By Neil Michael and Eoin English
Cork City Council is facing a potential annual bill of at least €1m to accommodate people it turned down for council housing following Garda checks.
Under social housing assessment regulations, the council requires applicants to provide details of any convictions under a number of specified statutes relating to anti-social behaviour and public order offences.
This could include individuals who may not have convictions but who may have come to the attention of gardaí and people who may still be before the courts.
However, they may not have declared this on the housing applications.
There are currently 29 families or individuals in this category in Cork City and because they were rejected for council housing, they have instead been placed in private, emergency accommodation.
This brings them in contact with some of the most vulnerable people in society, including homeless single mothers and their children.
On average, private accommodation in Cork City is about €111 a night and the bill for the 29 families or individuals is estimated to be at least €22,000 a week, or more than €1m a year.
At a meeting of Cork City Council on Monday, Fianna Fáil councillor Kenneth O’Flynn asked how many housing applications in emergency accommodation have failed due to Garda vetting checks.
Mr O’Flynn, who is an Independent candidate in the forthcoming general election, was told there were 29 families/individual applicants in homeless services in 2019 that would have been considered by the council for a housing allocation but have not been made an offer due to a “related negative Garda vetting report”.
This was according to Brian Geaney, director of housing, who also said the management of such cases is governed by national guidelines.
He said the issue is being looked at nationally and he expects a statement or new guidance to issue shortly.
However, the Department of Housing told the Irish Examiner that decisions taken locally have nothing to do with its officials.
A spokesperson said: “This is a matter for Cork City Council.”