by Alan Jacques
COUNCILLORS in West Limerick have expressed fury over the lack of government funding for the area in the first phase of the social housing construction programme.
Speaking at this month’s Newcastle West municipal district meeting, Cllr Jerome Scanlan (FG) said the area was overlooked by Environment Minister Alan Kelly’s new €312 million social housing strategy.
The first phase of the programme will see 110 local authority housing units built at Clonmacken, Ennis Road; Deerpark, Adare; Glenview Drive, Hospital and Lisheen Park, Patrickswell at a total estimated cost of almost €20 million.
Cllr Scanlan said it was a “disgrace” there was no allocation of funding for social housing in West Limerick.
“All funding is gone to the eastern block. It came as far as Adare and no further. Why were we not considered?” he asked.
Fianna Fail councillor Francis Foley was flabbergasted that villages in West Limerick with a real need for social housing such as Mountcollins and Tournafulla were completely overlooked.
“We are so far away from the city that we’re just totally forgotten. This is just the start of it. We cannot be forgotten by the council. Smaller schemes with five and six houses are needed in these areas,” he said.
Fine Gael councillor Liam Galvin agreed that the local authority needs to be careful where they put social housing and how much of it they put in any area. He says smaller social housing schemes would be much more beneficial.
“Look at Abbeyfeale. In my opinion the town has too much social housing. Schemes need to be much smaller,” he added.
He also asked why areas such as Athea and Mountcollins were not included in the scheme.
“Are we being left behind totally and the city environs getting the bulk of the money. Rathkeale, Newcastle West, Kilmallock, none of these areas are included. These questions need to be asked, but the horse has bolted now,” he said.
Fine Gael councillor John Sheahan referred to one social housing estate where he claimed things were “mayhem”.
“If people are offered a house in this estate, they refuse it. In the past, if the council got land they built on it without looking at the housing list and where the demand was,” he said.
Sinn Fein councillor Seamus Browne said that Abbeyfeale had too much social housing and satellite villages should be looked at for funding instead.
“Too much social housing in an area comes with its own problems while places like Mountcollins and Tournafulla need new people to keep their schools and shops open,” he explained.
He called on the local authority to address the issue so the same areas are not getting funding for social housing “again and again”.
Fianna Fail councillor Michael Collins proposed that the director of services for housing attend next month’s district meeting to outline plans for social housing in the region.
This was unanimously supported by the other five area representatives.
Concluding the debate, Cathaoirleach Jerome Scanlan said that people on the housing list should be asked “where they would like to live not where they have to live”.