BaileNuachtCartlann Aitheasc agus Preaseisiúintí

Speech by the Taoiseach, Mr. Brian Cowen, T.D., at the opening of the Rights for the Elderly Housing Scheme


A dhaoine uaisle;

Tá áthas orm a bheith libh inniu chun an sain-chóiríocht seo atá dírithe ar riachtanais daoine aosta a oscailt go hoifigiúil. Is iontach an fhorbairt í a chuirfidh go mór le saol na ndaoine a mbeidh ina gconaí ann.

Is cúis mhisnigh dom go bhfuil grúpaí deonacha cosúil le Cearta na nAostach ag obair go dian ar fud na tíre ag cur feabhas ar gnéithe lárnach de shaol daoine aosta. Déanaim comhghairdeachas libh, le Comhairle Chontae Uibh Fhaillí agus leis an foireann tógala as an gcomhphártaíocht atá soléir inniu.

Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am delighted to have been invited by Rights for the Elderly to perform the official opening of their new housing scheme at Tihilly.

The scheme consists of 16 two - bedroom houses, specifically designed to meet the needs of older people, as well as a community centre which is shared with Tullamore Housing Association. It is great to see a vibrant new community forming at the heart of Tullamore.

Congratulations to the Board and members of Rights for the Elderly; the design and construction teams; and Offaly County Council. I know you all worked extremely hard to complete this project and to do it to the highest standards. You have done a really good job. I would also like to pay tribute to the fundraisers and, of course, to all the generous people who responded to the call for support.

The partnership between voluntary sector and local authority, with the aid of capital funding from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, proved to be a winning formula. The capital funding of over €2.6 million provided for these houses and the communal facility was clearly money well spent.

Molly Buckley, Chairperson of Rights for the Elderly, was absolutely right when she said recently that old age is one of the greatest achievements of the modern world. Since its foundation in Tullamore in 1997, Rights for the Elderly have campaigned tirelessly for better services, facilities and recognition for older people. The enormous amount of knowledge, time and energy of those involved in a voluntary group such as this is a powerful force for good and I want to acknowledge that today.

This is a very difficult time for our economy and society. However, the Government will continue to do everything we can to meet the need for social housing. We have made a lot of progress in this area in recent years. Last year alone, the needs of over 20,000 households were met through the full range of housing measures operated by the local authorities and the voluntary and co-operative sector.

New initiatives include long - term leasing entered into by the local authorities and the voluntary and co-operative sector. I would encourage the voluntary sector to participate to the fullest in this new initiative, which will greatly benefit those in need of suitable accommodation.

All around the country, voluntary groups have undertaken housing developments with the help of the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government's generous Capital Assistance Scheme. This is a great opportunity to salute their work. They are doing invaluable work in meeting housing needs and in the process, fostering a great sense of pride and confidence in the local communities.

Funding for this particular project was channelled through Offaly County Council. The advice and encouragement of Local Authorities is an absolute necessity if we are to promote and expand the work of the voluntary sector. Offaly County Council deserve a special word of appreciation for their contribution to this scheme.

I would like to conclude today by thanking all those involved in the construction of this fine new development. May I wish all of the residents many years of health, happiness and independent living in their new accommodation. It is a great pleasure to declare this project officially open.

Thank you.