Housing crisis reminder for Fianna Fáil councillors

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City north councillor, John Gilligan (Ind)

LIMERICK’S six Fianna Fáil Metropolitan area councillors were reminded this week that the city is in the middle of a housing crisis after they rejected plans to build 43 homes for families in Clonmacken.

Independent councillor John Gilligan asked if he was in a “parallel universe” at Monday’s Metropolitan District meeting when he took aim at the Fianna Fáil councillors after they backed a proposal from Cllr Vivienne Crowley to reject plans for 43 social housing units on the Condell Road.

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“You either vote for it or vote against it,” Cllr Gilligan pointed out.

“Part of our duty is to provide housing, that’s what we are here for. All Fianna Fáil is doing is what Willie O’Dea tells them to do. This is not an apartheid – you can have houses, but you can’t have them here!

“The people I am dealing with are practically suicidal as a result of the housing crisis; people are couch-surfing and living in bathtubs”.

Cllr Gilligan then went on to propose amendments to the plan which included removing 4-bedroom houses from the development and replacing them with 3-beds to reduce density, reviewing the entrance and preparing a traffic plan.

When Mayor Collins asked the logic of removing 4-bedroom houses to replace them with 3-bed houses, Cllr Gilligan replied: “I already explained that. Why don’t you ask Willie to explain it to you.”

Mayor Collins argued that the Clonmacken site was isolated with no services and felt residents would be more open to a mixed development including social and affordable housing.

Fianna Fail councillor and former Mayor Kieran O’Hanlon said he was in favour of “social integration, not social segregation”.

He claimed the Clonmacken development was an example of bad planning which came as a result of a “knee-jerk reaction” to the housing crisis.

The proposal was passed by 14 votes to 6 in with all six Fianna Fail councillors, Cllr James Collins, Cllr Jerry O’Dea, Cllr Sean Lynch, Cllr James Pond, Cllr Kieran O’Hanlon and Cllr Vivienne Crowley, voting against.

Following the meeting, chairman of the Clonmacken Residents Association, Patrick O’Neill said he was disappointed with the decision.

“From the outset we told all the councillors that we’re for addiotional housing but as a mixed development with the proper amenities in place,” Mr O’Neill told the Limerick Post.

“Both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael and one Independent agreed with us and indicated their support. They said they would ask council officials to meet with the local residents and agree to an application that would suit all the stakeholders. It was very disappointing to hear all the Fine Gael councillors present along with the Independent councillor voted for this proposal.

“They turned their backs on the people when they needed them most but will pay the price for this on the doorstep. Fianna Fail to their credit held their position and voted against this proposal as they indicated to the people they would do all along,” Mr O’Neill added.