Limerick Council has more staff for cycle lanes than affordable housing

Fine Gael councillor Dan McSweeney

“WE have more staff delivering cycle lanes than affordable housing in Limerick.”

That was the message from Fine Gael councillor Dan McSweeney at this Monday’s Metropolitan District meeting when he called for the Council to write to Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien and the Taoiseach Micheál Martin outlining the urgent need for additional funding to recruit more staff to deliver affordable housing.

“It is now over 12 months since Housing For All was announced and to say I am frustrated with the pace of delivery of affordable housing would be an understatement,” Cllr McSweeney told the council executive.

“We have only 25 units approved under the Affordable Housing Fund with the first key in an affordable house door not until the third quarter of 2023 at the earliest.

“When we look around the country and see that other local authorities around the country already have keys in affordable housing doors. We see affordable houses already delivered or will be delivered by the year end include Cork, Westmeath, Waterford, and Wicklow.

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“We have seen the Government provide significant funding for the establishment of Active Travel Teams in local authorities across the country with Limerick City and County Council having in excess of 20 staff.

“This is brilliant for the delivery of Active Travel but to say that we have more staff delivering cycle lanes than affordable housing in Limerick is not acceptable.”

Cllr McSweeney pointed out that at present the Council have only been approved for four posts for the delivery of affordable housing.

Labour Party councillor Conor Sheehan maintained that there was no sense of urgency to address the housing issue.

“This is taking far too long. The funding is there. The issue is in the delivery,” he insisted.

Sinn Féin councillor Sharon Benson pointed out that people on the social housing list were suffering too due to the workload on the Housing Department.

Fine Gael councillor Michael Sheahan quipped that in the forthcoming cabinet reshuffle next month, we might see “Minister Ryan moved sideways into housing”.