7,700 vacant properties while 2,646 families await homes, ‘no reason’ homeless, mica-afflicted and refugees can’t be housed

Almost 8,000 properties in Donegal are lying vacant while 2,646 families remain on the housing waiting list, Donegal T.D. Thomas Pringle has said.

Deputy Pringle told the Dáil there is no reason all of them, alongside families whose homes have been damaged by mica, and displaced Ukrainian refugees, cannot all be housed.

“In Donegal, 7,700 properties are lying vacant while 2,646 families are on the housing list in the county. There is no doubt that there is a direct link between dereliction and the current housing crisis.

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"There is also no doubt that the whole us-versus-them narrative is one that has been fuelled by this Government unfortunately. For this, it should be ashamed.

Thomas Pringle

"There is no reason we cannot house all those on the housing list in Donegal, displaced refugees and all those affected by the mica crisis, who are required to live elsewhere while their houses are being rebuilt.

"I have been saying this for a while now but we need to figure out what we are going to do about the many families who will be displaced due to mica,” said Deputy Pringle during Leaders’ Questions.

The Independent T.D. said he feared the housing situation will only deteriorate as the mica problem matures.

He spoke of what one family with a seven-year-old child with a disability is enduring after they contacted him to state: “The possibility of us finding a rental property with wheelchair accessibility is going to be non-existent and a mobile home is going to be completely out of the question for us in our situation.

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"Our existing home may not be in great shape but is accessible for our son [at the moment]. We are a young normal family from Donegal that seem to be stuck in this unfortunate situation like so many others.”

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He urged the government to act.

"The Government needs to pull the finger out and put a plan in place. I know of many people in Donegal who have offered their accommodation to Ukrainian refugees and were refused.

"Is there no way we could set up a system to allow these people to offer their accommodation to mica families who need temporary accommodation while their houses are rebuilt?

"We have shown that these systems can be put in place. Why then are we not using them to help Donegal families? What is the Government going to do to address the rental crisis faced by displaced mica families in Donegal?” he asked.

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin replied by stating that ‘huge activity has been under way on the housing front’.

"We will exceed our targets on the Housing for All plan this year. We will get more than 24,600 houses but that is not enough. We need to get to 33,000 houses per annum. Next year’s target is 29,000, as per the plan,” said Deputy Martin.

The Taoiseach told Deputy Pringle that Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien is due to meet Donegal County Council Chief Executive John McLaughlin next week.

"The Minister will meet the CEO of Donegal County Council next week to discuss a range of issues.

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"The mica scheme is one for the long haul in the sense that a set number of homes is coming forward. I think about 300 have been identified as needing major works,” he said.