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Independent candidate O'Mahony urges change of direction

June 6th, 2024 8:55 AM

By Southern Star Team

Independent candidate O'Mahony urges change of direction Image
Shannonvale resident and independent candidate in June's local elections Barry O’Mahony with a glass of murky local water in 2020.

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A LOCAL election candidate has predicted West Cork faces a risk of depopulation without a major change of Government housing policy.

The prediction was made by independent candidate in the Skibbereen area Barry O’Mahony, who cited a leaked report by the Housing Commission which criticised the government for ineffective decision-making and reactive policy-making.

The Housing Commission’s report estimates that the State currently has a deficit of 256,000 homes.

O’Mahony says some solutions are obvious. ‘While building social housing to end the Council’s reliance on private sector rental needs to ramp up, we also have a growing cohort of people whose earnings exclude them from social housing, but still leave them priced out of building or buying a home – we need to better support these people,’ said Mr O’Mahony.

‘Planning policies must acknowledge that we are living in a changing world, and should allow for a broader range of building methods and design styles. We also need to consider vacant Council-owned land for affordable serviced sites, with pre-approved planning for certain designs. There are plenty of people willing to build, but they are either unable to keep up with the ever-rising costs or they’re tied up in planning red tape – most people don’t want a hand-out, they just need a leg-up.’

O’Mahony believes that, without a major overhaul of housing policy, rural areas like West Cork are at real risk of depopulation.

‘When I left college in 2008 the state of our economy meant a huge number of my friends were forced to leave the country to make lives for themselves. Many of them won’t be coming back. Today, when we’re being told that the economy is in great shape, and we’re running a multi-billion euro budget surplus, we risk losing another generation.’

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