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Regeneration debacle a result of Government privatisation policy – Ó Snodaigh

8 July, 2008 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Speaking in the Dáil this evening on a Private Members Motion on the provision of Social Housing Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD criticised the use of Public Private Partnerships to develop social housing called said the current regeneration debacle is a result of the Government's privatisation policy.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "The pulling out of McNamara Construction from these contracts has caused a crisis in the communities that were due for regeneration. A key factor in this crisis is that the government has allowed it to happen by attempting to privatise functions which are essentially the responsibility of the state through local authorities such as Dublin City Council.

"Sinn Féin consistently warned that developing social housing using Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) was not a viable option. Private developers have no interest in catering for a social need. This charade has gone on for too long and the government needs to recognise this.

"Regeneration was flagged as the answer to all the problems within certain communities who received nothing from the Celtic Tiger. We were told in a fanfare of announcements on regeneration projects that the government was finally addressing the needs of socially disadvantaged areas.

"Now the Celtic Tiger has drawn its last breath, the most vulnerable in Irish society are the first to lose out. This is not just regeneration of buildings; it is the regeneration of whole communities and children's futures.

"PPPs are a 'buy now, pay later' deal. They are always, without fail, more expensive. The Government can always borrow at a better rate than the private sector, so what purpose can a PPP serve other than to ensure that the people who bank-roll the policy maker's parties get the better end of the deal?

"Minister why not set up regeneration companies underwritten by government? At a rough estimate it has been stated that €900 million is required to proceed with all five projects. Nearly 500 social units were to be provided, over 1,000 private and several hundred affordable with ancillary services, shops, community centres, and council offices.

"A state company or City Council Company could build, then sell both private and affordable home recouping the social housing cost from the Department of the Environment. At the same time succeeding in creating employment for hundreds of construction workers for up to five years, thus keeping vulnerable skilled workers off the dole queues and stimulating a flagging industry. Combined the net return for the state from tax returns, forgone dole payments and proceeds from the sale of private apartments would be near or over the original figure of €900 million.

"Vision is what is needed Minister to deliver for the communities dependent on you for a decent home in a decent environment. The people of Dublin cannot be left in limbo over the summer months. You must act, and you must act today." ENDS

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