20 February 1997 Edition

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Tenants picketed in Dublin housing row


A new tenant who benefited from Dublin Corpotation's housing policy was picketed by a local residents' association last week. The picket marks a deterioration in the brewing row over the Corporation policy of purchasing houses in `private' estates.

Andy Kavanagh, his partner and their seven year old child arrived at their new house in Ayrfield, in North Dublin, to find a picket of 30 local residents. Posters saying ``Ayrfield Residents oppose Corporation rehousing policy'' were attached to the porch window and living room window of the house. The picket was called by Ayrfield Residents Association which is opposed to the sale of houses in `private' estates to Dublin Corporation.

When contacted by An Phoblacht, Mick Whelan, as chair of the Ayrfield Residents Association claimed the picket on 11 February was not against the new tenants. He claimed his association did not know the sale of the house had gone through and blamed Dublin Corporation for not informing them and ``allowing the tenants to walk past the picket and be embarrassed''.

But Andy Kavanagh said he and his family were ``angered and distressed'' at the picket. ``My daughter asked us why people did not want us to move in'' he said. Andy Kavanagh suffers from a serious heart condition which entitled him to priority allocation of the house.

The issue of Corporation purchase of houses in `private' estates has caused division in the Association of Combined Residents Associations (ACRA). A Dublin delegate meeting of the organisation last December voted opposition to the policy. But many ACRA affiliates disagree. The division at the meeting was ten for opposition to the policy and five against with one abstention. One residents' association disaffiliated from ACRA in protest at the way in which the issue was handled.

Mick Whelan, who as well as being chair of Ayrfield Residents Association is Honorary Treasurer of ACRA, refused to say what exactly was the objection to Corporation tenants in `private' estates. He said he had spoken to young couples who were ``extremely angry'' that they were paying mortgages of £400 to £500 per month while people nearby were on nominal rent. When it was put to him that this was tantamount to opposing any public housing he terminated the interview saying: ``I have to go to work now to pay my own mortgage.''

A resident of Foxhill, neighbouring Ayrfield, Ger Dorgan said it was ``shameful and disgraceful that this house was picketed''. He told An Phoblacht::

``People are entitled to housing and I personally am one of many residents in this area who would like to disassociate ourselves from this action.''

Dublin North East Sinn Féin represenative Larry O'Toole said his party ``fully supported this housing policy''. There was no doubt that ``fears and prejudices are being whipped up'':

``Rival local politicians are using this issue as a stick to beat one another. Genuine worries about the scheme are being turned into fear. Certain people are fostering prejudice and snobbery against local authority tenants.

``The bottom line is that people have a right to be housed. This scheme is just one of the limited ways the Corporation is providing housing. The energies of certain local residents' leaders and certain politicians would be better spent creating community spirit and good neighbourliness than opposing this scheme.''

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1