THE government has been criticised over its social housing policy for Limerick after it was announced Nama will build just 2,000 social houses outside Dublin.
In a Budget which contained cuts to the Universal Social Charge, and increases to pensions, and the minimum wage among other things, there was criticism from opposition TDs and trade union Siptu over the provision of council houses.
In his Budget speech, Finance Minister Michael Noonan announced that he would instruct Nama to build 20,000 social houses by 2020 - but 90% of these will be in the Dublin area.
With more than 5,000 people on the waiting list in Limerick, Fianna Fail TD Willie O’Dea said: “It is grossly inadequate. Two thousand houses to be developed outside Dublin over the next five years is going to result in little or nothing in Limerick.”
Cllr Mike Donegan, chairman of Limerick council’s housing committee added: “I think it is a missed opportunity”.
Local Siptu secretary Paul Gavan added: “The decision to utilise Nama to deliver 20,000 residential units sounds impressive, but the ratio of 90:10 in favour of Dublin leaves little on the table for a city like Limerick and this is disappointing.”
However, Minister Jan O’Sullivan defended the government, saying: “Limerick has been doing well in housing”.
She said the regeneration programme has meant money has been put into housing which would have not happened otherwise”.
Meanwhile, Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell has held meetings with Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald to push her to ensure Limerick gets its “fair share” of the 600 gardai promised in Budget 2016 by Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin.
“Within the last round of recruits who passed out of Templemore, none of these came to Limerick. The gardai are doing fantastic work under Chief Supt David Sheahan, but it is clear more are needed,” said Mr O’Donnell.
Ms O’Sullivan also supported calls for Limerick to get its share of law enforcers.
She pledged to also “make a very strong case” to bring some of the new intake to Shannonside.
“There is a particular issue in rural areas where people do not feel safe in their homes. These areas have to be prioritised,” she said.