*Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne. Photograph: Natasha Barton.
CLARE TD, Violet-Anne Wynne (IND) has revealed that she and her family are homeless and are currently residing in a holiday home.
On Tuesday, Deputy Wynne confirmed that she and her family of eight were now living in a holiday home in the county, they recently received a notice of termination from their landlord.
For her role as a TD, the Offaly native is paid €101,193 and is entitled to €31,365 a year in travel and accommodation allowances.
She announced this week, “Unfortunately, we are currently homeless, I am actually doing this video from the kitchen table of a holiday home that we are very grateful that we were in a position to be able to rent”. Wynne added, “I don’t want to mention the location of this holiday home, as many of you will know that my partner has been facing relentless attention from really only a handful of Gardaí in Kilrush since the election, I say only a handful because it is not all”.
Renting in Kilrush was only supposed to be “a short-term solution to our housing need as it was far too small for our family size”. Violet-Anne and her partner John Montaine have been in the private rental market for the past five years. They are finding the prospect of securing a four-bedroom property extremely difficult.
Deputy Wynne said she had been seeking alternative accommodation prior to the General Election of February 2020. Before becoming a TD, she was on social welfare and worked as a carer for her son. “The housing crisis is a major problem in this country and in my county of Clare, I know that at the time of the notice to quit that finding hotel space was extremely difficult and the holiday home was the only answer for our family but it is not a sustainable solution for anybody. We remain hopeful and hopefully we do get good news”.
While initially determined to stay in West Clare, Violet-Anne admitted that due to the lack of supply they are having to look at all parts of the county with unsuccessful applications already made. “It is pressure like no other and it really impacts everyone in the household, the complete uncertainty of where you are going to live”. She added, “It has impacted everyone, it has been demoralising, when you’re looking at Daft every single day and seeing a couple of thousand views on a property before you’ve had a chance to view it”.
Violet-Anne admitted she was very worried for their prospects and said one consideration is to split up the family to try secure a smaller property. “We’re extremely lucky to be able to secure a holiday home for three weeks, even that was difficult because we’re in the summer season and these are in high demand for holidaymakers coming to the county. It has been fierce pressure since we got the notice to quit, it is difficult for anybody to partake in society when you don’t have the security of shelter. I am extremely concerned and worried about what we are going to do after the time period we’ve been able to secure the holiday home for”.
Immediate action is needed from the Government, the former Sinn Féin representative said. “We’re not the only family in this situation I know well, we’re not the only family to receive a notice to quit, it is extremely pressurised to be under. They need to go back to the drawing board and look at practical steps to be taken in the here and now to result in accommodation for people”.
Given the wage she is on, Deputy Wynne acknowledged that people would struggle to comprehend how she could not secure a property. “I knew I would be getting all sort of commentary, it is a free for all on social media, I didn’t take the decision lightly to post the video. I wanted to highlight the situation our family was in”. She continued, “The circumstance of me entering politics has had an impact on my ability to try get a mortgage. I was on social welfare and a carer for my son before the election, it has left me in position that with credit history that banks haven’t been able to afford me an opportunity to apply for a mortgage”.
“It’s desperate for so many people, a lot of people are silently suffering because of that fact, they aren’t able to move on or up the property ladder, it’s affecting more people than we are aware of. Impacting our mental health, we have little hope,” the Clare TD told Clare FM’s Morning Focus.
In May 2020, Deputy Wynne paid back a rent arrears of €12,000 which was owed over a four-year period to Rural Resettlement Ireland while she was living in a Tullycrine property. The Jim Connolly founded organisation is no longer operating and RRI made the decision to donate the arrears to charity.
Alongside her partner John, they have been living in Kilrush since 2011. She was once homeless for a and previously told The Clare Echo she spent three to four months living in a rat infested house while pregnant. “It was that bad, you could hear the scratching noises very closely and they were getting out in the house even when we were blocking up holes, they were creating another one right beside it. It was a traumatic experience, there are times when sometimes I get tired going out canvassing and what pushes me to get up and go is that experience, I will never forget it,” she recalled.