‘Your building can fall into a hole and you get €45,000’: Dartmouth Square residents object to Metrolink

Scale and magnitude of the ground movement excessive for the nature and age of buildings, engineer says

Residents’ objections to the Metrolink rail line are not based on “not in my backyard instincts”, a chartered planner and surveyor representing Charlemont and Dartmouth community groups has told a planning hearing on the project.

Jerry Barnes, director of MacCabe Durney Barnes, said the residents were reliant on An Bord Pleanála to “protect their amenities and property and the common good”.

He also said there was the potential for “very significant damage” to properties, which would not be covered by the compensation scheme, also known as the property protection scheme, of up to €45,000 being offered by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), the State body with responsibility for Metrolink.

“€45,000 – what can I say on behalf of the residents?” Mr Barnes asked the hearing on Monday. “You might get wallpapering done.”


Mr Barnes also said that “your building can fall into a hole and you could get up to €45,000”. He said the residents’ case was based on “real and valid issues” in relation to planning amenities, sustainable urban transport and environmental protection.

TII representatives said the property protection scheme was to deal with minor cosmetic damage to the buildings themselves and to give assurances to residents. They said they were not predicting the level of damage being anticipated by Mr Barnes and the community groups and believed the analysis carried out by their own experts was “sound”.

Mr Barnes said certain elements of the project were “poorly conceived” and failed to achieve the “appropriate balance” of what was in the common good of property owners and delivering key infrastructure for the State.

Paul Quigley, a geotechnical engineer and director at Gavin & Doherty Geosolution, also representing the residents’ groups, said the scale and magnitude of the ground movement predicted by TII were excessive for the nature and age of buildings surrounding Charlemont Square.

Mr Quigley said they were concerned that more site specific analysis and risk management strategy for damage wasn’t available “at this stage of the project”.

The 18.8km rail line is planned to run from north of Swords to Dublin Airport, then on to Ballymun, Glasnevin, O’Connell Street and St Stephen’s Green before terminating at Charlemont, with 16 stations along the route.

Metrolink Dublin Olivia Kelly feature

The journey from Swords to Dublin city will take approximately 25 minutes. The project is currently estimated to cost €9.5 billion.

Conor O’Donnell, a geotechnical engineer and managing director of AGL Consulting, gave evidence on behalf of Irish Life earlier and said an impact assessment did not include a building constructed in recent years along the proposed line.

Mr O’Donnell said there had been a “glaring omission” in the plans, because the Irish Life Cadenza building was not included in Metrolink’s impact assessment report, with the Davitt House building, which was previously in the location, instead included.

He said the Cadenza building reached practical completion in October 2022 and it would have been “very evident” there was a new building under construction at the site when assessments were taking place.

An Bord Pleanála’s planning hearing into Metrolink, which began last month, is scheduled to last about six weeks, with more than 120 of the 318 parties who made submissions on the application intending to address it.

These include residents and businesses affected by the route, politicians, campaign groups, heritage bodies and State agencies.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times