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Gilligan claim for benefits is two fingers to Irish citizens

The State should not be giving help to convicted criminal John Gilligan, writes Jimmy Guerin

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ANTI-SOCIAL: Would you like John Gilligan living next door? Picture: Collins

ANTI-SOCIAL: Would you like John Gilligan living next door? Picture: Collins

ANTI-SOCIAL: Would you like John Gilligan living next door? Picture: Collins

The eviction of John Gilligan from Jessbrook in the coming weeks brings to an end a 20-year battle, which has cost the State tens of millions defending the vexatious claims made by Gilligan and his family. It's a long time coming but is a credit to the men and women of the Criminal Assets Bureau who never gave up in their determination to strip this thug of his ill-gotten gains.

Jessbrook is where Gilligan violently assaulted Veronica before he arranged for her to be killed. It was very hard to watch Gilligan return to Jessbrook on his release from prison. I could not believe that this seasoned criminal, killer, bully, woman beater and the country's biggest drug dealer could just walk back into the home he bought from the proceeds of crime.

As we approach the 21st anniversary of Veronica's murder, its satisfying to know that Gilligan and his family will no longer reside in this house and continue to give two fingers to all decent law-abiding people of the State.

On March 6 last, the Supreme Court granted a three-month stay on the execution of the eviction, so from June 6 next the State can take possession of Jessbrook. I think there should be no rush, in fact I think we should wait until June 26 next to take Jessbrook back from Gilligan.

That will be the 21st anniversary of Veronica's assassination. It would be enjoyable watching Paul Williams, who to this day pursues Gilligan and all those responsible for Veronica's death, lead his colleagues from the press up the driveway of Jessbrook on Veronica's anniversary.

After all these years Gilligan shows no remorse and is still an arrogant thug, determined to milk the system in an affront to all law-abiding people in the State.

I learned from media reports that Gilligan recently presented himself to the Blanchardstown offices of Fingal County Council enquiring about his entitlements to social housing or rent subsidy. He claims he will be homeless following the eviction.

This is just another publicity stunt, but as a councillor in Fingal I would find it extremely difficult to be part of a council that would assist Gilligan.

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Journalist Veronica Guerin

Journalist Veronica Guerin

Journalist Veronica Guerin

When questioned by a journalist at the time, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Simon Coveney, stated that a housing officer would have to assess Gilligan's income and base their decision around that. I disagree with the Minister and believe thsat there are many reasons why Gilligan should not even be considered for housing or for rent subsidy.

Under section 14 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1997, a housing authority may refuse to allocate or defer the allocation of a dwelling to a person where the authority considers that the person is, or has been engaged in anti-social behaviour, or that an allocation to that person would not be in the interest of good estate management. Looking at the legislation it is clear that Fingal has a duty of care to those living in estates within Fingal. But now look at Gilligan's record:

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• Gilligan's life is constantly under threat - and this alone places innocent people in danger of being killed if there is an attempted shooting of Gilligan.

• Gilligan has a record of anti-social behaviour in his previous homes; he has stripped Jessbrook of every last stick even though this is the property of the State.

• Gilligan claims to have no money, yet while in prison boasted about the funds he was able to hide from the Criminal Assets Bureau.

Based on the above, it appears that not only Fingal but also any local authority would have to refuse Gilligan housing or rent subsidy.

I accept that all councillors do not share my view and the view has been expressed that councillors have a duty to help all people who claim to be homeless. Having served on Fingal County Council for the last three years I know the full extent of the housing crisis and I also know that despite the rhetoric from Anti-Austerity (Solidarity), Sinn Fein and other parties when it comes to being responsible, some care more about the party line and votes than they really do about funding and solving the homeless crisis.

I say this because last year, against the advice of Fingal's Executive, Fingal councillors voted by 28 to nine in favour of reducing local property tax by 15pc. This was the third year in a row and at a total cost of €16m to Fingal County Council. This resulted in 80pc of homes in Fingal saving from 60 cents to €1.25 per week - yet deprives the council of much-needed funding.

Councillors could have voted for most of this money to go towards housing. Fingal has an excellent housing department which delivers day in day out with minimal resources and €100,000 a week, every week, would make a huge difference to them in addressing the housing situation within Fingal.

In respect of Gilligan's application for housing or rent allowance, some may say I am biased. Of course, I am. Gilligan is the man responsible for the murder of my sister. I believe he should never get assistance or a house from Fingal or any other local authority and I will do whatever possible to ensure that this thug is prevented from further milking the system at the taxpayers' expense.

Jimmy Guerin is an independent councillor for Howth-Malahide on Fingal County Council


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