FOLLOWING Eddie Lenihan sharing the story of his rental nightmare in Kilkee, local councillor Cillian Murphy says it illustrates a wider problem in the seaside town.
“There’s no getting away from the fact that people who want to live permanently in the town can’t get long term rentals.
“Eddie isn’t the only one that we know of, I think it really crystallises what we’re losing. Here’s a guy with a job who can work remotely, can elect to live in Kilkee, they have a family and it’s a loss to the community, the kids are a loss to our schools and sporting organisations.
“Eddie would have been very involved with Foróige, with the football clubs and sporting organizations, as would his wife. The social capital that that family unit brought to the town is gone.
“It just shows in one family the loss to our community of not having long term rentals available and affordable housing.”
Councillor Murphy said that the local property market does need to change.
“What we have at the minute is a totally unbalanced system, where all of our housing is for holiday homes and second homes and short term rentals.
“We just can’t get housing for people who want to live here full time. It shouldn’t be all of one and none of the other, on either side. We need to achieve a balance between permanent residences and the tourism income stream, because we have an economy that depends upon it. We have to make sure the balance is right.”
He said that the problem is one that exists for coastal communities in general, not just in Kilkee, and that it is having a serious impact on businesses.
“Many of our tourism businesses are struggling to get staff. We have seasonal businesses, staff are predominantly school leavers, in early years of college, looking for that casual seasonal work.
“But because we’re struggling to retain a long term population we don’t have a cohort of kids that age coming through, because of depopulation.
“Effectively that’s a struggle for our businesses and they’re having to look outside of the community, sometimes outside of the country for staff.
“Even then they’re struggling to get housing and accommodation for those people. There’s a vicious loop going around and around and at some point do we wake up where the town has no population, businesses can’t survive and services start to shut down.”