Co. Council Diary 01/10/17 : the chronicle.ie

Co. Council Diary 01/10/17

| October 1, 2017

Robbie and George in a Phone Box, Kathleen’s pistols and Tom’s socks as battle rages over housing

When Kathleen Codd Nolan spoke of pistols, swords and the like which had been discovered on Vinegar Hill, Council boss Tom Enright might have been forgiven for asking her if she had brought any down to the meeting in her handbag because it was a day when the man in charge came under the type of attack he has not faced since taking up his post in Wexford over four years ago.

Tom, fresh from his attendance at the big housing summit in Dublin the previous Friday, provided councillors with a bit of an update on the plans to deal with the housing problem. He was happy that the Department had a full understanding of the situation and that the necessary money was being provided. He revealed too that the Department was very happy with the scale of the plans which the Council has in place to deal with the issue. He accepted the need to scale up the construction side of things but warned it was important not to rush in with short term solutions which would cause long term problems.

Well, the Chief Executive might have been happy and so might the Department but others were not, particularly Lisa McDonald the Fianna fail councillor, who launched a verbal tirade against the top table in general and Mr Enright in particular.

In forceful and loud tones she dismissed many of the so called solutions currently in the Council’s programme including the Housing Assistance Payment scheme which she said bluntly was not the answer.

And she had a clear message for the Chief Executive. Just get on with the job, build houses, don’t delay, you could start tomorrow, you don’t need planning permission. She had a lot more to say as well but that was the general message.

At this point Kathleen Codd Nolan’s guns and swords from Vinegar Hill, even if they are hundreds of years old, might have come in handy for those on the top table to help them repel the attack from the floor because no sooner had Lisa concluded than Davy Hynes began to take aim. ‘HAP is a joke’, he declared before demanding a special meeting on the issue.

Joe Sullivan then waded in. They were in crisis, he said and had to ‘pull up our socks’.

Tom didn’t touch his socks but calmly led the counter attack on behalf of the Council officials and staff. They were at the coal face of the problem; they knew about the problem; they were not aloof; they were dealing with tragic cases every day’.

But the problem was complex and the solutions were not simple. For example many of the so called vacant properties as measured by the last census simply did not exist. It seems many households simply did not fill in the forms on the night. And CPOs would not provide an instant solution either. They were slow and complex to deal with, said the man in charge. But the Council was aware, sympathetic and had a plan.

But just when he might have thought that he had pushed back the rebels the charge began again. Michael Sheehan knew of a Council house in Ross that was vacant for a year; Anthony Kelly dismissed the plan as providing ‘only a handful of houses’ and he wanted a return to the fifties when the Council built ‘hundreds of houses’. Then Mary Farrell waded in ‘HAP is a disaster’ she charged.

At this point Mr Enright must have considered taking Joe Sullivan’s advice and reaching for his socks to see if he could produce a few houses from them. But he resisted the temptation and Chairman John Hegarty quelled the disturbance by calling the tea break.

But if you think the waiting list for houses at the moment is too long then spare a thought for the poor people of Fethard. Martin Murphy was interested in the progress of the Sewerage there. It’s been a long wait for the people of the popular South Wexford tourist destination————twenty five years in fact. Yes that how long the saga has dragged on. Martin didn’t reveal what they had been using for toilets in the meantime.

However, let’s hope they have not been tempted to use a telephone box because that is the new base for the Labour Party, according to Cllr. Ger Carthy. The Our Lady’s Island man was not too amused when George Lawlor suggested he should not be making nominations on behalf of independents, hinting, but not saying outright, that the 2014 poll topper was Fianna Fail in disguise. But Carthy was in no mood to take lectures from the ‘phone box party’ which probably explains why George’s Labour colleague on the council, Robbie Ireton has gone to such lengths to lose weight over the past year. Now the two can be comfortably accommodated in a phone box, particularly those new open-plan ones.

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