CLARE will be taking part in a Regional Housing Strategy, which will see residents of Moyross and South Hill rehoused in the county. However, according to officials, there will only be a small number of arrivals and the county council will be able to vet people. In September 2008, Shannon Town Council venomously opposed Clare’s participation in the Regional Housing Strategy, with Councillor Tony Mulcahy warning that the “dregs of society” could be dumped in the town.
However, when details of the strategy were presented to the town council on Tuesday night, the reaction was not as hostile with Councillor Mulcahy stating that “it’s better to be inside the tent peeing out”.
In a report to town councillors, Shannon Town Manager, Bernadette Kinsella, stated that only three or four houses will be bought under the scheme and Limerick City Council has stopped buying up houses in Clare, something that had angered councillors and members of the public over the past few years.
“The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government have allocated capital funding to Clare and Limerick County Councils for the purchase of dwellings for the rehousing of tenants and homeowners in the Limerick Regeneration Areas. It is expected that this council will purchase three to four houses from this ringfenced allocation of €750,000 in 2009.
“The dwellings will be allocated at the sole discretion of Clare County Council in accordance with our normal procedures. These procedures have been incorporated into a protocol agreed between the directors of services of housing in Limerick City, Limerick County and Clare,” the report stated.
“In addition, Limerick City Council have confirmed that it has not purchased houses for allocation outside of its administrative area in Clare for the last two years or so. It is understood that prior to then, Limerick City Council purchased 17 houses in the administrative area of Clare. Clare County Council was not involved or consulted in respect of either the acquisition or allocation of these houses. This is in contrast to the current situation whereby Clare County Council has been allocated ringfenced funding for the acquisition of dwellings in its administrative area for the rehousing of families in the Limerick Regeneration Areas and will retain sole responsibility for their allocation.”
Councillor Gerry Flynn had put forward a motion calling for condemnation of the county council’s decision to take part in the scheme.
He claimed that neighbouring local authorities were being forced to dig Limerick City out of a hole. “We got a fair auld roasting in September 2008 when we had a motion not to have any hand, act or part in the Regeneration Programme and in my opinion, the minister devised a programme for dispersal from these areas and Clare, Tipperary and County Limerick will have to bring Limerick City out of a difficult situation.”
Councillor Cathy McCafferty said there are already enough people waiting for housing in Clare. “To be frank, there are quite enough on the housing list without people from outside the area.”
She also said that there are people in sub-standard accommodation who need to be catered for.
Councillor Tony McMahon said Shannon had bad experiences of people coming from Limerick troublespots and causing a nuisance. “The havoc and terror that has been caused in Shannon is absolutely frightening,” he claimed. Councillor McMahon also said he wasn’t of the view that all people coming from the Regeneration Areas would be troublemakers.
That view was echoed by his Labour colleague Councillor Greg Duff. “I would wish not to get involved in generalisations and scapegoating and I know that’s the opinion of the majority of councillors.”
Councillor Mulcahy sounded a more positive note than when the matter was discussed a year previously. “I’d prefer a situation where we’d have some control. Twelve months ago, we would have had no control.”
With regard to participation in the Regional Housing Strategy, he said it was “better to be inside the tent peeing out than outside the tent peeing in”.
Addressing the meeting Ms Kinsella said that the €750,000 allocation couldn’t be used for any other purpose. She said Clare County Council now has much more control over allocation than previously and will have its own vetting procedure. “That’s a significant change to two years ago when Limerick City purchased 17 houses in Clare and we were not involved in any way.”
Ms Kinsella also said there was little interest among residents in moving to Clare anyway, as only three families had expressed an interest by the middle of the year and one of these had subsequently withdrawn.