Aontú candidate agreed €10,000 for association to end blockade of social housing development

An Aontú local election candidate received €10,000 to his personal bank account – on behalf of a residents’ association – for ending a blockade of a social housing development in north county Dublin.

Candidate for Blanchardstown-Mulhuddart Robbie Loughlin is chairperson of the Lanesborough Residents Association, which in September 2018 blocked builders from finishing a road leading to a newly built development of 21 social homes in Meakstown.  

The developer agreed to provide residents with a new cycle entrance and a speed ramp – and pay €10,000 to Robbie Loughlin’s bank account. He received the money in early 2019, several months after the association ended its protest. When asked by The Ditch if he would use his personal account again in similar circumstances, Loughlin said, “No, absolutely not, no.”

Robbie Loughlin told The Ditch residents “collectively” decided on accepting the payment, which he says was distributed to residents of Lanesborough Gardens. “I myself made no financial gain from that,” he said. 

“It wasn't my money, it was the community money,” he said.“Some people got cash and others benefited from the money because it was spent,” adding some of these funds were spent on “flowers, plants, maintaining the area”.

‘One of the residents put CCTV on his home’

On 26 September, 2018, residents from the Lanesborough area obstructed engineers building an entrance for a new 21-house social development that would cut through their cul-de-sac, according to correspondence seen by The Ditch.

That afternoon the Lanesborough Residents’ Association Facebook page, managed by Aontú candidate Robbie Loughlin, urged "bodies, cars, anything" to halt works on the site. Several residents who then showed up sat on a wall that was set to be demolished, preventing construction work.

The residents’ association subsequently blocked construction workers and engineers from working on the site. The blockade continued until 9 October, when Loughlin, acting on behalf of the association, agreed to end it.

Part of the agreement was that the developer would install a gate on the pedestrian/cycle entrance to St Margaret’s Road. The developer would also install a speed ramp on Lanesborough Gardens.  

Loughlin also agreed a €10,000 payment. 

In early October a spokesperson for the developer contacted Loughlin to outline the terms of a €10,000 payment to Lanesborough Residents Association, with the condition that it would, partly, secure the conclusion of the association's protest. 

Loughlin responded the same day to agree to the terms. 

In early January correspondence between the same pair confirms the payment was made. 

Loughlin told The Ditch the money was spent on several “community events” and distributed to several residents of Lanesborough Gardens, one of whom bought security cameras for their home. 

“One of the residents put CCTV on his home, which is still there,” he said. 

As well as this, the money was spent “on community events and things like that, so a lot of people wouldn't have directly received money – things were paid for, for events that they attended,” he said.

Loughlin also acknowledged that Lanesborough residents outside of Lanesborough Gardens didn't know about the payment.

He also told The Ditch that several residents were subject to a High Court order, meaning they would have had to end their protest. When asked why a developer would make a donation to people ending their protest anyway, Loughlin said, “You’d have to ask him.”

Loughlin said he didn’t benefit personally.

“I didn't spend on anything. It wasn't my money, it was the community money,” he said. 

“I made no personal benefit from that, not a thing,” he said, before adding that he would conduct himself differently were he to be in the same situation again. 

“I mean, look, I would do things differently now, obviously,” he said.                                                    

The Ditch editors

The Ditch editors