Dail Eireann

Budget 2020

Posted October 11th, 2019

I was very happy to see an increase of funding of over €250 million for my Department in next year’s budget. With €2.6 billion for housing alone, this investment will see the social housing needs of over 27,500 additional households being met in 2020, of which in excess of 11,000 will have their needs met in a home provided by a local authority or Approved Housing Body.

The extra funding will allow us to better address homelessness, assist in providing affordable housing and improve the rental sector. See some of the main points below.

  • €2.63 billion – 11% increase on 2019 and highest investment in housing by any Government in a single year
  • Social housing needs of 27,517 households to be met in 2020
  • 11,167 new homes will be added to the stock of social housing through build, acquisition and long-term leasing
  • We will build 7,736 more social housing homes – more build homes than in any other year this century
  • 5,500 adults and their children will exit homelessness

 

Continue reading here.

You can watch my Dáil speech here.

To see some of the main points from Budget 2020, go here.

Answering Priority Questions

Posted September 20th, 2019

Yesterday in the Dáil I answered priority questions on how we are using government land, Cost Rental housing schemes and recent overflows at water treatment plants.

You can watch a video of the session here.

You can read the questions and answers here.

I brought the Citizens’ Assemblies Bill through the Seanad last week – it passed all stages. You can read my contribution below. The Bill will be before the Dáil this week.

The Citizens’ Assemblies Bill 2019 is a technical Bill to enable the register of electors to be used for selecting members of the citizens’ assemblies which the Government agreed on 11 June to establish. Two assemblies are being established, the Citizens’ Assembly 2019 and the Dublin Citizens’ Assembly.

The role of the Citizens’ Assembly will be to bring forward proposals to advance gender equality under a number of specific headings. The role of the Dublin Citizens’ Assembly will be to consider the best model of local government for Dublin and, in particular, the issue of a directly-elected mayor and his or her powers. These assemblies will operate under the aegis of the Department of the Taoiseach and will comprise a chairperson and 99 citizens selected randomly from local authorities’ registers of electors.

The same chairperson but a different selection of 99 persons from the Dublin local authorities’ registers of electors will make up the Dublin Citizens’ Assembly. The assemblies are to be run consecutively, commencing with the Citizens’ Assembly on gender equality at the end of October this year, and will take six months each to complete the work involved.

Continue reading here.

Seanad – Reactivating Vacant Homes

Posted July 3rd, 2019

Last week in the Seanad we discussed measures to bring vacant homes back in to use. You can read my contribution below.

I thank Senator Mulherin for raising this important issue and for giving me an opportunity to set out the extensive range of measures this Government has introduced to allow for the reactivation of long term vacant residential dwellings back into the liveable housing stock.

An overarching action within Pillar 5 of Rebuilding Ireland is a commitment to develop a National Vacant Housing Reuse Strategy, which I published in July 2018. The Strategy strives to provide a targeted, effective and co-ordinated approach to identifying and tackling vacancy across Ireland.

My Department and local authorities have already been proactive in dealing with vacant properties with all local authorities having prepared Vacant Homes Action Plans. In addition, there are a number of schemes available to incentivise reactivating appropriate dwellings into the liveable housing stock.

Continue reading here.

At the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government I gave an update on the Rebuilding Ireland plan and we also discussed the new regulations for short term letting. You can read my contribution below.

As I have stated on many occasions, supporting families and individuals experiencing homelessness continues to be a priority for this Government and for me, as Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government. That is why we are so focused on the accelerated delivery of social, affordable and private housing and the reform of our rental sector and planning system. This morning the Department is publishing the homelessness report for April. The report shows that in April there was an overall increase of 73 people in emergency accommodation. The report also shows that there was a reduction of four families and 27 dependants from March.

In Dublin, where the problem of family homelessness is most pronounced, we are seeing some positive results arising from the prevention work being carried out by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive. In the first four months of the year, one in two families presenting to homeless services in the Dublin region were prevented from having to enter emergency accommodation. That is progress but is nowhere near enough. We are also seeing increased exits with 329 families exiting emergency accommodation to a home in the first four months of this year. So some improvements and some progress but there is still a very big challenge ahead.

