With the recent leaking of a report by the Government-appointed Housing Commission, non-party Local Election candidate, Barry O’Mahony, says he is unsurprised by the findings.

“The Commission blames the current housing crisis primarily on ‘ineffective decision making and reactive policy making’ and I couldn’t agree more” O’Mahony said. “The government parties have a longstanding habit of ignoring warnings until a crisis overwhelms them, then scrambling for solutions. The solutions are at the doorsteps – I’m hearing intelligent, sensible suggestions from people every day I go canvassing; the government just needs to listen.”

O’Mahony believes that, without a major overhaul of housing policy, rural areas like West Cork are at real risk of depopulation. He said “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 of talented, hard-working people, because they can’t see themselves ever having a home here.”

The Housing Commission’s report estimates that the state currently has a deficit of 256,000 homes and makes a number of recommendations, but 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. 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.”