Housing crisis is "inhumane" says concerned Moyross priest

He spoke about having dealt with parishioners who were feeling suicidal while dealing with housing issues.

A PRIEST HAS spoken out about the effect the housing crisis is having on people living in one of the most deprived areas of the country.

Fr Tony O’Riordan got in touch with Today with Sean O’Rourke to speak about housing problems he has been encountering in the Moyross area of Limerick.

He said he has encountered parishioners who are facing housing issues and feeling suicidal.

Moyross is one of the parishes with the greatest concentrations of poverty in Ireland.

4/1/2009 Moyross Housing Estates Photocall Ireland Photocall Ireland

Fr O’Riordan told O’Rourke that during the past week he dealt with two separate cases of men who told him they were suicidal.

Just this week alone, I have intervened [in] situations of three males who were suicidal; in two of those cases the pressing issue – the felt pressing issue – was housing-related.

Fr O’Riordan went on to say:

One of the individuals is living in very inhumane conditions and has been waiting for years, and we have been supporting him and lobbying for re-housing for him.
I myself find it very depressing just to visit that house and he is returning to it, without basic sanitation and without basic facilities.

Fr O’Riordan came on the show in response to comments made by the Minister for Housing, Simon Coveney, who appeared on the same show earlier in the week and said:

“I regard what’s happening in housing, and in particular for families that are homeless, as a national emergency and we need an immediate response.”

Limerick Regeneration Plan:

Fr O’Riordan also spoke about the 2008 redevelopment plan for Limerick, which included the demolition of over 2500 houses in the area and replacing them with new homes.

The plan was revised after the economic collapse, and a more realistic version was drafted instead, with only half the number of houses to be demolished.

He said: “We have demolished over close to 500 houses in Moyross as part of this project of rebuilding, but there’s been less than 40 units developed.”

“The frustration for people is they see houses being demolished, they don’t see the replacement housing emerging,” he added.

“To me it makes no sense to put a family into the homeless services or inappropriate accommodation when there is a house that, over a four or five year period while the new housing is being developed, could be used.”

Architect and project manager at Limerick City and County Council, Seamus Hanrahan, also appeared on the radio show, and spoke about the 2008 rebuilding plan that was revised in 2012, which was done in consultation with the community.

He said a new plan, the Limerick Regeneration Framework Implementation Plan (LRFIP) was reviewed and published in 2014, and is under constant yearly review.

Proposed housing LRFIP LRFIP

He said the reality of the reviews is that 55 houses have changed statuses because of it, meaning they are not set for immediate demolition, or will be left standing.

“Thirty-three houses will be retained and 22 others have been re-classified as demolition long-term, so that’s demolition in seven years plus,” Hanrahan added.

In such cases, the demolition of long-term houses would be delayed, so the homes can be upgraded, with heating systems and improved living conditions.

When asked are the council doing what Fr O’Riordan is asking, he said:

“We are, maybe not to the same extent as father Tony would like, but we are pretty responsive to issues on the ground. We know a very fine grain level of detail on Moyross, we can see the swings and roundabouts that happen in the community.”

Fr O’Riordan was reassured by Hanrahan’s answers, and spoke about the Limerick Regeneration Framework, and how housing issues are only one issue that need to be addressed along with social regeneration and economic regeneration.

Last year Father O’Riordan appealed for the sale of church gold, in order to pay for a teacher in the deprived area.

 If you need to talk, contact:

  • Samaritans 116 123 or email
  • Console 1800 247 247 – (suicide prevention, self-harm, bereavement)
  • Aware 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)
  • Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email – (suicide, self-harm)
  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)
  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

Read: What on earth is the solution to the rental crisis? >

Read: Moyross Priest slams “scandalous” demolition of houses in Limerick >

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