Dublin City Council Chief refuses to comment on "reprehensible" response to UCD students' letter 1 week ago

Dublin City Council Chief refuses to comment on "reprehensible" response to UCD students' letter

"He should resign - and if he doesn't he should be sent packing."

Dublin City Council Chief Executive Owen Keegan has refused to comment on his response to a UCD students' letter which has been hailed as "reprehensible" by TDs.

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When asked by JOE if Keegan had made the comments and if he stood by them in the wake of heavy criticism online on Monday, the DCC replied: "The Chief Executive does not wish to make a statement on this."

President of the UCD Student Union (SU) Ruairí Power shared an image of a correspondence between the SU on Twitter on Monday, sparking widespread backlash from both politicians and students.

Power penned: "DCC CEO Owen Keegan's innovative solution to the housing crisis is...Students' Unions becoming property developers."

He added that the reply from Keegan was in response to the SU opposition to purpose-built student accommodation being converted into short-term tourist accommodation.

A number of student accommodations were turned into accommodations for tourists during the pandemic and have yet to return to their original status, contributing to an increase in the shortage of affordable places for students to live.

In the response to the UCD SU, Keegan said: "Finally, if you genuinely believe that excess profits are being made in the PBSA market, I am surprised the Students Union has not entered the market itself and provided lower-cost student accommodation for its members."

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Government officials have been taking to Twitter all evening to hit out at the DCC representative for his response.

Dublin Central TD Gary Gannon called the reply "reprehensible", saying that it was now "beyond time that the city of Dublin was discussed in full in the chamber of Dáil Éireann."

"I’ve written to the Ceann Comhairle requesting time for statements on Dublin," he added.

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Labour Senator Rebecca Moynihan said: "Mr Keegan’s comments just show how out of touch with reality he is, preferring to dance to the tune of developers...rather than affect change for our students."

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Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris said that he "fully agrees" with the UCD SU.

"Student accommodation must be for students," he said, adding that he and Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien issued a circular on this.

"Lots of work underway and needed to make improvements. Dismissive and sarcastic comments don’t help," he continued.

Meanwhile, People Before Profit TD called for Keegan to resign from his Chief Executive role.

"Owen Keegan has pushed a policy of privatisation of public land, and helped to create the housing crisis we are in," he said.

"Now he rubs salt in the wound with sneering disrespect for those suffering as a result. He should resign - and if he doesn't he should be sent packing."

Main Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie.