Roscrea based Fianna Fáil local election candidate Cllr Michael Smith
Launching his election campaign in Roscrea recently, Cllr. Michael Smith urged a much more vigorous approach to dealing with the housing crisis.
"The policy must not only embrace new build of private houses, social housing and local authority schemes, but also bring back into use vacant housing space," said Cllr Smith. "In every town and village, and strewn across the countryside are numerous vacant houses, deteriorating by the day and sometimes an attraction for anti-social behaviour.
"These premises are fully serviced in the towns and villages and in the rural areas, have electricity, water supplies, but may require some upgrading of sewerage treatment facilities. There is no good reason why these houses cannot be restored, to help families in vital need.
"What better way to revitalise, to recycle, renovate, and bring back life to these areas? The taxpayer is expected to spend a small fortune on hotels and other unsuitable accommodation with no proper facilities to cater for the normal upbringing of children. A small fraction of these monies would help to bring all that vacant space back into use.
"The prospect of the national broadband plan will ultimately make it possible for people living in these rural areas to compete in every facet of life and enjoy the ability to work from home.
"There is also a vast amount of vacant space downstairs and upstairs in towns and villages. I believe that these premises could be put to good use, with a tax-based incentive scheme for their renewal. The possibility of opening up new shops and enterprises at affordable rents should be explored.
"The closure of garda stations, post-offices, shops and pubs has had a demoralising effect on many communities. In many cases, we can’t turn back the clock but every generation is taxed to think outside the box and to tackle the challenges of their time.
"We have a housing crisis of unrivalled proportions, there is so much more the government should do, County Councils can and must do more, but also it is so important that every individual is encouraged to do all they can for themselves. To have the capacity to build or buy and live in their own home is a driving force and ambition for many young couples. Home ownership is a cornerstone of healthy communities. It’s time we did more collectively to confront the problem," added Cllr Smith.