Bartra Capital developers play monopoly with Ballsbridge block

Greens clash with Simon Coveney ... and Conor McGregor

Do not get into a game of Monopoly with solicitor Noel Smyth or Richard Barrett of Bartra Capital. The property developers have been locked in a tortuous battle to gain control of Ardoyne House in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 for several years with a view to redeveloping the prime real estate. The 1960s-built block was one of the first high rises in Dublin, climbing to 12 storeys. In 2015 the scheme’s management committee voted to approach a developer to seek help revamping the ageing building. Bartra expressed interest, with Barrett’s company offering to buy all 46 units, but the plans stalled because the apartments’ owners, many of them retirees or investors, couldn’t agree on a deal.

Undeterred, Bartra has been buying up apartments and garages in the block since then and now owns about eight of the 46 units. To complicate matters, Smyth has also been buying up units. After securing two in recent months, he now has control of about 15 units in the development, along with almost as many garages. He has also outflanked Bartra on the board of the property’s management committee – two members are employees of Smyth’s Fitzwilliam Real Estate, while his daughter, Alannah, is now Ardoyne House Management Ltd’s secretary.

Another two units converted into one large apartment – numbers 73 and 74 – recently came on the market for €1.4m through Knight Frank. Will Smyth or Barrett be able to resist a roll of the dice?

Cloudy outlook for Danny Healy-Rae

Danny Healy-Rae is not a huge fan of Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), complaining in the Dáil several times that there would be less flooding if farmers were allowed to clear out the banks of rivers but that many are afraid to do so because of the “almighty power” of IFI. “There are farmers right around the country being threatened that if they take one spoon of gravel or silt out of the river they would lose their single-farm payment. That is blackmail,” he said on one occasion.


He may be even less enthused about them now. The Kerry TD’s company, Sunville Construction, is seeking retention permission from Kerry County Council for a quarrying operation at Rossacroo, near Kilgarvan, Co Kerry that it has been operating since 2019. Last week IFI wrote to the council raising concerns about the quarry’s possible impact on the catchment area of the Caragh river, “an extremely important salmonid water”.

The piping of the watercourse in the quarry was not done in consultation with IFI or with its agreement, the submission states. There was no assessment of its impact on “loss of habitat, invertebrate drift, or fish migration, including eels”. It also raised concerns about the capacity of the quarry’s “silting pond” to “accommodate ongoing quarrying operations and mitigate climate change”.

Don’t they know that climate change has nothing to do with mankind as “only God above can control the weather”, as Danny once memorably said.

Baggage handling

Declan Kelly “doesn’t know planes, but he knows disasters” was the pithy headline on a New York Post story last week about the PR guru “quietly helping troubled manufacturer Boeing” in the search for its next chief executive.

The collaboration makes sense, though, when you think about it. Both Tipperary-native Kelly and Boeing were on an upward trajectory before hitting sudden turbulence. Boeing is under close scrutiny after a fuselage panel blew off a nearly new 737 Max 9 shortly after take-off earlier this year, while Kelly is still trying to shake off accusations of getting drunk and behaving “inappropriately towards some women and men” at a VIP fundraiser in May 2021.

Green not always for go

Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan has been insisting he is not opposed to data centres in recent weeks after a row at Cabinet last month with Simon Coveney. The dispute arose when Ryan suggested that Government policy be tweaked to block new data centres without their own carbon-neutral sources of energy, with Coveney pointing out “forcefully” that this had not been agreed at Cabinet.

The Clare branch of the Green Party seems to be on the same page as Ryan. It has pledged to take a judicial review against An Bord Pleanála’s decision to grant a huge 200 megawatt data centre on 145 acres in Ennis because its primary power source will be gas.

Challenging Conor McGregor

The Green Party is not just opposed to data centres. It’s also not to keen on Conor McGregor’s plans to build a hotel in Howth with a roof terrace for guests overlooking the harbour. Cllr David Healy of the party, who is also a special adviser to Eamon Ryan, is among the locals objecting to the MMA fighter’s boutique lodgings.

While most of the locals are aghast at the possibility of late-night partying on the roof terrace, Healy is more concerned by McGregor’s plans to demolish the existing building on Church Street and replace it with a new structure, which he points out is not in keeping with the local development plan.

We don’t think the party will be losing a voter in McGregor, who likes to post pictures of himself on social media aboard private jets as frequently as possible.

Ah jaysus

Irish Wish, the cringeworthy Lindsay Lohan romcom, has become an unlikely hit for Netflix, according to Hollywood industry magazine Variety, despite leaving no Irish cliche unturned. The “sleeper hit” was the overall top-streamed title worldwide on Netflix for the week of March 18th to 24th. To add insult to injury, it also benefited from the Section 481 tax break, receiving between €2 million and €5 million in taxpayers’ money.

Sure isn’t there a crock of gold at the end of every rainbow in Ireland – if you’re a streaming behemoth.

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