Dail Eireann

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Homeless Crisis & Fixing Housing

Posted October 5th, 2018

In the Dáil on Wednesday I spoke about the homeless crisis and what we are doing to solve it. You can read my speech below.

The Government has no ideological position when it comes to housing. I want to see safe houses being built in the right locations for all of the people. I want to see this happen quickly and will use any method at my disposal to do so. I will not oppose a local authority in buying or leasing a home long-term if it gets homeless families out of homelessness more quickly. Where I might have an ideological position, if I can call it that, is where I believe we should use housing policy to deliver mixed tenure and support and unite communities, rather than divide them.

Another issue on which I would like to find common ground in this House is local opposition. I know that Deputies, in every party and none, have gone out and opposed local plans for house building. I know that has happened before.

If we all believe, as I do, that we are in a crisis and that we need emergency responses, none of us should leave today and oppose the development of housing in our constituencies. More than that, we should work with councillors in our own parties, or councillors over whom we have influence, to make sure they are not opposing the building of houses. Let the planners do their work, according to the systems in place, and let houses be built because they are needed.

To watch a video of my speech, go here.

To continue reading, go here.

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Urgent Need for Water Conservation

Posted July 18th, 2018

On Thursday I spoke in the Dáil about the urgent need to manage our water supply. You can read my statement below.

Despite the temperatures having fallen back to more normal values this week, Met Éireann is forecasting only small amounts of rain for the rest of this week and most of next week as well. This means that there will be little or no alleviation in the drought conditions we are currently experiencing. The drought conditions are expected to persist in the medium and longer term.

However, the main feature of the weather, along with the sunshine, has been the absence of rain, which has given us drought. The main consequences of this are for our water supplies, for water quality and inland fisheries, for wildlife and fires and for agriculture.

Probably the single biggest challenge arising from the drought conditions for the coming weeks, if not months, will be maintaining drinking water supply across the country. Irish Water has been managing a very difficult and evolving situation and is doing everything possible to maintain supplies.

You can continue reading here.

To watch a video of the statements, go here.

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Committee – Homeless Figures

Posted June 25th, 2018

Last week I appeared before the Joint Oireachtas Committee to discuss the serious issue of homeless numbers. I also gave an update on two reports I published, prepared by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive and Inter-Agency Group on Homelessness.

You can watch a video of the proceedings here.

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Security for Renters

Posted June 1st, 2018

On Wednesday we discussed security for renters in the Dáil. You can read my comments below.

I thank the Deputies for tabling this Bill. I assure Deputy Ryan that if I was trying to chase good headlines I would be on a fool’s errand.

The Government will not oppose the Bill and I will now outline the reasons we will not oppose it, and which measures we can support in legislation that we have already signalled as forthcoming. This week in the House there are two Private Members’ Bills on the rental sector; one on student accommodation and one on the private rental sector. I welcome both Bills and I welcome the opportunity to discuss Ireland’s rental accommodation market.

Continue reading here.

You can watch a video of the exchange here.

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Last week I appeared before the Committee on Housing and Homelessness to give an update on the progress of Rebuilding Ireland. You can read my opening statement below.

I thank the Chairman and members of the Committee for the opportunity to appear again before the Committee, this time to give you an update on the progress made in terms of the implementation of Rebuilding Ireland in the first Quarter of this year.

To begin with our most pressing concern and in relation to homelessness, the first quarter of this year saw Storm Emma hit our country. Today, I would like to take the opportunity to once again acknowledge the efforts by all in local authorities, NGOs, emergency services and my own Department in keeping our rough sleepers safe and warm during that extreme weather event.

Since Storm Emma, we have put an additional 60 emergency beds in place and we have seen significant progress with the number of rough sleepers on our streets reducing by more than 40% in April.

To continue reading, go here.

To watch a video of the proceedings, go here.

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Affordable Housing Plans

Posted May 21st, 2018

Last week in the Dáil I outlined our plans for more affordable housing. You can read my statement below.

The years since Fine Gael assumed responsibility for the economy have been a success in economic terms. However, in terms of housing, we are now facing a great social cost and suffering arising from that success. These are compounded by the under-supply that preceded 2011. Surely the broken housing sector, which is now being fixed, is the long sting in the tail for a country that was so badly let down by the Fianna Fáil Party’s 13-year reign. Our difficulties manifest themselves most severely and distressingly in the large number of homeless families in emergency accommodation tonight who are not mentioned in the motion….

When the Fianna Fáil Party states no affordable homes have been built since 2011, it is simply wrong. Our problem for much of the past seven years has not been affordability of homes but the reverse. We are now confronted with supply and affordability problems and the Government is fixing these as a priority. We launched a number of affordability measures last year. They include the local infrastructure housing activation fund, LIHAF, to which previous speakers referred, the introduction of a successful fast-track process and new apartment guidelines which will drive down costs and rent pressure zones, which Fianna Fáil supports and recognises are working – hence the legislation it introduced today.

