Housing Minister 'asleep at the wheel' when it comes to tackling Longford's affordable housing crisis
Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien has been accused of being 'asleep at the wheel' when it comes to tackling Longford's affordable housing problems.
Local politicians took aim at the Dublin-Fingal TD at a meeting of Longford County Council this afternoon in the midst of ongoing fears the county is set to be excluded from a State backed affordable housing rollout.
Independent Cllr Gerry Warnock led the protestations, accusing Department of Housing officials of discriminating against smaller, predominantly rural based counties like Longford.
Award winning Longford journalist Shaunagh Connaire is to be given the county's top honour.
He said fears Longford would be one of 12 locations likely to miss out from a scheme set out in the Government's multi-billion euro Housing For All strategy, required urgent and decisive action.
"This (strategy) can be changed," he said, as he called on the council to seek the support of those 12 other local authorities facing similar dilemmas.
"It can be changed if enough people stand up and say it is wrong. It is as clear as the nose on my face that it is wrong."
Fine Gael's Colm Murray backed those urgings as he questioned the department's use of Ireland's 2016 census in determining which counties would be best suited for affordable housing schemes.
"It's time we called a stop to this nonsense," he said.
"Three or four years ago, there was talk with the department about affordable housing schemes and of wanting proposals, but they don't seem to want to listen to anything.
"It's not right counties like Longford and the people of this county who are in desperate need of affordable housing are being left high and dry."
His party colleague, Cllr Ger Farrell, however, was even more scathing as he launched a withering attack on Mr O'Brien amid growing concern Longford could be overlooked by government bosses for affordable housing.
"We have a fantastic housing department in the council with John Brannigan (Director of Services) who not only adopt a common sense approach, but can see what is needed on the ground and what the people of this county need," he said, adding, "Darragh O'Brien is absolutely asleep at the wheel."
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