Mannix Flynn: 'a culture'

STAFF at Dublin City Council have used two methods to misallocate housing to people, according to information given to the Sunday Tribune.

Sources within the local authority have claimed that dozens of properties are likely to have been given to tenants who did not meet requirements over recent years, even at conservative estimates.

However, there are now concerns that an 'update' of the Anite computer system used to process applications, prompted by an internal investigation, will eradicate potential evidence of the widespread nature of misallocations.

One source has claimed that council staff would apply 'priority' status to people seeking accommodation, even though they did not qualify.

"So people who have had genuine priority status for years get skipped," the source said.

A second method used related to accommodation being given to tenants but their details being kept away from updated lettings lists which inform elected officials who got what accommodation, and thereby slipping beneath the radar.

"Certain allocations weren't going on the list; if they went on and the [qualification] points weren't good enough the councillors would ask questions," the source said.

"I would imagine that nobody in the section would want this to come out because their pay (user) numbers are on the system.

"Yes, they were following orders but it's their pay numbers at the end of the day. They don't answer back; they do what they are told."

Ongoing allegations and claims surrounding more widespread misallocation of homes remain unsubstantiated. However, Dublin City Council refuses to comment as the issue is ongoing.

A debate on the subject has been tabled for this month's council meeting. The independent Mannix Flynn has continually called for a full independent investigation into claims of impropriety – and a more widespread one than the recent probe which focused on a single member of staff.

In a statement last month, the city manager John Tierney said that any member of staff acting "inappropriately" would be disciplined and that a further internal audit of the system would take place early this year.

However, there are concerns that the recent audit carried out by the council will be the end of the matter. This identified one staff member and a series of systemic problems within the section.

The staff member in question has already claimed she was acting on instructions from senior management.

Flynn has advised against the 'updating' of the internal Anite system used to record the status of housing applicants.

"While there is a call for a full independent inquiry into misallocations, this system should left alone. First of all we have to ascertain how widespread this was and I think that it wouldn't be in the best interest of Dublin City Council to rely on its own investigation to do that. This seems to be a culture."