning are exempt under normal regulations, but not what is proposed. However there is also a new - temporary - planning exemption CLASS 20F


This new Class of Exempted Development permits the change of use of the following structures for the purpose of providing the necessary facilities for international protection applicants:

“school, college, university, training centre, social centre, community centre, non-residential club, art gallery, museum, library, reading room, sports club or stadium, gymnasium, hotel, convention centre, conference centre, shop, office, Defence Forces barracks, light industrial building, airport operational building, wholesale warehouse or repository, local authority administrative office, play centre, medical and other health and social care accommodation, event and exhibition space or any structure or part of structure normally used for public worship or religious instruction.”

 

This provision is a temporary measure:

 

1. "The temporary use shall only be for the purposes of accommodating persons seeking international protection.

2. "The use shall be discontinued not later than 31 December 2024 [Paul note, unless Government extends]

3. "The relevant local authority shall be notified of locations where change of use is taking place prior the commencement of that change.

4. "‘international protection’, for the purpose of this class, has the meaning given to it in section 2(1) of the International Protection Act 2015 (No. 66 of 2015)."

 

Notification Requirement

"A planning authority must be notified in writing of the details of the development prior to the commencement of the proposed change of use" and this appears to be what has happened in relation to the Exemption applications to South Dublin County Council.


What was the decision of the Council?


South Dublin County Council decided that this is indeed Class 20F exempted development. Its planning permission for apartments does not appear to impact this as light industrial remains its current designation, even if the buildings are not currently being used.


See full responses here:


Chief Executives Order-6708771
.pdf
Download PDF • 267KB

And here:


Chief Executives Order-6708773
.pdf
Download PDF • 272KB


What other planning information is relevant

Separate to all this, any normal building control procedures still apply, so even though it has been granted exemption, the building will still have to comply with the usual building regulations.


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Community Issues


Who knew about this locally before the application was submitted?

Nobody. SDCC wasn't informed, Councillors and TDs weren't informed. Nobody in Palmerstown was informed.


However, it's clear from this letter attached with the Exemption applications, that the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) knew about these plans since at least July of last year.



It is very concerning that such proposals have not been brought to the attention of anyone in the community, at least to our knowledge.


How many international protection applicants are planned to be located at the building and when will this plan be implemented?

We don't know. It's unlikely the developer will give us that information, but if we get it through Council or other sources we will make the information available.


What about information from the DCEDIY?

This will be a challenge, given past track record. However it's likely that some information will be given in the coming weeks and closer to the date of any people being accommodated on-site. I will be requesting that the Palmerstown Community Council be kept in the loop and that other agencies and groups that worked well in Palmerstown during Covid should also be alerted.


Will Palmerstown have a veto on who goes into the building or how many?

No community has a veto, nor should it. And any discussion on asylum or immigration policy is part of a wider debate. However genuine local concerns need to be listened to and addressed.


Some things that come to mind initially include:


Future temporary residents

  • Ensuring the conditions and food offerings in the facility are adequate

  • Ensuring the facility is not overcrowded

  • Ensuring there is access to educational, healthcare, recreational, and other amenities

  • Ensuring language resources are put in place

  • Meaningful linkages and engagement with the local community

  • Meaningful things for people to do while their applications are being processed


Existing residents

  • Capacity of the community to cater for the needs of the temporary residents

  • Planned additional resources to be made available

  • Information on the timespan involved

  • Clarification on the precise number planned for the facility

  • The breakdown in terms of families and/or single male occupants

  • Communication channels with both management and residents in the facility

  • The active involvement of community groups


Palmerstown is a welcoming community. But people are entitled to express their concerns, ask questions and have their queries addressed adequately.


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Motion tabled by Cllr Paul Gogarty


MEETING OF LUCAN / PALMERSTOWN / NORTH CLONDALKIN AREA COMMITTEE

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

MOTION NO.3

MOTION: Councillor P. Gogarty

That this Committee writes to the Minister and officials at the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth seeking an urgent meeting with the elected members of the Lucan, Palmerstown and North Clondalkin Area Committee to discuss its plans in relation to units 64 & 65 Cherry Orchard Industrial Estate, Palmerstown and arrangements to be made for a wider engagement with the local community.

REPORT:

 If this motion is passed, a letter in this regard will be issued to the Minister at the Department Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth on behalf of the local area committee. The response, when received, will be circulated to the Members.


This motion was passed. It's likely we won't see a reply until at least the March 26th Area Committee meeting, but I will update as and when I get information.

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January 31st 2024

My letter to the Department of Youth and Children,


"Re: Plans to accommodate International Protection/Displaced persons at 64/65 Cherry Orchard Industrial estate, Palmerstown


"Dear Minister and relevant IPAS/IPPS personnel,


"It has come to the attention of elected representatives, following an application for Exempted Development by Tailored Projects Limited to South Dublin County Council recently, that IPAS has been planning for some time to set up an accommodation unit in these warehouses in Palmerstown.


"It is disappointing that the local community, including local Councillors, were not given any indication of plans in this regard and have only found out now, over six months later.


"Concerns have already been expressed in the information vacuum about the size of the facility, the capacity to provide for the full range of requirements for any large number of applicants being placed at this location and also what related impacts this may or may not have on the existing residents of Palmerstown and Ballyfermot. We need information and consultation as a priority.


