By David Raleigh
Houses that have been left uninhabitable by recent flooding may be demolished and rebuilt in other locations, the Minister for Housing, Jan O'Sullivan, said today.
The Minister was speaking while visiting flood-hit St Mary's Park, Limerick, alongside her Labour party colleague Joan Burton.
More than 300 homes in the estate were badly effected by unprecedented flooding last week, and the cleanup cost is expected to run into tens of millions.
However, some residents may now find they will have to leave their homes for good if the government decides to demolish houses and rebuild them on higher ground.
"One side of St Munchin's Street [in St Mary's Park] -- which is the side nearest the river -- is due for demolition anyway, so it doesn't make any sense that there should be major work done on those houses," Minister O'Sullivan said.
"We hope to fast track it, it's very early stages as yet."
The issue will be how to manage the movement of people living in both private and local authority houses, which already come under the Regeneration of St Mary's Park, the Minister explained.
She said council officials had been in discussion with residents in both types of housing for some time.
"One of the options is that there will be rebuilding done on the higher part of the Island – there will be new houses built there. So, in some cases people may have to go to temporary solution for a period of time until there is a new house built in the area.
"Others may choose to take vacancies that arise in their areas of choice, which might not be in the King's Island, but it might be fairly near or fairly adjacent to it."
Minister O'Sullivan said there will be limited new building in the area, but only on the high ground. The existing regeneration plan aims to knock down the outer area of St Munchin's St and others.
She said residents were being consulted on how to move forward with the upgrading of the estate, and are being offered a number of options, including subsidies for those who wish to re-house themselves.
"There is a lesser sum of money if the council rehouses them, or if they are taking a new house that will be rebuilt in the area, that's another option again," she said.
Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, who was also visiting the area, said the Office of Public Works would also be consulted on whether it was feasible to rebuild in a particular spot. She added that all those issues would need to be negotiated with householders.