Wednesday 25 April 2018

Minister Alan Kelly criticises homeless campaigner Fr Peter McVerry: 'I've never heard him say one thing positive'

Take a peek inside Dublin's renewed €17m elderly housing centre

Emma Jane Hade

Emma Jane Hade

Environment Minister Alan Kelly has criticised homeless campaigner Fr Peter McVerry, accusing him of never having “one thing positive” to say.

The Tipperary TD was speaking earlier today at the reopening of Fr Scully House in Dublin’s north inner city.

Mr Kelly was probed about being criticised by Fr McVerry yesterday at a conference, where he described the State’s plans to introduce 3,000 new social housing units by 2020 and their aim to end homelessness by 2016 as “Alice in Wonderland politics”.

The Minister said he is  “used to these comments from him”.

“I haven’t heard him say one thing positive yet in relation to anything, which is unfortunate because many members of his staff which work with us would have or express contrary views”

“I’d rather if people were more constructive and we were meant to have a meeting and he cancelled it sometime ago, but I am happy to talk to him at anytime.  I take criticism all the time, it is important that you take it and I always take what he says and use it and try and channel it,” he added.

The deputy leader of the Labour party was speaking as the unveiling of a senior citizens’ housing complex Fr Scully House which was reopened today.

Minister Alan Kelly admitted that there are lessons to be learned from the recently resolved rental dispute at the accommodation centre for elderly people.

He met with some of the residents just days after the announcement that the bitter seven-month rental dispute was coming to an end, meaning that 75 new beds  are now available.

Minister Kelly recently intervened in the rental impasse over the €17m complex, which erupted between the State and the Catholic Housing Aid Society (CHAS) over rental rates.

“I don’t think this should have happened. The taxpayer put €17m into this, this needed to be executed earlier, unfortunately there were issues and there were learnings from that,” Mr Kelly said.

“It is fantastic day, this is one of the best projects I have seen … 99 units.  I have met many of the residents, they are so happy, it is beyond their wildest dreams.”

Fr Scully House has 99 apartments and shortly before Christmas it was agreed that 24 tenants who had previously lived there could move back in immediately.

Among those was 68-year-old Carmel Murray, who gave Minister Kelly a tour of her home.

“There is a big difference. It’s a lot better, it is really nicer,” Ms Murray said.  “The other residents are happier, they are really happy.”

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