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  • Northside West

Housing protesters face legal action

Wednesday, 11th March, 2020 9:00am
Housing protesters face legal action

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Housing protesters face legal action

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FINGAL County Council believes that legal action will be required to end a protest that has halted construction work on a new housing development in Mulhuddart in Dublin West for almost two months.

The council’s Director of Housing, Margaret Geraghty, strongly rejected claims circulating on social media about how local authority homes are being allocated. 

Speaking at a recent monthly meeting of the Blanchardstown-Mulhuddart/Castleknock/Ongar Area Committee, Ms Geraghty said that legal action is now required to get building resumed at the site and stressed that the issue was holding up progress on other council housing  projects.

She said that Clúid Housing and Fingal County Council are working in partnership to deliver 65 new homes at Church Road, Mulhuddart, to families, older persons and individuals with a disability who are on the council’s housing list. Ms Geraghty completely rejected allegations being made by the protesters in relation to the allocation of these houses.

She stated: “Let me be absolutely clear, these homes have not yet been allocated and Fingal County Council has long-established policies in relation to allocating housing to those in need of social housing support in accordance with our allocations schemes which is approved by our elected councillors.

“Households eligible for social housing support are allocated a home suitable to their needs in ‘date in need’ order. This means that, over time, a family or individual moves towards the top of the list. This is the way homes are allocated in Fingal and will continue to be allocated in Fingal and it has proved to be the most fair method of providing housing.” 

She added: “I am alarmed and dismayed at the information that this group is putting out on social media that suggests this is not the case. Let me be really clear: this council has a strong reputation for getting things done and working hard for the wider community. As Director of Housing, that is my commitment too and anything that suggests that the council is not treating its citizens fairly and transparently is simply not the correct facts and this must be challenged.

“The council is responsible for meeting the housing needs of the community and, in Fingal, that is a community which includes the elderly, the disabled, the homeless, the Travelling community and also our growing migrant population.

“The council has recently published a Migrant Integration and Social Cohesion Strategy to ensure that Fingal County Council meets the needs of our growing and diverse population and also sets out our commitment to promote migrant integration in the county.”

Ms Geraghty told councillors that her officials met with the contractor, Clúid and a group representing the protesters on February 14. Council officials then met with a number of applicants for social housing from the Mulhuddart area on February 17. She said they updated the applicants on their list positions and explained to them that, in the same way as any other family or individual in need of housing support, they would be made an offer based on date in need, which is the date they were deemed eligible to go on the housing list.

“This is in accordance with the terms of the Council’s Allocations Scheme,” said Ms Geraghty, who added that information in relation to the provisions of the Housing Assistance Payment Scheme (HAP) was also provided. 

“Unfortunately, some of the group said they were not interested in hearing information in relation to HAP and protesters who accompanied them said that they wanted their ‘forever homes’ and would not accept HAP’. Again, let me clear: any household who rents a property under the HAP Scheme remains on the housing waiting list and their date in need does not change.”

Ms Geraghty confirmed that the contractor and Clúid have been advised that legal action is now required to deal with the issue in accordance with the contract. She said she was grateful for the support of the councillors and TDs, the Irish Council for Social Housing and Clúid who are all working closely with Fingal County Council to get construction started again at Church Road.

The former brown field site in Mulhuddart was offered to Clúid Housing on condition that it would be designed for the sole use of social housing. Clúid sought permission to develop the site through a Part VIII planning application, which was granted in July 2017 by Fingal County Council.

A contractor was appointed after a public tendering process and construction started on site in November 2018 and was due to be completed in August of this year. However, due to protesters blocking access to the site, it is not now known when or if construction will be completed.

In a statement, Clúid said it looks increasingly unlikely that the homes will ever be handed over to people on the social housing waiting list.

“The delay will also add costs to the project and is now directly delaying the construction of other social housing developments across the country,” the housing body stated. 

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