By Dan Walsh
About thirty people braved a yellow rain weather warning at a camp style 24-hour protest, co-ordinated by the local branch of Sinn Féin, at the entrance to Wexford County Council headquarters at Carricklawn, in protest at the ‘housing crisis’ in Co. Wexford.
The protest began at midnight and coincided with today’s monthly meeting of Wexford County Council where the housing situation was on the agenda. It ends later tonight (Monday)
Cllr Tom Forde told WexfordLocal.com the purpose of the 24-hour protest is to send “a clear message to the Minister that it is not acceptable that we are in a crisis now and every emergency needs an emergency response to it. We are asking for measures to address the housing crisis and we are also asking the Minister to respond to the numerous invitations sent to him over the last two years unanimously from Wexford County Council and asking him to attend a meeting of Wexford County Council so we can raise these concerns directly to him.”
This morning Sinn Féin’s Deputy Johnny Mythen visited people at the camp and commended them on their support as he claimed; “nobody seems to be listening and the housing situation has to change.”
At the meeting it was clear that all councillors are ‘generally nervous’ around the housing situation and there was a particularly strong representation from Cllrs Lisa McDonald and Ger Carthy who were united in calling for urgent action in the Rosslare District.
Cllr Michael Sheehan asked for the discussion on housing to be deferred, while Cllr Davy Hynes wondered when the Minister for Housing was coming to a meeting. Cllr Sheehan asked if the Minister had been formally invited and several members were in favour of seeing a copy of the invite to the Minister!
Officials poured out facts and figures and answered members questions regards delays to schemes and progress in housing, but the mood in the chamber wasn’t convinced that the Housing for All policy is delivering as efficiently as demand grows and rents are swirling out of control.
There were also references to the Local Property Tax which should be agreed at the October meeting?
Signals emanating from a Corporate Policy Group meeting held last Monday indicate that a majority of members are in favour of retaining the 10% top-up tax applied to the base level LPT in past years.
At today’s meeting Cllr Joe Sullivan said he would be “opposing the 10% tax increase” Cllr Sullivan told WexfordLocal.com; “Although I have very little support from the government parties in the stance I am taking in this matter, I do feel it represents the views of the people who elected me and others to Wexford County Council.”
Meanwhile, Wexford Sinn Féin members are set to reject an increase to the LPT. Cllr Tom Forde confirmed to WexfordLocal.com; “The Sinn Féin stance on the Local Property Tax is that we want it abolished. We think it is an unfair tax. It needs reform in its current standard, so I plan on voting against any increase at the next County Council meeting in October.”