State-owned cottages in Emo should be used for tourists not local authority tenants argues councillor

FG Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council hits back at FF TD's proposal

By Conor Ganly

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By Conor Ganly

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news@leinsterexpress.ie

A senior Laois County Councillor has hit back at a proposal from a Laois TD that State-owned vacant cottages be refurbished and used to house people who need homes in Laois.

Cllr Tom Mulhall, who is Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council, argued instead that the houses on the grounds of Emo Court should be converted and used to attract more tourists to Laois.

Fianna Fáil TD Sean Fleming has called on the Office of Public Works to convert up to six cottages at the former stables attached to the famous stately home near the north Laois village.

However, Cllr Mulhall disagreed. He said there is a "very low housing needed in Emo" and that the land around the court is a tourist area which is not "suitable for local authority housing".

He suggested that the buildings could be refurbished and rented out on a self-catering basis to attract visitors to the area.

Cllr Mulhall said he was not against local authority housing being built in Emo but the council does not own land in the village and there is also insufficient capacity in the sewage system.

Deputy Fleming was advised by the OPW that a capital investment must be made to make them houses habitable and it hopes to have funds available in 2017 to refurbish the buildings.

It confirmed that it does rent houses. A data base of applicants is maintained by the National Historic Properties Unit, OPW, Government Offices, Hebron Road, Kilkenny.

The OPW told the Laois TD that people who wish to rent the Emo homes could write to the Kilkenny office to be considered as tenants.