______________________________________________________by Michael McGrath.

I had tea with a refugee family in their new council house in Callan today. I was helping them apply for their vote in the locals that I’m standing in.

The house was spanking new, beautifully decorated and sumptuously furnished. I joked with Jasmine, “You’ll never go back now!, to which she laughingly replied, “No, we would never get this lovely life in Syria, it’s like winning the lotto” , as you Irish say.

The fabulous tied curtains, the twinkling wall lights, the great mirror – I asked her, “How much did all this cost you?

“Not a cent”, the ever smiling lady replied, ” we got 5000 Euro from the Council for everything for this house down to the forks and knives in the drawer.”

I gathered from her information that the five grand she received from the Council was the maximum available from the Emergency needs payments fund.

As I listened, I had a vision of an Irish woman and her three month old baby who was out on the streets of Kilkenny in the freezing cold, homeless at Christmas, and who Kilkenny County Council refused to give a red cent to, to help. Melissa O’Neill finally got mother and child into the Oasis hostel in Waterford after Kilkenny County Council washed their hands of the little couple despite strong representations from John McGuinness.

Jasmine’s husband was stuck into horse racing on their 42 ” wall TV as we spoke. He said he had serious money on the race.

I think this should form the central issue of the present local election campaign.  Housing is the biggest issue by an Irish mile.DPfI20uW4AAwlqF

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