Dundalk TD Ruairí Ó Murchú
Dundalk TD Ruairí Ó Murchú has once again urged the Minister for Housing Daragh O’Brien to examine the ‘serious problems’ that Louth County Council has in maintaining its housing stock.
The Sinn Féin deputy was speaking in the Dáil recently during a debate on the government’s Land Development Agency Bill which Sinn Féin TDs voted against.
Deputy Ó Murchú said: "Louth County Council has a huge number of land banks that were bought at very expensive prices.
"I know that the Minister O'Brien has dealt with the council in this regard.
"The council bought these land banks under instruction from the Government back at the height of the boom.
"I know that Louth County Council has met with the Minister and applications will be going in for housing developments that could deal with some of this. However, the entire problem must be dealt with.
"I do not want to hear anything about the local property tax and an increase there because that would barely deal with the cost that Louth County Council is facing.
"The other issue is that we are dealing with a maintenance budget that has been absolutely hammered.
"It is the case that no transfers, or very few, where people need them from a medical perspective, are happening in the likes of Louth County Council. Nothing is happening in relation to proper maintenance works.
"That is not down to Louth County Council and its employees.
"It is just that the finances are not there.
"What Louth County Council has been promised, and what we need information on, is a retrofit scheme or another mechanism for local authorities, which would deal with some of the issues as basic as windows and doors."
The Dundalk TD said he had engaged with Minister O’Brien and was aware of the €967,000 allocated to the council for a small retrofit scheme which would only cover 36 houses, but ‘far more’ is needed in order to carry out planned maintenance.
He said: "We are talking about the long-term erosion we have seen of the powers of local authorities in being able to deliver for the people who live within those local authority areas.
"There has been comment here on compulsory purchase orders of particular properties.
"Louth County Council has been excellent at times in doing this, particularly finding properties that had fallen to rack and ruin and putting them back in play at knock-down prices, which is beneficial both to the people who get the houses and to the finances of Louth County Council and of the State. We need to see more of that happening. It is as simple as that.
"No matter what Minister O'Brien, says, we have no difficulty giving normal people, regular people, the ability to buy and own their own houses and the opportunity not to be completely screwed over with the extortionate rents they have to pay in places such as Dundalk’.