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€9m bill to rehouse families from run-down estates

TWO local authorities are being paid by the State to take families from some of the country's most rundown urban estates as part of a controversial dispersal policy.

The Irish Independent has learned that Limerick and Clare county councils have received more than €9m over the last two years to provide accommodation for people from Limerick city's regeneration areas.

The issue of where former residents of Southill, Moyross, Ballinacurra-Weston and St Mary's Park move has become a bone of contention among homeowners across the Mid-West region.

Last night, the Department of the Enviroment, Heritage and Local Government confirmed that in excess of €3.5m was made available to Limerick and Clare county councils last year to accommodate those who successfully applied to move to new homes.

A department spokesman said people from the regeneration areas had to apply to the relevant local authorities before a decision would be made on whether to accommodate them.

No figures on how many families have moved were available.

A strict vetting process -- including garda clearance -- is in place as part of the initiative .

Chief executive officer of Limerick's Regeneration Agencies, Brendan Kenny confirmed to the Irish Independent that more than€9m has been made available to accommodate successful applicants.

Mr Kenny said Limerick County Council received €3.5m last year and €4.5m in 2009 to house former residents of the regeneration areas. Clare County Council received €500,000 in 2010 and €750,000 in 2009.

"I accept it is a very emotive issue across the region," he said.

"There are strong protocols in place for this. All those who wish to move to counties Limerick or Clare from the regeneration areas must first apply to Limerick City Council. A garda clearance is also done before they then apply to Clare or Limerick county councils. Only then is a decision made".

From the 3,000 households in the four regeneration areas, Mr Kenny said 800 are currently vacant through tenants relocating, emigration or death.

Director of housing with Limerick County Council, Jimmy Feane said the scheme was put in place to assist a limited number of families who needed to be relocated.

Mr Feane said the local authority has not received a single complaint in relation to any tenants it accommodated from the regeneration areas.

"The experience of their neighbours of the new residents has been exemplary," he pointed out.

"We work hand in hand with Limerick City Council and the gardai on this."

A spokesman for Clare County Council said they received a very small number of applicants based on the level of funding received.

Work is expected to begin next month on the first homes to be built in Limerick's regeneration areas.

Irish Independent