Cllr Tómas Sharkey says that ‘sweeping changes’ are needed within Louth County Council’s Housing Section following a report from County Manager Philomena Poole on the Deloitte audit of 2010 social housing purchases.
“This report gives us an ugly picture of Louth’s Housing Section, “ Louth Sinn Féin Councillor Tomás Sharkey.
“It proves that my pursuit of the issue of senior housing staff being involved in selling their own houses to the Council was right. “The audit by Deloitte raised the issues of employees negotiating on their own behalf with persons with whom they worked on a day-to-day basis and attending meetings at which their properties were being discussed.
“I have been raising my concerns about this type of practice for some time now.
“I believe this report has been carefully worded to give a stinging criticism of how the Housing Section has been managed over the years.
“I want to thank the brave and careful work of ordinary staff who assisted the audit and subsequent inquiry.
“It is incredible to read that the results of house inspections undertaken by the Senior Executive Engineer were not documented in a formal report.
“That Senior Executive Engineer sold his own house in Tullagee, Knockbridge to the Council at a cost to the taxpayer of €142,562.50 and with an additional refurbishment cost of €62,662.03.
Inspections by the Senior Executive Engineer were not formally documented.
There was no record that the houses being bought satisfied a demand from our housing waiting list.
In one instance the Council’s solicitor was instructed to proceed with the purchase of a house before the Director’s Order was signed to buy it.
There is no record as to how the Council became aware of houses being available for purchase.
“The report from Louth County Manager confirms the grave mistrust that the public holds of our Housing Section.
“I welcome the fact that there will be a review of procedures into house allocations, maintenance requests, purchase of units, Rental Accommodation Scheme, Long Term Leasing and Housing Assistance Payments.
“There now needs to be a sweeping change in our Council. Policies and procedures must be made and followed.
“This document was prepared by Ms Philomena Poole who will leave her post as County Manager after only eight months.
“I want to thank her for helping prepare the ground for reform in Louth,” Cllr Sharkey concluded.