Saturday 3 December 2016

Plan to move homeless out of city to rural areas 'crazy'

Miriam Donohoe and Shane O'Riordan

Published 21/08/2015 | 02:30

Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen
Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen

Minister for Tourism Paschal Donohoe has insisted that a plan to move homeless people from Dublin city centre to rural areas was not motivated by tourism concerns.

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The minister said that keeping homeless people out of the view of tourists in Dublin "plays no role in it whatsoever".

Moving homeless people to rural areas is one of a number of strategies the Government is considering to address the situation.

However, Mr Donohoe did not have a figure for the cost of implementing the controversial plan.

Opposition parties have criticised the plans, with Fianna Fáil describing the proposed scheme as "crazy".

Speaking at the launch of a policy document outlining radical measures to tackle growing national rents, Fianna Fáil spokesman on the environment Barry Cowen said the housing crisis was not exclusive to Dublin.

He said nearly half of the representations he receives in his Laois-Offaly constituency related to housing.

In the party's document, 'Generation Rent - A New Deal for Renters and Landlords', Fianna Fáil proposes to increase the rent supplement ceiling for struggling families. It also pledges to support longer-term leases to give security of tenure to families.

The policy further proposes allowing local property tax to be set off as an expense against rental income, and the introduction of a cap on rents to match the average charged for similar properties in the same area.

Mr Cowen attacked the Government for failing to act on the homeless and rental crisis, which he said is growing in Dublin and right across rural Ireland, with rents becoming completely unaffordable for many.

The plan outlines three steps to address the crisis. It claims it will draw together the needs of tenants and landlords alike "instead of crudely playing them off against each other, as has been the Government's approach to date".

On tenant's rights and affordable rent, Fianna Fáil is proposing legislation that will enshrine a long-term "family tenure" lease to give greater security to tenants.

The party says it will put in place tax incentives, such as full mortgage interest relief against rental income for landlords who engage in family and long-term leases, at a cost of €62m.

Irish Independent

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