Living conditions in Dublin flat complexes as bad as when 'people were so poor they had to burn floorboards'

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The living conditions in some inner city flats are allegedly so bad they recall a time when "people were so poor they had to burn floorboards".

Councillor Mannix Flynn made the claim while defending recommendations in a recent paper by Dublin City Council to demolish a number of historic complexes in the city.

Speaking on Today with Sean O'Rourke on RTE Radio One, Cllr Flynn recalled his time growing up in Mercer House in Dublin 2, arguing that conditions hadn't changed since.

He said: "We all [seventeen people] basically fitted in there because that’s how it was back then, but the woman upstairs had 21 children...

"And at that stage of the game, Dublin City Council was maintaining the buildings and so on and so forth, and it was a different lifestyle and a different way of living.

Councillor Mannix Flynn

"In Summerhill and Sean McDermott Street I remember going into houses where people were so poor they were actually burning the floorboards.

"And these conditions, I have to say, are now very much the norm in these blocks of flats."

He added that people were living in "absolute squalor" in complexes around the city because architectural conservationists wanted to keep the buildings.

Journalist and author Frank McDonald, who appeared on the show to argue against the demolition of the complexes, refuted the claim, saying there are "queues of people" waiting to be placed in similar housing.

He said: "One of the finest single housing schemes ever carried out in Dublin was done by the Iveagh Trust on Patrick Street, Bride Street, and that area near St Patrick’s Cathedral between 1901 and 1905.

The Iveagh Trust buildings on Bride Street

"Nobody is suggesting, least of all the Iveagh Trust, that these buildings should be demolished because they’re old.

"They are incredibly valued. There are queues of people lining up to get into those flats and you have to go before a committee and the rest of it to be approved to live there.

"It beggars belief that they are thinking of demolishing buildings because they’re old. That is just nonsense."

In a statement, Dublin City Council said that demolishing the complexes was one option, particularly those which could provide greater density and height if they were redeveloped.

The council added: "We fully recognise the importance of the several protected buildings that are included in our stock of apartment complexes, and there are no plans to demolish any of these.

"However, as outlined in our paper, a very small number of these are in poor condition and the option of delisting and demolition should at least be considered by elected members.

"Any decision on this is not necessarily at this stage."

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