Earlier this year, I launched three new affordability measures. A number of successful applicants have been approved under the Rebuilding Ireland home loan, although drawdown has not yet taken place because a couple of months are needed to find a home and secure agreement on sale. The affordable purchase scheme, which was also mentioned, was launched in January and we will also introduce cost rental projects at scale thanks to our partners in the European Investment Bank. We will build on these measures with further details under Project Ireland 2040 and these will be announced very soon.

To continue reading, go here.

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Seanad – Statements on Housing

Posted April 25th, 2018

Today I updated the Seanad about the work that is ongoing in relation to housing. You can read my speech below.

I’d like to thank the House for this important opportunity to update you on housing and related matters to-day.

  • TOP line figures – going the right direction

 

  • – Planning permissions for 20,776 homes granted to end December 2017, up 27% year on year.
  • – Commencement notices for over 18,500 new homes were submitted; an annual increase of 41%, in the year to end February 2018,
  • – BER figures show that 2,367 housing units were built during the first three months of the year, an increase of 45% on the same time last year. This does not include self-builds.
  • – ESB connections to the total just under 20,000, an annual increase of more  than 30% in the year to end February 2018. Since early 2014, this has increased by 128%.
  • – Registrations have increased to 9,521 Units which is 46% up on 12 months to February 2017.

 

The growing numbers in employment in the construction industry is further evidence of increased confidence and buoyancy in the housing sector. Employment levels of skilled tradesmen in the construction sector was estimated at 83K in Q1 2017. This is up 14% on the same period in 2016.

To continue reading, go here.

To watch a video of my statement, go here.

 

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Affordable Housing

Posted March 29th, 2018

Today in the Dáil we spoke about affordable housing. You can read my comments below.

At the outset, I wish to address the February homeless figures that I published yesterday. This latest report repeats what we saw in January and would seem to indicate a worrying trend since the beginning of the year in relation to the number of families presenting to our homeless services.

However, I want to reassure the House that we are putting a huge amount of time and resources into helping people in homelessness, every single day and night of the week.

These efforts are having an effect:

  • -the number of single adults in homelessness did fall last month, by 84;
  • -the number of rough sleepers is dramatically down – 50% on last year. People would have seen the huge efforts made around Storm Emma;
  • -in January and February almost 300 families have been prevented from entering emergency accommodation or have exited it.
  • -of the more than 100 families that presented in Dublin in February, only 20 were accommodated in hotels. During 2017, more than 2000 families left hotels into sustainable tenancies, the majority into homes.
  • -last year more than 4,700 adults exited homelessness.

 

So a huge amount is happening and it’s thanks to our partner organisations whom we fund through tax payers’ money – people like Peter McVerry Trust, Simon and Focus Ireland, working with our own teams.

To continue reading, go here.

To watch a video of the statements, go here.

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Yesterday in committee we talked about funding for my Department for the year. I outlined how much we would spend and what we would spend it on. You can read my opening statement below.

I welcome the opportunity to discuss with the Committee today my Department’s Revised Estimate for 2018, as well as the Votes for the Valuation Office and the Property Registration Authority which, arising from a recent transfer of functions, are now also under the aegis of my Department.

Turning first to Vote 34, the Revised Estimate before the Committee today sets out my Department’s budget for 2018. Gross expenditure of €3.264 billion is budgeted for my Department this year. This represents an increase of almost €1.2 billion or 55% on the provision in 2017. The gross provision for 2018 is made up of €1.633 billion in current spending and €1.631 billion on the capital side. In addition, my Department’s programmes will benefit in 2018 from resources of some €621 million that will be available from the Local Government Fund.

To continue reading, go here.

You can watch a video of the proceedings here (part 1) and here (part 2).

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Metro Hotel Fire

Posted March 23rd, 2018

This week incredible bravery from our Fire Services saved lives when the Metro Hotel caught fire – I addressed this in the Dáil. You can read my comments below.

A fire broke out in an apartment on the 13th floor of the Metro Hotel and apartment building in Ballymun at approximately 8 p.m. last night, Wednesday, 21 March 2018. The fire extensively damaged the 13th and 10th floors of the building. The building was evacuated successfully and there are no reports of missing persons or injuries at this point. Eleven units of Dublin Fire Brigade, comprising eight fire engines, two aerial appliances and the incident command unit, involving approximately 60 firefighters under the command of the chief fire officer, responded and assisted with evacuation, as well as fighting the fire.

At this point, I am sure Deputies on all sides will join with me in expressing appreciation to the emergency services and all others involved in responding to the incident last night. They are incredibly brave in the work they do.

I turn now to the fire safety task force. I established it in response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy of 14 June 2017 in recognition of fears expressed for fire safety in Ireland. On 27 June 2017, I tasked my Department’s National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management with convening and co-ordinating a high level task force to lead Ireland’s reappraisal of fire safety.

Continue reading here.

To watch a video of the exchange in the Dáil, go here.

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