"This location is directly adjacent to several housing estates and while there are retail facilities and a bus service within walking distance, no information has been made available in relation to what additional social, educational, recreational, medical and other additional amenities will be provided to make such accommodation workable, or how it will integrate with existing amenities. Nor have any dates of commencement been provided or likely timescale for its operation.


"I am now requesting as a matter of urgency that the process of communication and engagement with the local community begins. I understand that certain details may not yet be firmed up, but the sharing of information and preparatory works with local agencies needs to begin now.


"It is anticipated that SDCC will declare works at this site to be exempt, so time is running out for meaningful and constructive engagement where the community can be an active stakeholder and partner. I am therefore requesting a meeting to be arranged with Palmerstown Community Council, South Dublin County Council and the elected representatives in the first instance, with a view to a wider consultation forum at a later date.


"Trusting that this can be prioritised at the earliest opportunity."


Yours sincerely,


Cllr Paul Gogarty


Peace Commissioner

Member of South Dublin County Council

Tel: 087-2752489


Update 12th March 2024 - IPAS came back to say that queries should be made directly to the Minister, which I had already done. However the Minister's office has not isued a response to date. This is partially why I subsequently tabled a motion at Area Committee.


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SDCC angle


My Independent colleague Cllr Guss O'Connell, whom I work closely with, has been in contact with South Dublin County Council regarding any communications about these plans from the Department. He has also written to all the Councillors on the Lucan Palmerstown North Clondalkin Area Committee with a view to getting a coordinated approach. I did not feel the need to duplicate these efforts and so have concentrated my efforts for now on the Minister and Department sections responsible for this type of accommodation. We have no role in terms of the Council's adjudication of the Exemption request.


A joint statement was issued by Guss along with Cllr Alan Hayes about this plan on 31st January. I was involved in discussions regarding this statement but I did not revert with my final input in time. The information I have provided here is of similar vein in planning terms, but I felt it was important to also highlight my disappointment at the way the Department is withholding information and to communicate the need for more information to be provided as a matter of urgency. I will work constructively with all my Council colleagues to try and get as much information and engagement as possible.


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The wider context - No tolerance for racists and hate-peddlers


Supporting the need for consultation and engagement does not mean I subscribe to any racist drivel or "great replacement" conspiracy theories and I will not have anything to do with individuals peddling hatred, fear and misinformation.


Some tropes to look out for:


"They are letting unvetted people into the country" - anyone who applies for international protection is basically starting the vetting process. Under international agreements and obligations we have a duty of care to ensure that all fellow human beings who arrive here are treated with dignity and respect. People can argue about the pace of the process, or our capacity to cater for the numbers of applicants, but this has nothing to do with individual applicants on a human level.


"They are all economic migrants" - It is fair comment to say that some international protection applicants are economic migrants who are using the asylum process as a potentially easier way to come and work in Ireland. These people cannot be blamed for wanting a better life, but obviously from our perspective, the asylum process is not the appropriate mechanism. The Government has designated some countries as "safe" and speeded up the processing times for these. Again people have lots of different views on this, but even from safe countries there are individual cases where people need asylum so each application has to be vetted on a case by case basis. Many thousands of people who come to Ireland each year under international protection are fleeing persecution, war or famine and escaping these circumstances is their primary concern.


"They are all criminals": International protection applicants are no more likely to commit crime, assault or murder anyone than the general population. Anyone with a criminal record will be flagged via Europol, Interpol or other inter-agency co-operation.


"Military-age males" - There are slightly more males than females arriving in Ireland each year and there's a reason for this. The journey to Europe is often treacherous and much more dangerous for women and children. Males are less likely to be trafficked and often set out in the hope that they can reach safety to then bring their families over under family reunification. It's fair comment to question the number of single males being placed in any centre in a community without sufficient amenities and activities being organised. This is common sense whether they are Irish or from abroad. But they should not be dehumanized. My own preferred term is "Construction-age males" as I gather they would all be more than happy to work hard in Ireland in return for an honest day's pay.


"The great replacement" and the "great plantation" - Some of the extremists believe that globally, under the auspices of the WEF and other bodies, a range of international governments with vastly different types of systems, leadership and democratic values are all in cahoots and working under a well-planned scheme to replace white people in Europe with darker-skinned people. They see a lot of immigrants and put two and two together to get 20. It often gets tied in with antisemitic conspiracy theories that are now a century old, or more. The world is more chaotic and random than that. War and persecution prevails in many unfortunate corners of the world.


"Go back to your own country" - Anyone here who has received citizenship is Irish. Their children born here are Irish. And anyone who has residency here, or is an EU citizen is entitled to remain here and the vast majority are net contributors to our society. Most people of foreign extraction in Ireland have come here as immigrants as opposed to via the asylum process. They are doctors, nurses, engineers, first responders, IT professionals etc. They pay taxes and live peaceful lives. As do those who have been granted leave to remain here. Ireland has benefited hugely economically through immigration and has benefitted from diversity.


Yes, we have issues with housing and catering for our own many homeless. It is regrettable many born here feel the need to emigrate out of economic necessity, not out of choice. There is also a clear need to review and improve both our asylum and immigration policies, our processing speeds and response times. That's all fair comment. And while we also need to improve in so many other ways as a nation, we are still one of the safest, most temperate and friendliest countries to live in anywhere in the world. On an individual level let's ensure that everyone is treated with dignity and respect and that those people trying to spin hatred and fear to progress their agenda are kept in the margins where they belong.


ENDS

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