Pádraig Mac Lochlainn complains of lack of public housing with figures showing more Donegal council houses built or acquired in 2002 than over the past decade

More council houses were built or acquired in Donegal in a single year just after the turn of the century than over the past decade, Sinn Féin T.D. Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has claimed.

Tuesday, 6th April 2021, 12:09 pm

The Buncrana-based representative said the government needs to do more to support and promote the development of public housing.

“In 2002, as I have learned, 560 council homes were built or acquired across County Donegal. In the past 11 years, it was 543 council houses. Therefore, in 11 years, in Donegal, 543 were either built or acquired, although in 2002, in one year, more were built or acquired,” said Deputy Mac Lochlainn.

He said the dearth of public housing had left thousands in the county dependent on private rented accommodation.

During a Dáil debate just before the Easter recess he remarked: “As I speak today, more than 2,300 families are renting in the private sector in Donegal under the housing assistance payment or the rental accommodation scheme. This means that other families are struggling to find private rental accommodation and, if they are able to find it, they are paying way more than they would expect in the economy in Donegal.

“What I am painting is a picture of intentionally designed failure on public housing.

“I appeal to the Minister in his wrap-up speech today to address what will be done in my county of Donegal – I am sure every other Deputy can give similar examples - to address this serious failure that impacts so profoundly and creates the difficulties that are being dealt with in this legislation. As I said, in one year, 2002, 560 houses were built or acquired and, in the past 11 years, it was 543. That is a damning indictment of the failure,” he said.

Housing minister Darragh O’Brien did not respond to Deputy Mac Lochlainn’s claims directly but said the government has put supports in place for renters.

“Fundamentally we are ensuring a proportionate response to what is happening right now. It is about extending further protection to the people who need it most and whose income has been affected by the pandemic, with the associated risk of going into rent arrears, or who are in rent arrears already. Through a self-declaration, they can get protection until 12 July this year,” he stated.