Continue reading here.

You can watch a video of the committee proceedings here.

Seanad – New Fires Safety Measures

Posted June 5th, 2019

Last week in the Seanad I gave an update on new fire safety measures we’ve introduced. You can read my statement below.

I very much welcome the opportunity to be here today to discuss this very important issue of fire safety in apartment buildings. I think we are all agreed that this is a very important issue during construction but, of course, also during the lifetime of what is a person’s home. The overall aim of the building regulations is to provide for the safety and welfare of people in and as they go about buildings. Of course fire safety and life safety is a human issue, a safety and health and protection matter but discussing it can be quite technical so my apologies for some of the jargon as I address the different aspects of the building codes that we have and how they are implemented.

Part B, fire safety, of the Second Schedule to the building regulations sets out the legal requirements regarding fire safety in respect of new buildings, including apartments, and in respect of existing buildings undergoing works involving an extension, material alteration or certain material changes of use. Historic buildings predate, in some cases by centuries, the introduction of building regulations, which do not create retrospective requirements on existing buildings. These buildings will generally attract the requirements of the Fire Services Acts 1981 and 2003. Broadly paraphrasing, this places obligations on those having control over a building to guard against the outbreak of fire and make provision for the safety of people in the event of fire.

Continue reading here.

Homeless Supports in Galway

Posted May 30th, 2019

In the Dáil I was asked about supports for people facing homelessness in Galway. You can read my response below.

Supporting individuals and families experiencing homelessness is a priority for the Government. Rebuilding Ireland, the Government’s Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, is being implemented to deliver a range of measures to address homelessness and increase the supply of all types of housing – social, affordable and private.

By 2021, some 50,000 new social homes – not including those delivered under the HAP – will be provided and housing output generally will be progressively increased towards the target of producing 25,000 new homes per year through all channels available to us. Galway City Council has a target of delivering almost 1,100 new social homes between 2018 and 2021 through build, acquisition and leasing initiatives.

The focus of the Government is to prevent homelessness to the greatest extent possible while ensuring that pathways for individuals and families in emergency accommodation are secured as quickly as possible. Budget 2019 reflects the commitment of the Government in this regard, with an allocation of €146 million for the provision of homeless services by local authorities in 2019, an increase of more than 25% on the 2018 allocation. In addition, €60 million extra in capital funding has been provided for additional emergency accommodation and €1.25 billion for the delivery of new social homes.

Continue reading here.

You can watch a video of the exchange here.

Committee – Changing Rental Laws

Posted April 17th, 2019

Last week at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government we debated my proposed amendments to help improve the rental sector and give tenants greater housing security.

You can watch the committee session here.

Find out more about my proposals here.

Taking Questions in the Dáil

Posted April 17th, 2019

Last week in the Dáil I answered priority questions about the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan and the Shannon to Dublin water pipeline.

You can read the exchanges here.

Residential Tenancies Bill

Posted January 25th, 2019

This week I presented the Residential Tenancies Bill to the Dáil. It’s a bill I feel passionate about and believe will help fix the private rental sector but most importantly help those experiencing rent difficulties today and into the future. You can read my speech below.

We all know that we are in the middle of a serious homelessness crisis. All of our efforts, as a Government and as an Oireachtas, are being directed towards solutions that will help bring this crisis to an end. Fundamentally, supply must be – and is being – increased, thanks to the policies that this Government is spearheading through Rebuilding Ireland.

As supply increases we also have to ensure that we are protecting people who are currently struggling with housing affordability and security issues. This places a particular focus on the need to continue to reform our rental sector. The rental sector in Ireland still needs to develop and mature in order to provide a viable, sustainable and attractive alternative to home ownership, rather than serving as a temporary refuge or a staging post on the route to home ownership.

Continue reading here.

Go here to watch a short video of my introduction.

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