Willie’s moustache enters the housing debate

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Willie O'Dea TD

LIMERICK TD Willie O’Dea has been accused of “speaking out of both sides of his moustache on housing” by Solidarity councillor Cian Prendiville.

The City North representative this week rejected a call by Deputy O’Dea for councillors to block 43 social houses from being built on the Condell Road.

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Speaking on Limerick Live 95FM last week, the Fianna Fail politician urged local councillors to block the social housing project, arguing that the development is “contrary to the integration policy” as it is all social housing. This refers to the policy whereby when private developers build housing estates, ten per cent of the houses must be sold to the council for use as social housing.

“Here you have one particular type of housing, there’s going to be no private housing proposed there, so it is solely social housing so it seems to go contrary to the integration policy,” Deputy O’Dea said on local radio.

Cllr Prendiville was far from impressed.

“Deputy O’Dea is speaking out of both sides of his moustache on housing, complaining about the shortage of public housing while actually opposing building public housing in any serious numbers.

“We are in the middle of a housing crisis, with thousands of people on the waiting list in Limerick, while there is only a trickle of social housing actually been built. We cannot follow Deputy O’Dea’s advice and simply wait for private developers to build private housing, and get ten per cent of them for public use. At that rate, we will be waiting decades at that rate to clear the current waiting lists. The State must build public housing on public lands and provide the investment needed to develop new thriving communities,” he said.

Cllr Prendiville went on to claim that Fianna Fail and Fine Gael want the State to do everything but actually build houses for people.

“They are cutting taxes for developers, spending public money essentially subsidising their profits, and bringing in vulture funds. They are building offices on the Opera site with no real provision of public apartments, and in Mungret they seem to be pushing to selling off public lands rather than building on it. This is a continuation of the reliance on ‘the market’ and private developers that got us into this mess in the first place.

“Solving the housing crisis is not rocket science. The Council has more than enough land to build on, the State has the money needed to invest but there seems to be no political will to actually build public housing,” Cllr Prendiville added.

Speaking to the Limerick Post this week, Deputy O’Dea confessed that he was “surprised” to hear from Cllr Prendiville.

“I thought he was gone off the scene altogether, but I am happy to give him some publicity,” the Limerick TD said.

He insisted that Fianna Fail are committed to providing social housing but feels it’s wrong to build in areas where there’s “inappropriate” infrastructure.

“This is most unfair on the occupants. There will be no green space and people will be cut off from the city. Mistakes have been made in the past and communities and individuals have suffered. The Solidarity Party should show solidarity to make sure the mistakes of the past are not repeated.

“The Council has plenty of land for social housing. I am all for social housing but I am opposed to the creation of ghettoes,” he concluded.