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Pictured during a visit to the construction site of the Ashline social housing development in Ennis on Friday, August 27 are: front row (l-r) Darragh O’Brien TD, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage; and Cllr PJ Ryan, Cathaoirleach, Clare County Council; and (back row l-r) Anne Haugh, Director of Social Development, Clare County Council; Pat Dowling, Chief Executive, Clare County Council; and Graham Doyle, Secretary General, Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. The development at Ashline will see the provision of 40 social housing units. Photo: Eamon Ward.

Minister – ‘we can make a big dent in homeless crisis’

A DEVELOPMENT of 40 social homes in Ennis has been commended by the Housing Minister as an example of what local authorities will be supported to deliver under the new Housing for All plan.
Just days ahead of the much anticipated housing policy document, Minister Darragh O’Brien visited the estate at Ashline.
He described it as exactly the kind of development that he will be asking county councils to deliver.
“We will make a big dent in the housing crisis,” he told the Clare media. “We can do as we have the wherewithal, we have the expertise, we have the knowledge and the capability in this country, and indeed, in this government to make real strides on the housing situation, it is doable.
“I want to make sure that the normal working families and individuals who feel that they can’t buy a home are going to be able to. And that’s why the first thing I did was to champion the Affordable Housing Bill, which is now enacted.”
The minister highlighted how the new ‘Cost Rental’ scheme launched for Balbriggan in Dublin last month will enable people to secure long-term rental properties for 50% of the market price and said the government is committed to affordable housing.
“I want affordable homes for working people, first time buyers and those who may need a fresh start as well, and who don’t own any other properties,” he said.
“We’re here in Clare with 40 fantastic homes that are only started last November. There’s more of this. I’ve given the local authorities the ability to go and buy more land, they need more land to go and do it. I’ve met with the Chief Executive and Director of Services for Housing earlier on and the cathaoirleach as well.
“So local authorities, I’m asking them to deliver more public homes. I’ll be asking them to deliver affordable homes as well. And I think yeah, we can make a real dent in it.”
The Ashline scheme, comprising two-bed, three-bed and four-bed units, is funded by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH) with an approved budget of €10.534m.
Councillor PJ Ryan, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, welcomed the commitment to support social housing.
“This scheme here in Ennis is just one of an ambitious programme of delivery across the county and I am pleased to see the pace and quality of construction which has returned following the challenges of Covid-19,” he said.
Pat Dowling, Chief Executive, Clare County Council, said the development is designed to the highest standard and will provide a high-quality living environment for its future residents. “The units will feature a high-specification finish with an emphasis on energy efficiency,” he said.
“The development is very well located, being close to the town centre and close to services and amenities, including the local school.”
Anne Haugh, Director of Social Development, Clare County Council, described the development as “a significant contribution to the Council’s efforts to meet housing need in the county town where demand is particularly high”.
“It is important that we maintain momentum in identifying and delivering on all opportunities for increasing the social housing stock in Ennis to address this demand,” she added.
The Council with the support of the DHLGH is on track to deliver an additional 322 homes by direct build across the county by 2023 with two-thirds of these already complete or under construction. The expected completion date for the Ashline development is March 2022.
The contractor is M Fitzgibbon Contractors Ltd (building and civil engineering, with a design team comprising Eml architects Ltd (architects), Tom McNamara & Partners (quantity surveyors), P Coleman & Associates (civil structural engineers) and Matt O’Mahony & Associates (mechanical and electrical engineers).

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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