A FORMER Fine Gael Lord Mayor has defended his party’s housing policies in the midst of increasing criticism about the worsening housing crisis.
Cllr Des Cahill has hit back at critics of Fine Gael’s housing policies, insisting that progress is being made and warning that ‘money doesn’t grow on trees.’
Sinn Féin members locally and nationally have been vocal in their criticism of the government’s housing policies, floating the prospect of a motion of no confidence in Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy.
Tánaiste Simon Coveney moved to defend the under-pressure Minister.
The situation locally was emphasised by Sinn Féin councillor Thomas Gould, who noted that four new applicants joined the city’s housing waiting list for every house handed out last month. Mr Gould said that the government’s plans weren’t ambitious enough.
Mr Cahill has hit back at the suggestion that the government isn’t working to solve the crisis.
“Rebuilding Ireland is working. In fact, it is ahead of schedule,” he said.
“Over 1,200 new social housing units were provided in Cork City and County between 2016 and 2017 under new build, acquisition and leasing schemes.
“The targets for Cork for 2018-2021 will see 4,220 new units delivered, which will see a total of 5,500 such homes provided to families. This is concrete action. In addition, HAP and Rás will continue to provide further housing solutions.”
Mr Cahill said that Fine Gael’s policies are having an impact all over the country, with further progress anticipated in the coming months as a result of infrastructural support schemes and the availability of competitive loans.
“When reflecting on this concrete progress where millions are being pumped into the social housing issue by Cork City Council it is disingenuous and inaccurate to say that progress has not been made,” he said.
“It seems to be a perennial tactic of certain councillors to give out rather than get on with it. If the housing list was reduced to zero, some councillors would find something new to moan about.
“The reality is that millions have been invested in Cork social housing. There is not a bottomless supply of money but substantial percentages of budgets are being invested in building social housing.
“When I was growing up I often heard that money doesn’t grow on trees.
“I often wonder about the lack of reality in what I see as the ‘Thomas Gould world of fantasy’, moving goalposts and negativity. Has he ever heard learned that money does not grow on trees?
“If he finds one of those magic cash trees or even a few branches, he might share the good news with the people of Cork and let the readers of The Evening Echo know.”
Earlier this week, Mr Gould referred to the latest housing report issued by City Hall which showed that 24 offers of social housing were accepted in May. In the same month, 112 first time applicants were added to the social housing waiting list, bringing the total number on the list to 4,620.
He said: “The figures from this housing report prove that things are not getting better.
“The main issue is that the housing targets set by the Government just aren’t ambitious enough.
“The plans under Rebuilding Ireland say we should be building 2,330 units in the next five years.
“That is only 440 per year. In the first four months of this year, we had more than 440 new applicants added to our social housing waiting list.”