FG Councillor Praises Housing Activists

Eoghan Dalton Reports

A Fine Gael Councillor has praised the Take Back The City movement for its effort to highlight the housing crisis. The group has taken to occupying vacant properties across the country in recent weeks, including the former Presbytery on O’Connell Street in Waterford.While several Fine Gael ministers have criticised the group’s actions, Cllr Seanie Power told last week’s Comeragh District meeting that while he accepted the group’s actions are illegal, he believes they would the best way to bring “an end” to the crisis. Housing was a key concern at the Comeragh meeting, with Cllr John O’Leary (FF) telling the chamber that he has had several representations in recent times from people on the verge of becoming homeless.
“There’s a lot of people on the housing list in the Comeragh area. It’s been compounded with difficult times laying ahead for people, I’m getting a serious number of calls from people, families with children and from landlords who say they’re ending their terms of tenure with them and want them to move on. And look, honestly, they have nowhere else to go. I’ve been on to he housing department in relation to a number of cases and the news is not good.”Waterford City and County Council’s Housing Director, Ivan Grimes told Councillors that he views the high rate of vacant houses in areas such as Kilmacthomas, where over ten per cent of homes are vacant, as a chance to rectify the situation. “For me, that represents an opportunity for us as a Council to use schemes that are available to us to either purchase those houses or bring them in under long-term lease and use those for social housing. It would be far more cost effective to use existing vacant houses and bring them back into use rather than to go off incurring significant expenditure and building new houses.
Meanwhile, local members of the Take Back The City group targeted the eviction court yesterday (Monday) in its latest demonstration. They were joined by members of People Before Profit and Sinn Féin.

A statement said they were turning out for “11 Waterford families who were up before the courts as vulture funds, banks and landlords seek eviction orders against them. If evicted up to 50 people including children face homelessness”.Demonstrators mounted a protest picket outside the Catherine St. Courthouse ahead of court proceedings.
They called for an end to economic evictions and carried placards with the slogans ‘Evict Vulture Funds – Not Local Families ‘ and ‘ Homes for People – Not Private Profit’.

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