As the number of homeless shoots past 10,000, €371,000 state-of-the-art houses for travellers are lying idle in Tipperary – TD

‘Horses grazing on the lawns.’

Coveney: ‘We need to be careful with how we speak about and debate issues around Traveller accommodation…’

Sligo News File.

Mattie McGrath TD

Commenting in the Dail today, Deputy Mattie McGrath asked if the government was going to review the Traveller accommodation plan.

He said:

I acknowledge that the housing crisis has reached more than 10,000 homeless. On the other hand, Tipperary County Council has spent €371,000 per unit on houses in Cabra in Thurles for Traveller families that have been lying idle since last October. The Minister of State, Deputy English might answer this question.

The average price of a house in Tipperary is €167,000. These have cost a staggering €371,000 per house and the families are refusing to move into them. They have horses grazing on the lawns. Are we going to review the Traveller accommodation plan? A councillor had a motion down at a meeting yesterday and the director of services refused to attend to deal with it. This is causing great anger and angst all over Tipperary and beyond. If we give in to a set of preconditions for people to move into state-of-the-art houses, built at enormous cost and which are almost three times the cost of normal houses, we will set a very bad precedent in Tipperary and I do not want that.

It is time this was resolved and I ask the Minister of State to intervene with the county council. This is the cost to date, not the full cost. The reply I have got says it is the cost to date. There is subterfuge going on here. There is a €500,000 increase on what we knew at first. I want to know if this will be allowed to continue. It is farcical when people throughout the country are waiting for houses and sleeping on the streets.

An Ceann Comhairle
The Tánaiste will answer the Deputy.

Tanaiste Simon Coveney, TD

The Tánaiste
We need to be careful with how we speak about and debate issues around Traveller accommodation when it comes to social housing because it is easy to move into dog whistle territory here if we are not careful—–

Deputy Mattie McGrath
It is not a dog whistle.

The Tánaiste
—–with the kind of questioning that the Deputy is posing here today.

Deputy Mattie McGrath
It is not a dog whistle. It is an honest question and the sooner we deal with it the better.

The Tánaiste
Dealing with the housing demands of the Traveller community in Ireland is complex, difficult and at times very political. Local authorities have difficult challenges to meet in this regard without us making it more difficult for them.

Deputy Mattie McGrath
There is no accountability.

The Tánaiste
To be singling out a small number of houses—–

Deputy Mattie McGrath
It is public money and there is no accountability.

The Tánaiste
—–and specifically painting a picture of a problem with the Traveller community is something that the Deputy should reflect on.

Deputy Mattie McGrath
I resent that lecture. I resent it totally. We are in a housing crisis.

The Tánaiste
It is true.

Deputy Mattie McGrath
I resent that lecture from an arrogant Tánaiste who cannot build a henhouse not to mind build a doghouse for people.