New house deal not linked to Clondra saga

Longford County Council. Photo: Michelle Ghee.

Longford County Council. Photo: Michelle Ghee.

The Department of Environment has given council executives the go-ahead to purchase a residence under a State grants scheme which last year caused controversy over the proposed purchase of Co Manager Tim Caffrey’s house.

But it’s not using the same €250,000 of taxpayers’ money that had been provisionally ring-fenced for Mr Caffrey’s four-bedroomed unit in Clondra, officials have confirmed.

Instead, a €75,000 State grant is to be set aside for the purchase of a house at Battery Court in Longford town.

Unlike the Clondra deal which was earmarked for voluntary housing body The Muiriosa Foundation, this time around the main agency concerned is locally-based organisation, St Christopher’s.

“As an exceptional measure and having regard to the fact that the Muiriosa project did not proceed, the Department will consider a substitute project promoted by St Christopher’s Housing Association,” a statement to the Leader outlined this week.

Local politicians had anticipated the money allocated last year would be assigned to the 2014 Capital Assistance Scheme (CAS), hopes that a Department spokesman was quick to downplay.

“In the case of the funding approved in respect of the Muiriosa project at Clondra, the money had to be drawn down by end December 2013.

“Because the proposal was withdrawn, the funding was not drawn down and any unspent money from 2013 is no longer available to the Department.”

Despite the Government’s willingness to accept the St Christopher’s project as “an exceptional measure,” housing chiefs have warned the deal is far from clear-cut.

“Approval of funding is conditional on a positive and supportive project appraisal being submitted by Longford Co Council.

“We are, at present, awaiting a detailed proposal (with appropriate supporting documentation) from the council,” the spokesman added.

Meanwhile, an investigation into the earlier and controversial purchase of Mr Caffrey’s house in Clondra under the same CAS scheme is still being examined by the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO).




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