Sunday 23 October 2016

Coalition decided against building 80 modular homes

Minister Alan Kelly
Minister Alan Kelly

the Government decided against initial proposals to build up to 80 modular homes for homeless families before Christmas, the Herald can reveal.

Correspondence between an official in the Department of the Environment and the chief executives of the four Dublin local authorities shows that a proposal for one site in each area was being considered to deliver the units.

In an email to the chief executives on October 17, Bairbre Nic Aongusa from the department wrote: "As I outlined on Wednesday, the plan is to fast track 20 units before Christmas in Dublin city (and if possible 20 units each in the other three LAs [local authorities])."

In his reply, Chief Executive of Fingal County Council Paul Reid said that while there were sites identified in the Fingal area, they were not shovel-ready and he outlined his stance that only one emergency site should be pursued.

"It is essential that we take the approach as we agreed at our meeting last week," he wrote. "That is that DCC take an emergency approach to 20 ... It would be crazy, not value for money and we could be publicly ridiculed if we had four separate procurement processes running".

Ms Nic Aongusa was urging the heads of the Dublin councils to update the department with the sites that they had selected ahead of the preparation of a memo for a Cabinet meeting to be held the following Tuesday.


She later replied that she agreed with the approach outlined by Mr Reid but said, "we will be discussing the options again with the minister tomorrow".

The day after the Cabinet meeting, Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly announced the Government's plans to fast-track 150 modular homes with 22 to be in place at a site in Ballymun before Christmas.

However the Ballymun units have not been completed due to protests at the site and bad weather which delayed construction.

A spokesperson for the department did not clarify why the Government opted to pursue just one emergency site.

"This exchange of emails took place in advance of the final decision by Government in respect of modular housing. The final decision provided for the fast-tracking of 22 modular homes on a single site located in DCC's functional area.

"Dublin City Council has commenced a tender procedure for the provision of an additional 131 modular homes," he said.

Former Lord Mayor Christy Burke hit out at the fact that the Government did not pursue the four sites as planned.

"It's a shame and I'm disappointed that the Government failed to deliver any units at all before Christmas, leaving women and children cooped up in hotels over Christmas," he told the Herald.

Some 3,500 adults and children were provided with emergency accommodation in Dublin over the festive period.

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