Costello welcomes decision by An Bord Pleanala to reject development at St Paul's Cemetery Glasnevin
1 August 2018
"The decision by An Bord Pleanala(ABP) to reject the proposed development in St Paul’s Cemetery , Glasnevin for a chapel, a service block, 74 carparking spaces and reflective pools on the lands where thousands of people, mainly children, were buried during Famine times and in later decades, is most welcome.
"It was unconscionable that Dublin City Council granted permission for this development in November 2017. While the Glasnevin Trust had since bowed to public pressure to withdraw the proposal to build over the children’s graves, the planning permission would have remained in tact for up to five years and the proposal could have been renewed at any time.
"Thanks to the vigilance of Alan Harmon, the Bord Pleanala decision means that this cannot now happen.
"It was a total aberration to ever consider building a church and car-park on this burial site.
"The Glasnevin Trust which sponsored the project should landscape the site and establish it as an Angel’s Plot to commemorate the thousands of the poor children of Dublin who are buried there. "
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Submission by Joe Costello to An Bord Pleanala
15 January 2018
An Bord Pleanala
Re: Dublin City Council Application 3930/17: St Paul’s Cemetery, Claremont Lawns, Glasnevin D11
I wish to support the appeal lodged by Alan Harmon, Bourke’s Funeral Homes, in relation to the above application. While I understand that Glasnevin Trust have declared that they do not now intend to proceed with the construction given the sensitivities of the site and in view of local opposition to the development, it is important that An Bord Pleanala gives a definitive decision in relation to this development.
Dublin City Council refused permission for this same development in 2016 on the grounds that “the proposed development, by reason of the siting of a new building on a highly sensitive site consisting of a known and historic burial ground containing approximately 3,900 burials, is not considered appropriate having regard to Dublin City Council’s policy ‘to preserve known burial grounds and disused graveyards, where appropriate, to ensure that human remains are re-interred, except where otherwise agreed with the National Museum of Ireland’ (Policy CHC9, DCDP, 2016-2022).
The current application has not addressed the issues raised in the 2016 application and the reasons for the 2016 refusal are equally valid for this application. I also have concerns that the Dublin City Council evaluation omitted several key issues raised in Alan Harmon’s submission.
There is a dispute regarding the number of burials on the site in question. Dublin City Council have accepted without question the figure put forward by the Glasnevin Trust of 3,963 including 855 adults and 3,018 children. However, Alan Harmon has presented evidence to suggest that these figures represent less than 10% of the total number of people buried there and that the actual numbers buried are closer to 45,158 including 34,400 children.
It therefore seems somewhat disingenuous to suggest the piles could be driven through “empty graves” to facilitate the construction of the Church. Moreover, the proposed car-park over a large section of the site would cover thousands of graves of “some of the poorest citizens of Dublin in the early 20th century” (Archaeological Report). It would be completely insensitive and even heartless to build a chapel and car-park over the graves of thousands of Irish citizens who most likely had been badly-treated during their lifetime and would be completely erased in death.
Dublin City Council’s Environmental Health section recommended refusal of permission on the grounds that “to build on this land with the difficulty of avoiding damage to the burials there in the process of laying foundations, fails the due decency test”. The DCC assessment made no further reference to the Environmental Health Section’s assessment or their reason for overruling this recommendation.
Moreover, from the planning assessment it would appear that that opinion of the National Museum of Ireland was not solicited or offered despite the specific reference in the Dublin City Development Plan to securing agreement from the Museum if the exhumation of graves is not proposed.
While the Glasnevin Trust have now acknowledged that the proposal would meet with considerable opposition from the public (Irish Times, 3 January 2018) and have agreed not to proceed with the project, it is important that the matter is decided definitively.
I would therefore urge the Board to refuse permission for this development on the grounds that it is in complete contravention of the Dublin City Development Plan.
Labour Party Spokesperson on Urban Regeneration