By Dan Walsh at Wexford County Council meeting
Cllr Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin has drawn attention to a “concerning” situation in the neighbouring county of Wicklow, making headlines in print and radio/television news bulletins, where it emerged as a matter of disappointment and shock that only 30% of new homes which are part of a council-backed affordable housing scheme in the county are to be reserved for locals.
Cllr Ó Súilleabháin was speaking at today’s (Monday) monthly meeting of Wexford County Council held at the Carricklawn headquarters on the outskirts of Wexford town.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Wicklow-based Independent Cllr. Joe Behan welcomed there were “finally some affordable houses available” to buy, but said he was “quite disappointed, dismayed and shocked that the minister intervened to ensure that effectively only 30%, or 11 of the houses, will be reserved for Wicklow applicants”.
Cllr. Behan called on Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien to change how homes under the council’s affordable housing scheme are reserved for residents from the county that the houses are being built in.
He said it was one of the first such schemes rolled-out in the country, that councillors in other counties “might want to take note”, and that he thought “it would be far better if the rules were changed”.
“At the end of the day, only 11 houses being built by Wicklow County Council in the county of Wicklow are going to be guaranteed for residents in Co Wicklow. I just think that’s unfair,” said Cllr Behan.
However, RTÉ News reports that Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien has said the way the scheme is being applied is consistent with all local authorities.
“The scheme of priority, or the 70/30, is consistent with all local authorities. It’s one that I approved, and I think it is absolutely appropriate,” he said at a press conference on the First Home Scheme.
At today’s Wexford meeting Chief Executive Officer Tom Enright confirmed that “it is a national policy and the Wexford members have adopted the 70-30 rule,” however, he accepted the policy “causes issues, it is early days yet, but the system may need to be looked at here in Wexford.”
Mr Enright suggested that it is now a matter for the councillors!