Limerick TD says he would deliver houses in Varadkar’s position

Independent TD Richard O'Donoghue speaking in the Dáil.

COUNTY Limerick politician Richard O’Donoghue told the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that if he had infrastructure, “I would deliver the houses”.

Speaking in the Dail during Leaders’ Questions, the Rural Ireland Independent wanted to know why EU funds intended to support rural Ireland were redirected to climate measures?

Deputy O’Donoghue put it to the Taoiseach that Ireland received €365.5 million from the EU to spend on supports for Ireland’s economy in mitigating the impact of Brexit in 2021.

“Ireland was the biggest beneficiary of Brexit funding as we were the country worst affected by Brexit. The funding Ireland received was to contribute to the improvement of living standards, support economic growth, and mitigate the negative impacts on local communities,” he declared.

He then claimed that he has learned through a Government source that a request was made to the European Commission to transfer €150 million of the Brexit adjustment reserve funding to support the roll-out of climate measures.

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”What is the biggest crisis in Ireland currently? It is surely housing. Why can the Government not direct the funding into housing infrastructure? I have asked for this to be done for the past three years.”

O’Donoghue then told Varadkar that if he had infrastructure, “I would deliver the houses”.

In response, the Taoiseach explained that a number of different funds are operated by the European Union through the European Commission and there are very strict rules around those funds.

“One of those funds is the Brexit adjustment reserve fund. Ireland secured just over €1 billion from the fund but we are limited in how we can spend it,” the Taoiseach said.

“For example, we are able to spend it on upgrading our ports facilities and we have done that in Rosslare and in other ports around the country. We are able to spend it on fisheries and much of the money has gone to the fishing industry.

“We would have liked to have spent a lot of it helping businesses, for example, and the agricultural sector but in order to do so, we have to demonstrate that those businesses have lost their profits or have gone into the red solely as a consequence of Brexit. Given the increased trade that has occurred between Britain and Ireland, the performance of business and rising incomes, this did not fit the criteria.

“When money from one fund is not spent, it can be moved to another fund, and we have moved this money to another fund called the European recovery fund.”

Varadkar also told the Limerick TD that this money cannot be spent on housing but it can be spent on things such as retrofit.

”And that is one of the things we have decided to divert the funding to. That will be of benefit to the construction industry because the same people carry out a lot of that work.”

Retorting to the Taoiseach’s remarks, Deputy O’Donoghue said:

“But what is he going to tell the people in Askeaton, Oola, Hospital, Kilfinnane, Dromcolliher, Patrickswell, Ballingarry, Abbeyfeale, and many more places around County Limerick given those promises were made 40 years ago to upgrade sewerage systems so that we could build houses and infrastructure?

“I accept that the Taoiseach said money is available now, but will he give it to Limerick so we can build houses?”