herald

Sunday 30 April 2017

'If Gilligan wants a house, he will have to reveal income' - Coveney

Simon Coveney
Simon Coveney

Gangland boss John Gilligan is entitled to apply for housing support from the State, but will have to lay bare his sources of income, Housing Minister Simon Coveney has said.

While housing officers would need to scrutinise Gilligan's finances, his criminal history does not automatically disqualify him from state supports, Mr Coveney added.

The Herald revealed yesterday that the drugs lord wants taxpayers to fund a new home for him following the loss of three properties to the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB).

It is understood that Gilligan, whose gang killed journalist Veronica Guerin 20 years ago, wants access to the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), which offers some support for people who have a long-term housing need.

The convicted drug trafficker presented himself at council offices in Blanchardstown last week, claiming he is facing homelessness.

News of his claim coincided with the announcement by Mr Coveney of the extension of the HAP scheme to Dublin.

The minister said the roll-out was a "hugely significant milestone in the development of this new social housing support".

Assessment

Asked about Gilligan's plan to avail of HAP through Fingal County Council, Mr Coveney said: "I don't want to talk too much about John Gilligan. All I can say is that anybody is entitled to apply for HAP.

"They will go through a housing needs assessment. If they qualify, they qualify. That will be a decision for a housing officer."

He added that the needs assessment would be "primarily based on income".

"Obviously there needs to be a credible explanation as regards income and where it comes from," he said. "Whatever housing officer is assessing John Gilligan, they'll have to make appropriate decisions around that."

Under the HAP scheme, local authorities pay landlords directly, with the tenant making a weekly contribution based on their ability to pay.

Gilligan is believed to have raked in millions during the 1990s, when he was flooding the country with drugs. He spent 17 years in prison for drug trafficking and was released in 2014.

The 65-year-old has been living on the grounds of the Jessbrook Equestrian Centre in recent month, but the CAB is preparing to seize it on the back of the court judgment.

Ms Guerin's brother Jimmy, who is a councillor in the Fingal area, said he will try to block Gilligan getting any payment towards social housing.

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