Monday 17 June 2019

Residents want to hear from Focus

Anger at lack of consultation over Maugheraboy House

Sorcha Crowley at Sligo County Council meeting

Councillors have refused to give Focus Housing Association the funds - just yet - to buy a house in Maugheraboy in protest over what they claim has been a complete lack of consultation with residents.

The members were asked to approve giving funding to the housing charity for No.20 Springhill Court.

Fianna Fáil Councillor and Mayor of Sligo Municipal District Rosaleen O'Grady told officials that there had been "no consultation" with residents by Focus.

"We had the same problem with Sraid na Mara and we appealed to Focus to consult with residents in future and they obviously wouldn't listen," she said.

Fianna Fáil Councillor Tom MacSharry said the residents were opposed to the plan and he supported them.

Fianna Fáil Councillor Seamus Kilgannon said the Councillors got assurances that in future they would consult with residents associations. "Focus does a wonderful job but to allay fears they could at least have consulted the residents. I can't support this," he said.

Cllr MacSharry called for a vote and proposed rejecting the plan. He was seconded by Cllr O'Grady.

Council Housing Official Joe Murphy told the members that there was no requirement on the Council to tell Focus to consult with residents.

He said the reason the Council don't consult with residents about social housing is because "they would say no."

He said this was a house that was "badly needed" and urged the councillors to reconsider and approve the proposal.

Cllr O'Grady repeated the promise she alleged Focus gave to consult but she was contradicted by Cllr Hubert Keaney who said he was also at that meeting she was referring to and "no commitment" was given by Focus." Cllr O'Grady again insisted Focus had agreed to consult with residents in future. Council Chief Executive Ciarán Hayes said rejecting the Focus proposal would leave him in a "difficult position" with the Minister for Housing, "particularly looking for funding for other schemes."

After a fifteen minute recess all members returned to the chamber.

Cllr MacSharry confirmed they would agree to defer the proposal on the understanding that the Housing Department would stress the need to consult with residents to Focus.

Hayes said they would "certainly engage with Focus." Cllr MacSharry proposed to defer the proposal and all agreed.

Sligo Champion