Costello calls on Archbishop Martin to intervene in housing dispute

17 November 2014

Statement by Joe Costello

The behaviour of the Catholic Housing Aid Society (CHAS) towards its tenants from Fr Scully House on Gardiner Street, Dublin 1 is unacceptable.

Some forty tenants were temporarily moved out of the old Fr Scully House complex in 2006 to various other units of accommodation, on the understanding that demolition and reconstruction would be complete in approximately two years and they would then be able to move back in again.  These were elderly people who nearly eight years later are still waiting to return to their new homes.

The planning process didn’t start for a number of years and, when it was complete, the CHAS argued with the Department of the Environment, demanding more money for the reconstruction than the €17 million that the Department was prepared to make available. This delayed the project still further. 

Now, with the development completed for nearly six months and the tenants due to move in last September, the CHAS engaged in an unseemly wrangle with the local authority over the level of rents that the tenants should pay. Dublin City Council wants a rent commensurate with its differential rent, but CHAS wants a much higher rent, which many on the City Council’s housing list would be unable to pay.

It is unlikely that the 75 of tenants who are entitled to be nominated for Fr Scully House from Dublin City Council’s housing list will be accommodated before Christmas. 

With the housing crisis in the city, it is unconscionable that a Catholic housing agency – or indeed any housing agency – should be treating homeless and elderly people who cannot house themselves, in this fashion.

I am calling on the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, to intervene and ensure that the new accommodation for Fr Scully House paid for by the taxpayer is fully occupied by Christmas so that 75 elderly people receive a special Christmas gift.