Housing department forced to backtrack on minister’s claim

Jimmy Woulfe, Mid-West Correspondent

The department was hoping to use land in the grounds of St Joseph’s psychiatric Hospital in Mulgrave Street for its affordable housing scheme.

On December 13 last year, Mr Ahern, said that the land had been “released to the initiative” after extensive consultations with the Department of Health.

However, a spokesman for the Mid Western Health Board said yesterday it was at present drawing up a plan for development of the land at St Joseph’s Hospital and this did not have any provision for housing.

The spokesman said: “We have not received any notification of the allocation of any of our lands for the purpose of affordable housing.”

A spokeswoman for Mr Ahern yesterday said only that the department was in negotiation with the Department of Health about a site in Limerick.

The spokeswoman said: “The process has begun and we are looking at which five acres site will be made available and negotiations will be slow. Negotiations are going on about a five-acre site at St Joseph’s Hospital, but which five acres has yet to be decided.”

Councillor John Gilligan said junior health minister Tim O’Malley has already stated that any surplus land at St Joseph’s would be sold on the open market and the money put into Mental Health Services.

“Then we have another junior minister saying he has got the land for affordable housing. You can’t use one piece of land for two purposes. I am a member of Limerick City Council’s Strategic Policy Committee and housing and Minister Ahern’s announcement that he had got land for affordable housing in Limerick was news to us,” Mr Gilligan said yesterday.

Limerick City Council has 1,300 applicants on their house waiting list.

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