Government permission for Cork County Council to employ one extra person has been described by a Labour Party councillor as “absolutely disgraceful”.
Noel McCarthy rounded on his colleague, Environment Minister Alan Kelly, who had lifted a staffing embargo to allow local authorities employ 200 people to tackle the country’s social housing crisis.
Northern division councillor Mr McCrathy said the Cork council — the country’s largest local authority — should have been allocated at least 10 places instead of a sole appointment.
He told a divisional meeting in Mallow that Mr Kelly’s decision was absolutely disgraceful.
“The one person we will get will be just snowed under. How is one person going to make a difference?”
Mr McCarthy said that in his home town of Fermoy, the local authority had only one three-bedroom council house available but there were at least 50 people seeking to inhabit it.
“The reality is they have more chance of winning the National Lottery. A lot of landlords are not tax-compliable and others are selling their properties and telling their tenants to vacate them which is causing even more problems.”
“People are in a desperate situation. We need to come up with new ideas to get them housed as soon as possible.
“Minister Kelly needs to know this is a serious problem. There are people who can’t sleep at night because they don’t know where they going to sleep in a few weeks’ time.”
Mr McCarthy said that one woman was recently “crying down the phone” to him about her landlord telling her she would have to leave. The woman had been on the council’s housing waiting list for five years.
Fellow councillor John Paul O’Shea said it was obvious that Mr Kelly had made the recruitment announcement “without consulting anybody”.
A council spokesman said the local authority had not sought sanction for additional staff at the time of the announcement but, since then, it was engaged in seeking approval from the Department of Environment to employ more personnel for the social housing initiative.
“It’s another example of government doing something willy-nilly,” said Mr O’Shea.
He said Mallow was experiencing similar shortages of housing to those in Fermoy.
“There’s huge concern about this. The minister and the Government are doing nothing to solve this.”
Melissa Mullane (SF) said the council’s housing department cannot deal with all the inquiries it was receiving.
Kevin O’Keeffe (FF) said that the Government had announced, in the October budget, millions of euro for social housing but had still not informed the council of its allocation.
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