Tomás Sharkey says “Report confirms long held suspicions around house purchases by Louth County Council with public money.” He also believes that the 2007 Code of Conduct for Employees has been breached and sweeping changes are needed in the Housing Section.
Sinn Féin’s Tomás Sharkey has received a report from Louth County Manager Philomena Poole into an audit of house purchases by Louth County Council in 2010. A Senior Executive Engineer and a Senior Executive Officer in the Housing section sold houses to the Council and have been on suspension since October while an investigation has been taking place.
“Both houses in question are in my electoral areas of Blackrock and Knockbridge.
“This report gives us an ugly picture of Louth’s Housing Section. The County Manager has written the report because of calls by me to have the purchase of houses audited and investigated and this proves that my pursuit of the issue of senior housing staff being involved in selling their own houses to the Council was correct.
“The audit by Deloitte raised the issues of employees negotiating on their own behalf with persons with whom they worked on a day-to-day basis and attending meetings at which their properties were being discussed. This is in breach of the 2007 Code of Conduct for Employees of local authorities. I have been raising my concerns about this type of practice for some time now.
“The report has been carefully worded to give a stinging criticism of how the Housing Section has been managed over the years. I want to thank the brave and careful work of ordinary staff who assisted the audit and subsequent inquiry.
“It is incredible to read that the results of house inspections undertaken by the Senior Executive Engineer were not documented in a formal report. That Senior Executive Engineer sold his own house in Tullagee, Knockbridge to the Council at a cost to the taxpayer of €142,562.50 and with an additional refurbishment cost of €62,662.03.
“Louth County Council’s solicitor wrote many times advising that structural surveys of purchased houses be carried out but they did not happen. Inspections by the Senior Executive Engineer were not formally documented. There was no record that the houses being bought satisfied a demand from our housing waiting list. In one instance the Council’s solicitor was instructed to proceed with the purchase of a house before the Director’s Order was signed to buy it. There is no record as to how the Council became aware of houses being available for purchase. Policies and procedures did not exist.
“The report from Louth County Manager confirms the grave mistrust that the public holds of our Housing Section. I welcome the fact that there will now be a review of procedures into house allocations, maintenance requests, purchase of units, Rental Accomodation Scheme, Long Term Leasing and Housing Assistance Payments. There now needs to be a sweeping change in our Council. Policies and procedures must be made and followed.
“This document was prepared by Ms Philomena Poole who will leave her post as County Manager after only 8 months. I want to thank her for helping prepare the ground for reform in Louth.”
For further information on this article please contact
087 9090629 or firstname.lastname@example.org