Saturday 18 November 2017

Social housing on 'green spaces' call sparks class war

Sinn Féin’s Cathal King
Sinn Féin’s Cathal King
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

A so-called 'class war' has broken out in south Dublin, after Sinn Féin claimed working class areas are bearing the brunt of social housing projects.

Sinn Féin has demanded that middle class areas such as Terenure, Lucan and Templeogue be prioritised for social housing with one councillor remarking: "God knows there is an abundance of green spaces within those areas".

Sinn Féin's group leader and general election candidate Cathal King has claimed the current housing strategy will mean there will be "no green spaces left in places like Tallaght and Clondalkin".


The former mayor tabled a motion which called for a reform of the housing strategy in South Dublin County Council.

"The very purpose of this motion was to ensure that the next six years would see proper and meaningful consideration for integrated housing policies being developed, with areas like Firhouse, Terenure, Templeogue and Lucan, to name but a few, identifying sites for infill schemes. Because God knows there is an abundance of green spaces within those areas," he said.

Mr King made the remarks in an email to councillors and officials which has been seen by the Irish Independent.

But the claims prompted a curt response from Fine Gael, which last night accused Sinn Fein of resenting people in middle class areas.

Lucan-based Fine Gael councillor William Lavelle said the response from Sinn Féin on the issue of housing is blind towards the needs of young couples.

"Their only solution to Dublin's housing supply crisis is to build more social housing while criticising private development," he said.

"Yes, we need to build more social houses. But social housing on its own won't help aspiring young couples who want to own their home," Mr Lavelle told the Irish Independent.

"Now we see Sinn Féin councillors wanting to build housing on green spaces or parks in existing well-established residential areas.

"It would seem that some people in Sinn Féin have an obsessional resentment of people who own or want to own their own home."

Mr Lavelle's Fine Gael colleague, Councillor Colm Brophy, called on Sinn Féin to produce a list of estates and green spaces which it believes would be suitable for social housing.

"Everyone wants to see the correct amount of social housing, as well as a properly functioning construction sector, but the politics of envy gets us nowhere," Mr Brophy told the Irish Independent.

Mr King did not respond for comment last night.

The issue of housing is raising significant concern for councillors around the country, particularly as the general election looms.

Councillors from all political parties are concerned at the pace in which councils are drawing down the €3.8bn fund secured by Environment Minister Alan Kelly.


Government sources believe the issue will be top of the agenda during the upcoming election campaign.

Last month, Mr Kelly produced a 23-page document at the Labour Party meeting which pledged a series of sweetners for developers who, in return, offer reduced rent to tenants.

In some cases, landlords will receive the concessions in return for charging rent at 30pc below the market rate.

The carrot and stick approach is part of an array of measures aimed at introducing "rent certainty" into the marketplace.

The affordable rental scheme is designed to benefit low and middle-income earners in urban areas who do not qualify for social housing.

These households are struggling to meet their accommodation needs in the private rental sector.

Irish Independent

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