Tuesday 16 January 2018

Gilmore admits council houses are being left vacant for ‘unacceptably long time’

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore admits that council houses are lying idle
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore admits that council houses are lying idle

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore has admitted that council houses are being left vacant for an unacceptably long time.

It came after figures showed that there are 3,500 council houses lying idle while 112,000 people remain on the waiting list for social housing.

At Leader’s Questions in the Dail, Mr Gilmore said there was problem in relation to vacant council houses with around 3pc of them empty at any one time.

“There are a number of local authority dwellings which are vacant for an unacceptably long period of time. Those are issues that have to be dealt with,” he said.

Mr Gilmore said the Government would be providing 5,000 new social houses next year through new builds and leases, as well as 2,000 NAMA properties over the next two years. He also said that €15m would go towards refurbishing 300 vacant council houses and another €15m to build new ones.

He also told Sinn Fein Jonathan O’Brien that the Government had been limited in what it could do in terms of social housing due to the financial crisis.

“I don’t know if you missed it, but the country was broke. The country ran out of money,” he said.

However, Mr O’Brien said the Government was only providing 7,500 social houses during its remaining time in office when there were 114,000 people on the waiting list.

“It’s a drop in the ocean. There has been €233m cut from the capital budget in terms of housing. This Government has abandoned those on social housing lists, who are the most vulnerable in society,” he said.

Mr Gilmore also defended the Government’s record on providing medical care for children, saying it was fully committed to providing the best care possible.

It came after Fianna Fail TD Sean O’Fearghail said it was committed to universal health care but was not giving medical cards to all children with life-limiting conditions.

“The reality is that we have 1,400 children nationwide who have life-limiting conditions and 350 of them die annually,” he said.

Mr O’Fearghail said a study had shown it was costing €150,000 per year to look after these children in hospital but would only cost €16,500 to provide palliative care services for those children at home.

Irish Independent

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