Ger Walsh Column 02/07/17 : the chronicle.ie

Ger Walsh Column 02/07/17

| July 2, 2017

Joyces   3   cmyk

When is a house not a house?

When is being provided with a house not being provided with a house. That is the crux that some local councillors are trying to get their heads around at the moment as they receive complains from some constituents who have been accommodated under the Housing Assistance Payments scheme (HAP).

The scheme involves the Council (taxpayer really) paying the rent for private accommodation for people who qualify to be on the local authority housing list.

The tenant just pays the same amount as they would if they were living in a Council house. In theory these people still remain on the actual housing list but in reality they are unlikely to qualify because their housing needs are deemed to have been met and the list would need to shrink to a fairly low level before they would get priority.

But it seems that many of these people believe they should actually retain priority over people who have no homes but joined the list relatively recently. And they have their supporters among the councillors.

The argument is that decades ago people could look forward to renting a local authority house and staying in it all their lives, eventually purchasing it outright and people today should have the same option.

The piece that is missing here, of course, is the lack of the type of Council house that was around in the seventies and prior to that when huge local authority housing estates were built in every town in the country.

That is not going to happen again, at least not in the foreseeable future, so people will have to make up their mid. Is a HAP house, substantially paid for by the taxpayer, such a bad option that they would be better continuing to keep their families in terrible conditions in the hope that one day a house owned by the local authority will come their way?

 

Massive supporter for hurlers

There has been a great sense of anticipation in the county over the past few weeks, ever since the hurlers achieved that great victory over Kilkenny in Wexford Park.

It is absolutely amazing how success on the hurling field can lift the people of this county and it is also remarkable that the county team can command such support among all the generations.

It’s remarkable because most of the time there has been very little for fans to cheer and little success to encourage new generations of young lads into the sport.

However, despite the lack of success and the many heartbreaks, the love of hurling is a strong today as it was in 1950s when the fans did have plenty of success to cheer. Well I probably tell a little lie there because I wasn’t around the in 50s but it is fair to say that the appetite for hurling is really strong today.

It is all that is on everyone’s lips at the moment as they busy themselves making plans to travel to the match.

‘Are you on the first train?’ ‘No we’re getting a bus’ is a common exchange at the moment. With extra trains, many many buses hired and thousands preparing to make the journey by car, it promises to be a really fun day and if there is a successful outcome it is a day which will live in the memories of supporters for many years.

Success would create real stars of many on the team and be a first step towards them replacing the men of ’96 who have held the stage now for twenty one years.

I am sure that they would all be only too happy to make way for a new set of Wexford hurling heroes.

 

Kehoe and D’Arcy backed a winner and collected

In politics as in so many other aspects of life it’s all about backing the right horse and both of the county’s Fine Gael TDs not only backed Leo Varadakr’s campaign for the leadership of Fine Gael but they did it very early in play.

Michael D’Arcy had been a key member of the Varadkar backroom team from the time it was set up while Paul Kehoe was on board for about a year.

Both, it appears, were busy behind the scenes locking in the support of TDs. However, neither could really have been assured of a Ministerial position at the end of it all given that they shared a constituency.

In the end Paul Kehoe retained his job in Defence and Michael D’Arcy was appointed a Junior Minister at the Department of Finance. It could hardly have worked out any better for them.

While Paul Kehoe continues to sit at the Cabinet table D’Arcy will be very pleased to finally make it to ministerial ranks and will be especially pleased to have landed a job in the Department of Finance.

He will be in charge of the insurance industry among other things and given the ever increasing cost of insurance he will certainly have widespread public support as he battles the insurance industry.

Having two Minister in the county is a big plus. While the South East does not have a senior minister there are now four Junior Ministers in the area and that should go some way towards restoring the clout which some people feel may have been lacking over the past year.

 

What is litter?

Litter and the protection of the environment remains an important task for the Co. Council and they have just published a Draft Little management Plan to take us up to 2019.

The big problem, of course, is that so many members of the public simply have no regard for the environment and dump indiscriminately all across the county.

There will be carrot and stick combined in the approach to try to deal with the problem and there is a range of initiatives contained in the plan which is a fine piece of work.

What caught my eye, however, was the heading on page three of the plan which asked ‘What is Litter?’

You might say that they would know the answer to that question and wouldn’t really need to be asking it at this stage. And of course they did have the answer as defined by the Litter Pollution Act1997: Litter is: Any substance or object whether or not intended as waste (other than waste within the meaning of the Waste Management Act 1996 which is properly consigned for disposal) that, when deposited in a place other than a litter receptacle or other place lawfully designed for the deposit, is likely to become unsightly, deleterious, nauseous or unsanitary, whether by itself or with any other such substance or object and regardless  of its size or volume or the extent of the deposit.

So now you know.

No wonder it takes so long to get legislation through the Dail because what all that means is simply this: Litter is waste in the wrong place. It can be anything from a cigarette butt on the pavement, a black bag of refuse in a forestry clearing, a mattress on the side of the road or dog fouling in a playground.

Of course that would be much too simple for legislation.

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The on-off refugee centre

The mis-fire over the establishment of a refugee reception centre in the old Cedars hotel in Rosslare has raised some eyebrows.

The decision was announced to local councillors at the start of last week and was almost immediately made public.

I understand that while in public there was a welcome for the centre on condition that all the support services, including an extension to the local primary school, be put in place, the reaction behind the scenes was rather less polite or welcoming.

There was, therefore, a rather large sigh of relief a few days later when it was announced that the plan would not go ahead because the Department of Justice had not actually leased the building from the owners who were now unwilling to lease it.

 

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