Councillor Kieran McCarthy Says “No One Is Safe” After His Family Were Made Homeless

By Seamus Whelehan


An East Cork Councillor who was made homeless over seven weeks ago, has said, Cork County Council need to do more for destitute families.
Cllr Kieran Mccarthy described the local authority as a “toothless tiger” when it came to its responsibility in protecting its citizens.
“We have the legislation, we have the powers, but we have no will to enforce it.”
The Independent Cllr told Monday’s full sitting of Cork County Council his family have been homeless for the past seven weeks after falling foul of Irelands housing crisis.
Cllr McCarthy, his wife and two daughters have been living in emergency accommodation in Cobh since October.
After given the statutory 56 days’ notice to quit their rental accommodation, the family found it difficult to find a place they could afford in the harbour town.
“There are no houses available, and the few that are for rent are at inflated prices far beyond our range”, commented Cllr McCarthy.
The McCarthy’s homeless ordeal ended on Tuesday after they were given priority on the housing list due to their homeless status.
“We’ve been on the housing list since 2012 as there are thousands of people on that list we were just happy to pay rent and wait. When we were given 56 days’ notice to quit I was lobbying every day but things didn’t start happening until the worse came to the worse” Cllr McCarthy tells the East Cork Journal.
Cllr McCarthy made his comments during a discussion on the fallout from last month’s Prime Time Investigates programme on slum landlords.
The programme featured Cobh man Leo Owens who is a tenant in the same rental accommodation in the town for almost 20 years.
The accommodation has no hot water, no cooking or washing facilities, is damp and toilets are blocked.
Since the property was taken over by a new landlord last year it has fallen into further disrepair.
Councillor Diarmuid O’Cadhla who brought the motion to full council told the executive, tougher action needs to be taken.
Every resource must be used to prosecute offending landlords and to enforce the law regarding minimum standards.
Sinn Fein Cllr Des O’Grady said there is no action been taken because the council don’t go after the landlords.
He said the homeless persons unit in Cork are now refusing to payment to the homeless, “because the Christmas rush is on, hotels don’t have the accommodation. We are going to have more and more homeless at Christmas.”
Independent Cllr Mary Linehan Foley said “as much as the enforcement has to happen private landlords need to pull up their socks, some don’t care anymore because they know if one person is dissatisfied and leaves, they have ten more waiting to get into the house.”
While Fine Gael Cllr Sinead Shepard said many people in Cobh are feeling the sting of the housing crisis.
She said she spent last weekend with a young girl in Cobh with three children under 6 trying desperately to find accommodation because her landlady decided she was not willing to accept the authority’s Housing Assistance Payment.
An emotional Cllr Shepard added the young lady “is now living in a lodge in Cobh off a hotel with three little girls who are worried is Santa going to know where they are going to be staying.”
Earlier this year Cork County Council reported that 97% of properties inspected failed to meet regulatory standards.
Of 756 rental units inspected, 733 failed because they lacked proper fire safety or ventilation.
In some cases, the accommodation had insufficient ventilation for open and solid fuel fires or lacked proper smoke alarms or fire blankets.
Local authorities are expected to review all its rental properties once every 4 years.
Cork County Council say they are only provided with enough resources from government, to carry out inspections on 5% of privately rented properties.