Elected members of Dublin City Council have voted overwhelmingly to halt the proposed sale of the site of the former convent and Magdalene Laundry on Sean McDermott St.

The two-acre site in Dublin's northeast inner city is the last remaining Magdalene Laundry in state ownership and was to be sold to a Japanese Hotel group.

The €50m development was to include a hotel, a community centre, a memorial garden and cultural venue to commemorate Magdalene victims and survivors, as well as a supermarket and 55 social housing units.

At a special meeting this evening, 37 councillors voted to retain ownership, with just eight voting against and two abstaining.

Survivors of the Magdalene Laundries applauded from the public gallery as the result of the vote was read out.

A number of protesters had gathered outside Dublin Castle ahead of the debate.

Some held signs saying "no sale", others held aloft posters which read "our land is not yours to sell".

Councillor Gary Gannon, who proposed the motion, said the proposed sale of such a culturally sensitive property to private developers without proper consideration for the victims and survivors of institutional abuse was entirely inappropriate.

"It is the only laundry of its type in the possession of the State, which is why it is so important," he told the council.

"When I think of conversations I have had with survivors, every single one had a simple request, to be remembered.

"These are people who had their names removed, we still don't have burial records where some were placed.

"There is a simple request and responsibility on us as a council custodians of that building, to provide a place where people can be remembered in an honourable way."

The council will now consider the future of the site.

Survivors have called for a museum and interpretive centre on the site.