Eoghan Murphy reappoints Skehan as Housing Agency chair

Focus Ireland says it is concerned at the surprise re-appointment of Conor Skehan as chairman of the Housing Agency, claiming that the move “raises quite significant challenges”.

Focus Ireland says it is concerned at the surprise re-appointment of Conor Skehan as chairman of the Housing Agency, claiming that the move “raises quite significant challenges”.

Mr Skehan was widely expected to step down from his role at the state body and had recently come in for criticism after he claimed some families in emergency housing may be “gaming the system” by declaring themselves as homeless to advance up the housing list.

Those remarks brought swift rebukes from a number of homeless charities which claimed that it was not backed up by evidence.

Yesterday, it emerged that the Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy, had re- appointed Mr Skehan to the role for 2018.

The surprise move was met with unease by some homeless organisations, with Focus Ireland’s director of advocacy, Mike Allen, stating: “The fact that he is now continuing as chair for the year raises quite significant challenges.

“We have been very clear that we think a number of things he said are personal opinions for which there was no evidence.”

Last night, the Department of Housing said: “Dr Conor Skehan was due to step down from the role of chair of the Housing Agency at the end of his term. The department is currently in the process of identifying a suitable replacement.

“In the meantime, the minister has asked Dr Skehan to stay on as chair until a replacement has been appointed. Dr Skehan’s re-appointment has been made on a temporary basis for a period of up to one year. As soon as a suitable replacement has been identified through the normal Public Appointment Service arrangements, the department will then make the necessary order to appoint him or her in Dr Skehan’s place.”

Mr Skehan had also urged that homelessness charities should be subject to “performance targets” to justify the state funding they receive and last year said that the housing crisis was “completely normal”.

The latest homelessness report showed that in November, there were 5,524 homeless adults and 3,333 children living in emergency accommodation.

News: 7

Editorial: 14


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