Limerick is seen as the forgotten county, Independent Senator James Heffernan told the Upper House. Speaking during a debate on tourism, he said connectivity is vital for the region. Travelling from Dublin to Killarney can be a mission in terms of going through Limerick.
“The city has had a very successful year being the Capital of Culture,” he said. “It got off to a shaky start but things were ironed out. I ask the Department to support the 2020 bid for the European Capital of Culture. People in Limerick often feel forgotten about when it comes to the Government. The fact that the city and the estuary are not part of the Wild Atlantic Way stuck in many people’s craws.”
“I am not sure whether there is a proposal on the desk of the Minister (Paschal Donohoe) because I have been in contact with people in Hungary who seem to have a solution for the N20 that could be delivered before an election,” he continued.
“I would like to know if that is something the Department is considering because all the major arterial roads that come into the country from Waterford, Tipperary, Kerry and Cork are second class. They are not up to the same standard as services to Waterford, Kilkenny, Dublin, Galway or the other cities. That is something that must be developed.”
In his area, Senator Heffernan said they were trying hard to develop tourism. “There is the Ballyhoura Fáilte in my own area and there are hostels and self-catering cottages in Ballyorgan,” he said.
“We have one of the finest bike trails in Europe. We have Glenosheen and the walled town of Kilmallock, Glenstal Abbey in Murroe, de Valera’s Bruree and Adare, of course, which is the jewel in Limerick’s tourist crown. We need to attract people to the regions. The issues of connectivity and the road network are vital if we are to further develop tourism in the area. I would like the Minister to go some way towards addressing that.”
Cap on rent supplement making people homeless – Willie O’Dea
The cap on rent supplements is driving more and more people into homelessness, Limerick Fianna Fail Deputy Willie O’Dea told the Dáil.
He said the recent survey carried out by the Simon Community found, startlingly, that seven out of eight properties available for rent are priced beyond the reach of those in receipt of rent support.
In the case of single people, 99 out of 100 properties are beyond the reach of those in receipt of rent support. In the case of a couple, 98 out of 100 properties are beyond the reach of those in receipt of rent support. In the case of a couple with two children, 97 out of 100 properties are simply beyond their reach.
“We have a very severe housing crisis which has given rise to a situation where 3,143 people are living in emergency accommodation, including almost 1,200 children,” said Fianna Fail’s welfare spokesman.
“Unfortunately, that does not tell the whole story. It is only the tip of the iceberg. Many people in this country for one reason or another, sometimes due to lack of space or other reasons, are not in emergency accommodation but are living with relatives in completely unsuitable conditions such as overcrowding or circumstances where babies or young children are living in the same household as very old people.”
Deputy O’Dea said that if Minister of State for Social Protection Kevin Humphreys had time he would take him on a tour of his constituency.
“I would take him into house after house in Limerick city where those conditions pertain,” he said.
“In many of those houses he would find that patience is literally at breaking point. The tensions involved in such situations are enormous. It is difficult to imagine a worse possible environment in which to rear children, and many young children are in such unsuitable accommodation.”
In response to the difficulties, Minister of State Humphreys said the Department is providing a case by case response to ensure access to housing, curtail rental inflation and ensure value for money.
“Some 2,100 people or families have accessed rent limit increases,” he said.
“The measures implemented provide for increased flexibility in assessing customers’ individual accommodation needs through the national tenancy sustainment framework introduced earlier this year. Under this approach, each tenant’s circumstances are considered on an individual basis and rents are being increased above the rent limits, as appropriate. This measure applies to both existing rent supplement recipients and new applicants to the scheme.”