herald

Wednesday 16 January 2019

Sinn Fein divided over City Council's prefab plan

A MAJOR split has emerged in Sinn Fein over controversial plans to accommodate homeless people in prefabs built on derelict sites.

The Herald yesterday revealed that a number of the party's Dublin politicians are prepared to back the plans as an emergency response to the homeless crisis.

The party's housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis confirmed on Newstalk radio that he could not rule out pledging his support until the final proposals are put forward by Dublin City Council.

"I can't dismiss anything, that would be wrong - to dismiss anything, we have a crisis," he said.

This week, a Sinn Fein strategist told a group of councillors that while they should not "publicly" back the plans, privately they may be required to offer their support in return for certain conditions being met.

"However, if the council sets them up as emergency measures we should also not oppose them but ensure that the living conditions are better than the hotels and B&Bs currently in use and that they are temporary," according to correspondence seen by this newspaper.

The revelation that some members of the party are in favour of prefabs as an emergency response has sparked an internal party row.

Dublin's Deputy Lord Mayor Larry O'Toole, a Darndale councillor, said he is not prepared to back the proposals under any circumstance.

"I'm totally opposed to this measure as it would be treating people as second class citizens," he told the Herald.

"There should be funds made available for the adequate housing of people, where they are homeless or on the corporation waiting list. But I'm totally opposed to this measure. I think it's an insult to people to ask them to live in prefabs on derelict sites."

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said the government is determined to address the housing shortage in the capital.

Mr Kenny said funds have been made available for the reconstruction of 1,800 units in Dublin and that he is expecting report from a Cabinet housing sub-commitee shortly.

"This will relieve in some small way the problem. But you cannot deal with it unless you have blocks and concrete and houses being built," he added.

noconnor@herald.ie

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