Dublin City Council chief executive Owen Keegan said he would not resign over comments about student housing that he said were sarcastic.
A number of councilors called for Mr. Keegan’s resignation, while others asked for an apology, following correspondence with a student union leader in which he said he was “surprised” that the union did not. not provide housing for its members.
UCD Students Union (UCDSU) President RuairÃ Power tweeted earlier this week an excerpt from a letter in which Mr Keegan wrote: [purpose built student accommodation] market I am surprised that the Student Union has not entered the market itself and provided low cost student accommodation for its members.
In a letter to advisers, Mr Keegan said he was raising a serious point: “However, I accept that there was also an element of sarcasm.”
He apologized for the use of sarcasm under the circumstances.
âI did not consider that the use of sarcasm was necessarily inappropriate in the context of a robust exchange of correspondence. However, upon reflection, I now accept that the use of sarcasm was inappropriate on this occasion and I am happy to apologize for the offense I have caused.
However, he said he had no intention of resigning. âI am not proposing to resign. If the elected officials consider that my resignation is justified, it is up to them to initiate the procedure provided for by the legislation of the local communities â, he declared.
“On a positive note, this episode highlighted the current student housing crisis in Dublin, which needs to be addressed,” he said.
The excerpt tweeted by Mr. Power was part of a four-letter exchange between Mr. Power and Mr. Keegan. Mr. Power first wrote to Mr. Keegan to express his “deep frustration”.
“Prioritizing the profit margins” of hosting providers was a “shameful act”, Mr Power wrote, the board should suggest a reduction in rent to the company instead of choosing to “bend over backwards” to facilitate their profits, he said.
In response, Mr. Keegan described town planning rules and national and municipal policy regarding student accommodation and its temporary use for tourism purposes. Since authorization was granted, a new government policy requires applicants seeking to change the use of accommodation to present “compelling reasons unrelated to Covid” and to demonstrate that there is no longer a need for student accommodation in the area.
However, Mr Keegan said he was satisfied with the decision in line with the previous policy “which was in effect until recently”. He noted that there had been no objections or appeals regarding the request. Future decisions will be made in accordance with the new policy, he said.
In response, Mr Power said the public was unaware of the request and accused the council of “hiding behind” government policy documents “to justify illogical planning decisions.”
Mr Keegan responded that Mr Power was twisting the basis for planning decisions and made comments about the housing development union, which he now admits to be sarcastic.