The lack of housing available in the Ballinskelligs area is stunting its growth, but a local community group is determined to change things.
deputation from Coiste Forbartha na Sceilge has called on Kerry County Council to help them to develop housing, allowing families to move to the area.
The community group is a recognised housing body and can, therefore, develop a housing project, but they need council support to purchase a suitable site.
Two suitable sites have been identified in the village of Dungeagan. The areas are zoned for accommodation use, but further examination of both sites would be needed.
A deputation from the community group attended the Kenmare Municipal Meeting last week to ask councillors to support their plans.
“We are looking for the council to purchase a site and we would develop it. It would not just be social housing but mixed housing. A lot of families want to move back to the area but a big problem is housing,” said Dessie Cronin.
He said the issue is a ‘matter of urgency’.
The development of a remote-working hub in the area will help people settle in the community, but housing is critical to this ambition.
The Gteic@Baile an Sceilg hub, announced last year, will provide workspaces for up to 50 people, as well as remote-learning and upskilling programmes; and support for small businesses to develop and expand in the region.
Micheál Ó Leidhin said that the Uíbh Ráthach Gaeltacht is the only Gaeltacht in the country that has experienced economic decline, and a special taskforce has been set up to address this decline.
The taskforce has found that housing, or a lack thereof, is a stumbling block to growth.
“There is not even accommodation to rent. If there is, we are up against tourism. There are 300 holidays homes and if one comes for sale an ordinary person cannot buy it,” he said.
Cllr Norma Moriarty, who organised the deputation, said that accommodation issues are stopping the community from ‘riding on the crest of the wave’ and she said she hoped the council would do all they could to help.
Manager of the Kenmare Municipal District Martin O’Donoghue said that the council would help and would meet with Coiste Forbarta na Sceilge on the ground to look at the sites and undertake a technical examination of the proposed sites.
He said that the plans are ‘overwhelmingly positive’, and the fact that the community group is an approved housing body is helpful.