The new Mayor of South Dublin says his priority during his term is “housing, housing and housing” after revealing that he was homeless during his time as a sitting councillor.
Cllr Mark Ward (SF) was elected as Mayor recently at the annual meeting of the council.
His party colleague Cathal King will serve as Deputy Mayor.
During his acceptance speech, Mayor Ward said he wanted to use his time to break the stigma around homelessness, revealing that he became homeless not long after he became a councillor in 2016.
He said: “Not long after I became a councillor, I received a notice to quit from my landlord.
“He was an accidental landlord who, due to increases in his own rent, was forced into selling the property I was living.
“I immediately started looking for accommodation that was suitable for me and my children.
“I had to over hold the property I was living in for three months and in November 2016 I became officially homeless.”
Cllr Ward stayed with family and friends during this period and also spent time in Apollo House.
“I was in Apollo House as a volunteer therapist, but used the opportunity to also provide me with a roof over my head.
“I was active in trying to secure a home through the homeless HAP scheme and went from viewing to viewing, with scores of other desperate families.
“As a member of this chamber I went about my duties as best I could despite the circumstances that I was in.”
It took Cllr Ward six months to find accommodation through Homeless HAP.
Cllr Ward said he didn’t go public at the time as he did not want to be seen as using his position as a way of solving his housing problem.
He added that he hoped to use his term in office to put pressure on the Government and the council to build more social and affordable homes.
“The housing crisis is across the four local authorities and I want to set up a task force that will include the Department of Housing and the Mayors, CEO’s and Chairs of the Housing SPC’s (Strategic Policy Committees) of South Dublin, Dublin City, Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown and Fingal Councils meeting at least twice during my term goal is to increase public housing and decrease the numbers on our waiting lists and homelessness.”