Sunday 21 January 2018

Burton: We can’t keep putting off social housing

Tánaiste hits out at 'bogus' reasons to avoid providing modular housing

Joan Burton
Joan Burton

Paul Melia, Kevin Doyle and John Brennan

Tánaiste Joan Burton has hit out at local authorities finding "potentially spurious and bogus reasons" not to build social housing.

Government plans to provide modular housing for homeless families have already sparked a backlash, with one councillor claiming it would lead to "shanty towns" and "ghettoisation".

There has been sharp criticism about the sites chosen for 153 new units, with councillors asking why Dublin City Council, which is controlled by Sinn Féin, did not select land in any of the capital's more upmarket areas.

It has also emerged that a housing body has planning permission for permanent homes on a site earmarked for 22 of the pre-fabricated units.

But the Labour Party leader entered the debate, saying that local councillors need to put the needs of people first.

"It is for the council officials and the members of the city council to actually look at and evaluate the sites," she said.

"But can I please, please ask the members of the city council not to be finding potentially spurious and bogus reasons as to why the day keeps being put off when we actually develop social housing.

"I think good debate and discussion on the merits and demerits of all the sites is absolutely in order, but at the end of the day, if the problem as it were is going to be talked out, we're not going to see very much action."

Latest figures show 637 families in emergency accommodation across the city, including 1,343 children.

Some 40 modular units are due to be constructed at St Helena's Drive in Finglas; 38 on Belcamp Avenue, Coolock; 29 on the Mourne Road in Crumlin; 24 at Cherry Orchard in Ballyfermot; and another 22 at Poppintree in Ballymun.

Local Fianna Fáil councillor Paul McAuliffe said all five sites were in communities "that have a high level of existing social housing".

Councillor Daithí de Róiste went further, saying it was "absolutely laughable" to suggest that the sites were selected after "rigorous examination".

"It's amazing that the council don't seem to own sites in Clontarf, or Sandymount, or Rathgar or Rathmines," he told RTÉ. "Well they most certainly do, believe you me, they do.

"But for some reason, I don't know whether it's social cleansing or something going on, they seem to have picked the most disadvantaged sites."

He added: "They're going to be put in there as a so-called temporary solution and they're going to just exist there. I suppose mini-ghettos and shanty towns etc will grow out of this."


The council said the sites were identified on the basis of their proximity to schools, healthcare services, transport links, shops and community activities.

But it has now emerged that the Ballymun site already has planning permission in place for 40 social and affordable homes.

The O'Cualann Co-Housing Alliance said that major doubts had now been cast on its plans for these homes.

A spokesman said members of the co-operative had already paid €5,000 towards the costs of development.

Hugh Brennan said the city council was attempting to "ride roughshod" over its members. The city council was not available for comment.

Junior Minister Kevin Humphries defended the placement of modular units in working class areas, saying there was "real pressure" for the homes in those locations. "That's where their children go to school, that's where their families are ... The Labour Party has always put the citizens first. We need to move children out of hotels and into high-quality homes."

He said the modular units were "high standard, provide good quality housing and I am sick and tired of so-called left-wing groups looking for arguments for why social housing shouldn't be built".

Irish Independent

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