Saturday 17 August 2019

Rental of former orphanage as co-living accommodation called The Orphanage criticised as 'provocative' and a 'publicity stunt'

The former ‘Birds Nest' Orphanage
The former ‘Birds Nest' Orphanage

Niamh Lynch

THE rental of a former orphanage into a co-living space that will be called The Orphanage has been criticised as "provocative" and a "publicity stunt."

The former 'Bird’s Nest' orphanage, situated at 19-20 York Road in Dun Laoghaire, was founded as an orphanage in 1859 by a Mrs Smyly and was later operated by the Smyly Trust afterwards before it was closed  in 1977.

According to reports the accommodation would comprise of four suites with “indoor and outdoor shared spaces”, available to rent for up to €1,500 per month.

Each suite would include a king-sized bed, en-suite bathroom, storage space, a private living space with a TV and there would also be a shared kitchen facility.

A spokesperson for the owner told the Irish Times that the suites reflected “the history that was there” and that “when you are there, it will become your adopted home.”

The listings for the “suites” have been removed from several rental websites, as well as the website for letting agent Brady and McCarthy.

Brady and McCarthy Letting Agents directed queries to the property owner, who did not respond to at the time of publication.

Senator Victor Boyhan, a former councillor for Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, was critical of The orphanage.

Mr Boyhan told “At a minimum, it’s provocative. Was it a publicity stunt? Maybe.”

“I don’t see why they’d call it The Orphanage. I don’t know how they didn’t see it as an insensitive action. I don’t see the logistics of it from a marketing view.”

Meanwhile, Susan Lohan, co-founder of the Adoption Rights Alliance, also hit out at the co-living plans.

She said: “The vital thing is that, about institutions which a full history is unknown, that they should become protected sites. It’s absolutely astonishing to us in the Alliance. The fact that they had planning permission given and it’s pitched at this executive level. Had the building been put to good use, like for social housing, there wouldn’t be an issue.”

Lohan continued to say: “Were any of the survivors of various Protestant homes consulted about the use of the Bird’s Nest? I’m going to guess no. At a very minimum, survivors should be consulted before anything happens with former institutions.

“It’s totally at odds with best international practice and public statements by Zappone (Katherine Zappone, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs).”

Senator Boyhan was is critical of the concept of co -living, saying: “That whole 40 units, one kitchen thing - that’s outrageous, that’s inappropriate. I don’t want to see co-living as the norm.

“It’s worked across Europe but not for the long term. It’s not sustainable long term. We brought in legislation on Airbnb and I’d want the same here, to be controlled by legislation.”

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