GENERAL Election poll topper Violet-Anne Wynne has chosen to remain tight-lipped on a request to make a donation to a homeless charity of her estimated rent arrears of €12,000, following her eviction from social housing.
The Kilrush-based mother-of-five created a political sensation on Monday by becoming the first Sinn Féin candidate to win a Dáil seat in Clare for the first time since 1917 after securing almost 9,000 first preferences.
Last week, Deputy Wynne claimed the person who decided to publicise information about her court case with Rural Resettlement Ireland (RRI) was “politically motivated” to negatively impact on her campaign.
Speaking after her sensational election, she said the Clare Champion’s lead story actually helped her to win a seat.
“I think people felt they could relate to me, I got a lot of messages of support, a lot of people saying they’ve either been in that situation or they know someone who has been in that situation before. A lot of people felt like they could approach me and talk to me,” she said.
In the latest significant development, RRI founder, Jim Connolly has proposed that Ms Wynne should make a donation of €12,000 to Mid-West Simon for the benefit of Clare families in view of the fact she will now earn an annual salary of €96,189 and because RRI no longer exists.
“Violet Anne Wynne is now going to be a legislator in the Dáil and I believe a legislator should comply with the law,” he said.
Ms Wynne and her partner John Montaine were asked to respond to a claim notice issued by RRI for the sum of €12,126 being the amount of four years’ rent arrears of rent up to June 3rd, 2016, according to court documents.
A weekly rent of €63.64 was set under a letting agreement dated December 1, 2011 and the family remained in the Tullycrine house until December 2017.
RRI were granted a decree for possession of their premises at Tullycrine, Kilrush by Ennis District Court on July 28, 2017 with a two month stay.
Ms Wynne insists the couple paid 12 months rent and a deposit until they experienced serious financial difficulties due to health problems.
In a statement issued to the Clare Champion this week, Ms Wynne declined to comment on the charity donation proposal.
“As I made clear last week, financial difficulties and illness in my family led to the non-payment of rent in respect of a property that my family previously lived in.
“This was a very difficult period for me and my family, and to have this raised continuously in an attempt to attack me smacks of desperation from those who want to discredit me and distract me from my work.
“The people of Clare have elected me as their TD and I am proud to represent this constituency.
“I look forward to bringing real world experience of the difficulties that ordinary families face to the Dáil and to getting stuck into my work on behalf of the people of Clare,” she said.
She insists the couple paid 12 months rent and a deposit until they experienced serious financial difficulties due to health problems.
Mr Connolly has this week provided the Clare Champion with a copy of a statement that was presented during the court case.
“I share what I believe to be the premise of Irish society in general that the right to a house or equivalent shelter is a human right.
“However, the fundamental question here today is whether that right extends to the provision of a completely free house at the expense of the taxpayer to all irrespective of their means,
“All 21 social houses built or purchased by RRI in Clare were 100% funded by the State. In the case of the family at the centre of this case today, their view on paying rent is unique in my experience.
“Based on information provided by the family themselves they have an income from the State and are not destitute; they appear to be able to run a car, pay tax and insurance, pay at the pump for fuel, pay for groceries at the check-out, pay utility bills and appear to look after their family in every respect; but when it comes to paying rent to this housing charity their virtual refusal is beyond my comprehension,” he stated.
The statement read out in court also described their payment record from day one as “catastrophic”.
“By the end of the first year the family had accumulated arrears of €1,763. By the end of year two, their arrears were €4,106. The last payment we received was €65 on August 2013. I believe this record speaks for itself
“RRI have taken every possible step to try and persuade the family to pay their rent including writing letters over a number of years and personal visits to the family by myself and our financial administrator. All these efforts were in vain.
“What we have in effect is a family wholly supported in their lifestyle by the taxpayer living virtually rent free in a brand new rural house also 100% funded by the taxpayer,” he stated.