Red tape slowing turnaround of vacant houses in Limerick

Cllr Joe Leddin

GOVERNMENT bureaucracy is slowing down the process of turning around vacant social houses to meet the demand for housing in Limerick city.

Speaking at this Monday’s Metropolitan District meeting of Limerick City and County Council, Director of Service Operations Kieran Lehane explained that there are “very specific requirements” which have to met.

Labour Party councillor Joe Leddin hit out at the council executive for currently having 110 badly needed homes boarded up in the city. The City West representative said it was a “shocking indictment” and “hugely frustrating”.

“We can’t put all the blame on the Minister. Surely to God something can be done at local authority level to turn these houses around. The will to do it just isn’t there,” he declared.

Sinn Féin councillor John Costelloe claimed that there is a house in Lee Estate vacant for more than three years.

“If this was anywhere else, if it was in the leafy suburbs somewhere, it wouldn’t be left like this,” the City North representative said.

Fianna Fáil councillor Kieran O’Hanlon described the situation as a “disgrace”. He called for Metropolitan councillors to receive a monthly report on the housing situation from the executive.

“We need to know what the delays are. We need to know what’s happening,” he insisted.

Party colleague Jerry O’Dea took the view that the constraints put on the Council by Minister Eoghan Murphy and his Housing Department continue to slow down the turnover of these badly needed homes.

“We are forced to continually look at new approaches to delivering houses for the people of my constituency in City East and all of Limerick,” he said.

Director of Service Operations, Kieran Lehane told council members that it was “more complicated than he thought before” when social housing was last discussed at City Hall in recent months.

“New regulations have to be met, which is delaying the process. In some cases ten of thousands has to be spent on houses that appear to be fine from the outside. We are doing every endeavour to turn this around,” he assured council members.