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Fianna Fáil leader accuses Fine Gael of 'looking down their noses' at social housing projects

The Fianna Fáil leader has accused Fine Gael of “looking down their noses” at social housing projects.

Micheál Martin made his comments as he weighed into a row over two Fine Gael city councillors’ opposition to a €17m social housing project in Montenotte, an affluent suburb on the northside of Cork city.

Cllr Joe Kavanagh, who represents the area, and Cllr Des Cahill, the party’s leader on Cork City Council who represents the south-east ward, have been criticised for opposing the plans for a 54-unit social housing project on the grounds of St Dominics Institute and Retreat on Middle Glanmire Rd, Montenotte - a privately-owned site originally earmarked for 44 private homes, with 10% for social housing.

Developers Murnane and O’Shea have abandoned those plans in favour of a partnership with Cork City Council to build 54 social homes, to be managed by an approved housing body.

Mr Kavanagh insists that he is voicing local concerns about the increase in housing density and the lack of affordable private housing in the area - and not any fundamental opposition to social housing per se.

In an interview with the Opinion Line on Cork’s 96FM today, Mr Martin slated FG's attitude to social housing and their response to the housing crisis in general.

“Fine Gael has a problem with council housing - they are ideologically, and their individual disposition is, against it,” he said.

“We built massive housing schemes in the 1930s and 1950s when we had far less money than we have today. Fine Gael have a problem with this.

“It’s the milieu from which some of them come - they don’t understand it, they don’t get it. I’m not going to label people but it seems to me that it’s a class thing.

“I just feel this is completely over-the-top stuff politically, it’s wrong and there is a class thing there and they look down their nose at local authority housing and council housing.”

Mr Cahill dismissed Mr Martin’s comments as "rubbish" and pointed out that while the city council built one social home in 2014, construction is now underway on more than 1,000 social homes across the city - the highest rate of any local authority in the country.

“The Taoiseach was in Cork at the weekend to turn the sod on the largest social housing project in the state just a few hundred metres away," he said.

“To say we are against social housing just doesn’t stack up. There is concrete proof against it. And we have €400m in our housing capital budget for the next three years.”

Submissions on the Montenotte scheme's Part 8 notice must be made by December 5. Councillors are expected to vote on it early next year.