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Gutting of Council houses in West Clare ‘sinful & shameful’

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Criticism has been voiced with the manner in which West Clare’s social housing stock has been managed.

Speaking at the November meeting of the West Clare Municipal District, Cllr Ian Lynch (IND) highlighted his displeasure with the procedures being followed when it comes to the MD’s housing stock. “There are only 36 houses vacant in the whole of West Clare, I thought there was more in Kilrush alone.

“This is a serious problem. I can’t believe we’re allowing houses go into our stock when they’re not ready, I can’t understand how we’re letting substandard houses receive state funding”.

At the meeting, Lynch had sought details on the West Clare MD’s social housing stock including the occupancy rate, completed inspections, amount of HAP approved properties and housing applications.

Senior executive officer within the Council’s Housing Department, Siobhán McNulty outlined the local authority has 862 houses within its stock for the Municipal District. Of this, 119 are one bedroom, 217 are two bedroom, 493 are three bedroom, 31 are five bedroom with 2 five bedroom houses.

McNulty confirmed there are 36 vacant properties in the West Clare MD, 23 casual vacancies, 3 recent acquisitions and 10 long term voids. “The average vacancy period for the casual vacancies is 70 days. There are a number of long term voids in Kilrush which have been vacant for a period”. She advised that both St Senan’s Terrace and Nagles Terrace in Kilrush are due to be going to tender.

2,968 applicants are qualified for social housing support within the MD, 1,365 of which are HAP accommodated and 185 approved for inclusion on a transfer list. “We have no measurement or capability of measuring the number happy to remain in their current rented accommodation,” Siobhán stated.

A frustrated Cllr Lynch noted that some residents had informed him about how cold properties were. “The Council spent an extreme amount of money on houses to be gutted, it is sinful and shameful this has been allowed to happen”.

“I asked a similar question directly with regard to Kilkee,” Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) stated. The answer alerted him that there were 114 people looking for housing in Kilkee with only seven available vacant houses, “This is an indicative example of the pressure the Housing Department are under,” he said in seconding the motion.

“Would I be right in saying Kilrush looked after their own housing needs at one stage,” Cllr Gabriel Keating (FG) asked. Director of Service, Leonard Cleary said this was done by Kilrush Town Council. “Would it be a help if you had a centre in West Clare and the applications were going there. I know in Kilkee there was 7 in one estate vacant,” Keating suggested.

Cleary felt it would be advisable for Siobhan McNulty to hold a briefing session with councillors and encouraged the elected representatives to advise Council officials of their “local knowledge that could provide solutions in a challenging area”.

“I would ask Siobhan to bring the 36 houses into use. There are families waiting for their house and want a roof over their head. The cost of bringing houses back to the market has gone up significantly in last five years,” Cllr Lynch commented.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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