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Morgan castigates Housing Minister over level of local housing authority stock

29 April, 2004

Sinn Féin spokesperson on the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Arthur Morgan T.D. today castigated Minister of State with responsibility for Housing Noel Ahern for the Government's inaction in the face of the alarming decline in the level of local authority housing stock. Deputy Morgan accused the Government of having no strategy to house the 130,000 people currently on housing waiting lists. He was questioning Minister of State Ahern on the findings contained in the recent report of the Central Statistics Office on the 2002 Census 'Volume 13 - Housing' which shows that the number of Local Authority Housing rented dwellings has declined in every census since 1961 and has now hit an all time low of 88,000 or 6.9% of all housing units.

Deputy Morgan said:

"Is the Minister of State and indeed the Government not alarmed that at a time when we have such a large number of people on local authority waiting lists that housing stock has fallen to an all time low? This is a clear indicator of the absolute failure of this government, which has been in office since 1997, to address the severe lack of social housing.

"The funding announced by the Minister last week was merely a typical Fianna Fáil election stunt and will only provide for the construction of 5,500 dwellings. This is pitiful when one considers that there are 48,000 or 130,000 families on the housing waiting lists. Ad hoc announcements of funding immediately prior to an election does not indicate that this Government has any real intention of providing for the housing needs of those people - many of whom have been waiting for years - on local authority waiting lists. It is scandalous that the Government does not have a strategy to tackle the housing crisis.

"Is the Minister aware that many Local Authorities are increasingly abandoning their responsibilities for housing? This is the case with Dublin City Council which has indicated its intention to get out of its responsibilities for housing altogether within the next ten years. Other local authorities are not replacing stock which is being sold to tenants, or they are handing over flat complexes to voluntary housing associations or are entering into Public Private Partnerships for regeneration projects which do not include any replacement social housing.

"This Government's record on housing is abysmal and it looks unlikely to improve as long as Minister of State Noel Ahern remains at the helm"ENDS

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