Vote on Magdalene Laundry sale adjourned by Dublin council

A vote on the sale of the Sean McDermott Street Magdalene Laundry has been adjourned until September 13.

Social Democrat councillor Gary Gannon tabled an emergency motion to prevent the sale of the Dublin site to a Japanese hotel chain.

Mr Gannon argues that as the last Magdalene Laundry of its kind still in the possession of the state, it should not be sold off for commercial interest.

A Dublin City Council meeting on Monday ran out of time to hold the vote as Mayor Nial Ring attempted to calm councillors angry about the proposal to hold the vote in the final minutes.

In the six minutes left to debate the sale, Mr Gannon declined to speak to save time, but thanked victims and survivors of the Magdalene Laundries in the public gallery.

“People who travelled here, and who illuminated the darkest corners of abuse in this country,” he said.

Janice Boylan, of Sinn Fein, tabled an amendment although she said the party fully supported Mr Gannon’s motion.

“We are completely and utterly opposed to the proposal, and we have stated this from day one.

“We have worked closely with survivors and listened attentively to them and worked with residents.

“We believe an appropriate memorial to the Magdalene women should be the centrepiece of the site.”

The amendment added that the site should be used for social and affordable housing and other needs of the local community.

The Green Party’s Ciaran Cuffe said there may be more than one option as the site’s size could manage more than one development.

“It’s important we get it right, we listen to survivors and listen to what they would like to see.

“The site is a large one and there may well be space for many different uses for the site.

“Many want to see a memorial but they also want to see housing, and there may be space for a hotel and for jobs to be created, and local people trained.

“What we do need is a plan. Let’s see what the community want and architect comes up with before we decide.”

Fine Gael councillor Ray McAdam was the first to voice real opposition to the motion to stop the sale.

“I think Gary’s motion is pre-emptive for two reasons. We still do not have a firm proposal. Secondly, in your own inaugural address, Lord Mayor, you agreed to establish a working group, of which only one meeting has taken place.

“We said we’d have a recommendation after the working group had a chance to deliver one. I think we should not be agreeing this motion and allow for full debate.”

Tina MacVeigh, of the People Before Profit Alliance, proposed the councillors vote to ensure it could be held before the end of the meeting, which was met by further debate.

Independent councillor Mannix Flynn could be heard shouting: “This is outrageous.”

Mr Ring attempted to stop the chatter and said repeatedly: “There will be no vote because people won’t stop talking.”

Deirdre Ni Raghallaigh, the senior executive officer for the council, called time on the meeting, telling councillors they could not vote, and it would be voted on in the next meeting on September 13.

Japanese hotel chain Toyoko Inn is the preferred bidder for the site. Its plans include a 35-bed hotel with a meeting room, restaurant and bar, 140 studio apartments, 10 residential units and a car park.

It also plans to convert the chapel into a gallery or event centre, a community centre to the rear and a supermarket.

- Press Association

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