herald

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Council uses firm behind illegal homes in North

A CONTROVERSIAL housing agency that was banned from building in the North is operating in Dublin under a different brand, the Herald has learned.

Helm Housing fell foul of the authorities in the North last year after it was found to have built a £1m (€1.2m) apartment complex without being granted planning permission.

An extensive investigation was carried out into the agency in the North, and its Social Development Minister, Alex Attwood, admitted he had "a number of concerns" about the way it operated.

The Herald has now learned that Helm Housing has become prominent in the State and has struck up relationships with several councils here.

Operating under the name Tuath Housing, the organisation has received capital funding here and manages a number of social housing schemes on behalf of Dublin City Council.

It struck a €7.3m deal with Dublin City Council late last year to provide social housing in Clare Village, Malahide.

And Tuath states on its website that it was "able to offer accommodation on a temporary basis to families in need of emergency accommodation as a result of the High Court Order on the Priory Hall Development".

Progressive

A council spokesperson today defended its dealings with Tuath, describing it as a "progressive and innovative organisation".

"Tuath Housing has received funding under the Capital Funding schemes for approved housing bodies for the provision of social housing schemes in Dublin City.

"Tuath also manage some units of social housing on behalf of Dublin City Council.

"Tuath Housing made DCC aware of the rebranding from Helm Ireland prior to the rebranding occurring."

Independent Councillor Mannix Flynn told the Herald that he has "major concern" over the amount of taxpayers' money that goes to the voluntary housing sector.

"This has been of major concern to me for quite some time and that is why a full audit is being carried out in this area.

"A huge amount of taxpayers' money goes into this sector and I believe there is serious questions about what the money is going towards, as well as on the issue of transparency in general."

Tuath could not provide a comment in time for going to press.

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