Saturday, August 06, 2022

By Paul O’Malley

The chairman of a Mayo community development group has accused the Government of letting down rural Ireland by excluding villages with fewer than 400 people from a new housing scheme.

Brendan Lavelle, who is chairman of Keenagh Community Development, told the Western People that villages such as his own have been completely left out of the Croí Cónaithe schemes. Keenagh is located near Crossmolina.

Croí Cónaithe comprises two €50 million schemes for the refurbishment of vacant properties in an attempt to address the housing crisis and bring an end to rural and urban decay. One scheme is aimed at cities while the other is aimed at towns. The town scheme will apply to towns and villages with populations of over 400 people, but Mr Lavelle has questioned why this limit has been put in place.

“We have seen what people in small communities can achieve in our own area. In March of this year, we all pulled together to do up a vacant house and gave it to refugees from Ukraine. That was entirely self-funded,” said Mr Lavelle.

“If we had to wait for Government support to do up that house, it would have collapsed by the time we got that support.”

He said the scheme should not exclude any area regardless of population and described it as a “slap in the face” to rural Ireland.

“Rural communities with a good track record or community groups willing to put in the work should be allowed to apply for the scheme. Otherwise, you leave out places like Keenagh and if they can’t apply, how can they do anything about dereliction in their area?”

Mr Lavelle said the Keenagh group is planning to write to the Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien calling for a review of the scheme if it is not opened to small, rural areas.

“It is a massive kick in the teeth for me and my community to realise that we are excluded from Croí Cónaithe. It seems we are too small and too insignificant to even qualify for the scheme.

“Not everyone wants to live in towns and cities. The scheme as it is is one hand reaching out halfway and us at the back aren’t getting any of it.”

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By Western People
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