Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy turned the sod at the site of 26 new social houses in Clonmel on Friday.
Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy turned the sod at the site of 26 new social houses in Clonmel on Friday afternoon.
Contractors Semiton are set to commence work imminently on the site at Glenconnor Heights, with the two and three bed houses set to be complete by early 2020.
Despite his expected visit to Clonmel been cast in doubt on Thursday after he got food poisoning, Minister Murphy said it was “great to be here” and described the 26 new homes in Clonmel as “no small thing”.
Addressing a gathering made up of public representations, Tipperary County Council officials and contractors, Minister Murphy said: “The ambition and vision is absolutely integral if we are to get things done. It’s great to see the plan for this site - 26 new homes is no small thing! It’s going to make a big difference for a lot of people”.
Minister Murphy praised Fine Gael general election candidate Garret Ahearn for insisting that he turn the sod at the Clonmel site, while applauding Tipperary councillors for their work in getting the project over the line.
“[Elected representatives] are doing a great deal of work to help people in this community. I know that they have worked incredibly hard to get these new homes built and that’s really important so congratulations to everyone that has made it possible”.
Minister Murphy was at one of the Simon Community’s family hubs in Limerick on Friday morning and used the experience to reiterate to the Tipperary gathering that the Government is moving in the right direction in tackling the homeless crisis.
“I got the chance to meet a young mother with a two-year-old kid. She had been living with her boyfriend, they had a kid, that relationship hadn’t worked out. She had then got into a tenancy, got into a bit of difficulty and needed Housing Assistance Payments but the landlord she was with wouldn’t take it. When she was negotiating with him to take it and something else, he passed away suddenly and she had nowhere to live. She couldn't find anywhere to live, not because she was a full-time carer for her child but because she was on her own. She was in a hotel for three weeks which isn’t appropriate at all and she has been in a hub in Limerick with three months. The hub she’s in is one of the best in the country because everyone that was in that hub when it opened up eight or nine months ago are now in homes. The hub programme is working - when families go into hubs they get all the care and support they need. No family that has left that hub has gone back into homeless.
“How do we get them into homes? We build them! And that’s what this is about! The massive State programme of building is now currently underway, public and private people working together to deliver homes. We have to provide homes for everyone.
“When we talk about building homes, we are talking about building places in communities as well - build or rebuild places that have been damaged in the last number of years,” Minister Murphy continued.
Speaking to The Nationalist, Minister Murphy said Fine Gael have picked “two of the best people” - Garret Ahearn and Mary Newman Julian - to run in the next General Election in Tipperary. He said that the Government putting taxpayers money into the new Clonmel homes is “really important”, continuing:
“One of the big things that we did as a Government was Project Ireland 2040 which is a whole new vision for this country that will see 75% of all future growth over the next 20 years outside of Dublin, 50% of all future growth outside of our cities and that means we need to refocus on places like Clonmel to see how we can make Clonmel work for the people who want to live and work here and have the quality of life that they should have because we are a very successful country in many ways. We have recovered from the crash very quickly but there are a lot of social issues that we have to cover - houses is one and education is another key one. Education has been a hallmark of our success for decades and we have to continue to have that focus up and down the country and in Clonmel”.
Minister Murphy described Sinn Féin’s motion of no confidence in him as a “stunt”, adding:
“In 2016, we had an election and parties had a chance to form a Government and Sinn Féin ran for the hills. They had no interest in taking on the responsibility of the housing crisis. We went into Government, set up a dedicated department of housing with a dedicated minister and ring-fenced six billion euro of taxpayers money to invest in housing. That money, that investment, that time and those resources are now bearing fruit in thousands of homes being built up and down the country but of course we have to do more. There is an unacceptable number of people in hotels and emergency accommodation and that is my utmost priority and that’s what we are working towards at the moment and building new homes is a part of that. Sinn Féin's motion brings nothing to the table - it’s a stunt! It doesn’t bring one new home or even one new idea that the Oireachtas could agree on and implement that would help people.”
Prior to the turning of the sod, Minister Murphy was given a tour of Kickham Barracks in Clonmel by Tipperary general election candidate Mary Newman Julian. "The plans are in place for Kickham Barracks and the objective of Minister Murphy's visit was to get more support behind the plan and to act as a catalyst to get the Garda station built, which will in turn be the catalyst for the further redevelopment of the entire site. It is being held up because there are so many parties involved, but Minister Murphy has committed to bringing the matter to the relevant people in Dublin. The site has huge potential and its development will transform the town of Clonmel and be fantastic but we need to get it moving," Mary Newman Julian added.
Read more in The Nationalist on Wednesday.
Minister Eoghan Murphy with Mary Newman Julian at Kickham Barracks.