Finding housing for Opera Square office workers will be a challenge

Gina Oberoi entertains Mayor Francis Foley, Housing Minister Darragh O Brien, Minister of State Kieran O Donnell and Limerick Twenty Thirty Chairman Conn Murray at the Opera Centre site.

HOUSING Minister Darragh O’Brien has said it will be a challenge to provide  accommodation for 1,000 workers and their families who are to be recruited to fill a €80 million office development in Limerick City Centre.

Minister O’Brien was visiting the site of the Opera Square development where a joint venture with the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) will provide €80 million for the construction of the One Opera Square building.

The 10,000 square metre building is a central element of the overall development and will provide space for up to 1,000 office staff when it is completed in January 2025 .

Asked if 1,000 office workers would be able to find a suitable place to live, Minster O’Brien replied: “Well, thats our job, to make sure they do. But that is the challenge, and that is why the ‘Housing For All’ strategy is there.

However, he acknowledged that the latest data published by showed that rents jumped by 13.7 per cent last year, with the average market rent nationwide standing at €1,733 per month by year end.

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Dublin had the highest average rate, at €2,324 per month, followed by Galway City (€1,796), Cork City (€1,768), while the average monthly rent in Limerick City stood at €1,673 and €1,272 in Limerick County.

A spokeswomen for the Minister said approval has been given under the affordable housing fund for €2.6 million for 16 cost rental homes in Limerick.

Minister O’Brien later said he doesn’t believe bribery allegations involving the ESB and construction companies will negatively impact the supply of housing.

The allegations arose during a High Court hearing into claims that a State-backed construction company and a linked development firm made corrupt payments to ESB staff, in order to secure power grid connections.

Asked for a comment, Minister O’Brien initially said he was taking the allegations very seriously but as he was not familiar with the details, he didn’t think it would be appropriate to comment any further.

However, when pressed on the matter, he said: “To answer your question, do I believe it will inhibit the delivery of additional homes?  I don’t.”

“There are many hundreds and thousands of workers in the ESB who work incredibly hard. It will obviously be a matter for the ESB and I have no doubt that there will be discussions with Minister Eamon Ryan in that regard also.”