Wicklow Sinn Féin County Councillor and General Election candidate John Brady has slammed Wicklow Labour TD Anne Ferris for trying to pass the blame for the housing crisis in Wicklow onto the housing staff in Wicklow Council and members of the Housing Special Policy Committee (SPC). He labelled her PR stunt as a cynical manoeuvre to try being relevant in Wicklow, a County that has effectively washed its hands of the Labour Party by rejecting all their candidates in the Local Elections.
Cllr Brady said “There is a housing crisis and thankfully most now acknowledge that fact. Sinn Féin and I have been speaking about this for many years now and demanding that the government change their policy of not building social housing. The crisis has however reached boiling point with families presenting as homeless to the council on an almost daily basis. The causes of the crisis are very apparent, a lack of social housing, caps to Rent Supplement and family home being repossessed by the banks. These are all issues that should and could be addressed by the government; instead we have Labour TD Anne Ferris trying to make herself relevant in the debate on the crisis on housing by trying to shift the blame onto Sinn Féin”.
Brady continued “Instead of trying to deal with the problem and trying to progress housing projects in Wicklow, Anne Ferris has chosen to attack the staff in the housing section in Wicklow for not getting projects designed fast enough and telling them to sort themselves out. I don’t expect the Labour TD to know or understand the extent of the crisis in Wicklow whilst sitting in the Ivory Tower of Leinster Hse. She is completely uninformed because Labour has lost all seats they once held on Wicklow County Council. The reality is the housing staff in Wicklow are doing an excellent job in very difficult circumstances. Families are presenting as homeless on an almost daily basis and the council simply doesn’t have the houses to give out”.
“The public service recruitment embargo that was introduced by Fianna Fáil and the Greens and subsequently presided over by the Labour Party and Fine Gael has stripped thousands of staff from local authorities and Wicklow is no different. Due to the embargo Wicklow had no architects to develop the badly needed housing schemes that the government only recently gave a limited go ahead for. Thankfully that has now been lifted and one position has been filled over the last couple of weeks and another appointment is due to be made shortly. This will allow the council develop and progress schemes and get them into the department for approval as quickly as possible”.
Brady went onto say “Last November my colleague Cllr John Snell who is the chairperson of the Housing Special Policy Committee (JPC) arranged to meet all 5 Wicklow TDs to outline the work of the SPC, unfortunately Deputy Ferris never showed up. She never showed up to a recent County Council meeting either to listen to presentations on the problems regarding housing in Wicklow. Last week councillors from Arklow and Bray arranged two separate meetings with the Wicklow TDs again the Labour TD was missing in action. Deputy Ferris is like Wicklow’s own Scarlet Pimpernel – sought everywhere but nowhere to be found. Maybe if she turned up to these important meetings she could be better informed of the serious housing crisis in Wicklow, but more importantly what needs to be done to address it”.
Cllr Brady concluded “What the 3,585 families on the housing list or the 150 adults and 125 children that presented as homeless in Wicklow don’t need is a TD trying to turn the housing crisis in Wicklow in a political football by trying to blame others for the mess that their party has created. People want and need houses and Anne Ferris needs to ensure that any blockages in the system that may be creating difficulties in developing housing in Wicklow are lifted. Sitting in an ivory tower sending out press statements won’t fool anyone; people know exactly where the blame lies for the housing crisis”.