Dail Eireann

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Helping Those Who Become Homeless

Posted November 22nd, 2017

Last week during Private Members Business I outlined to the Dáil how we help people when they encounter a crisis in their lives like becoming homeless. You can read my speech below or watch it here.

I thank Deputy Jan O’Sullivan for providing this opportunity for the House to discuss the various actions on homelessness that are being implemented, and the various challenges and difficulties that remain.

Significant work is being carried out across the sector by housing authorities, approved housing bodies and homeless service providers to tackle and address the housing crisis and the serious challenges facing us. When I took up office, I made it clear that tackling issues of housing and homelessness would be a top priority for me and the Government. As I have stated consistently in this House, one homeless individual or family is one too many. A lot has been achieved in this regard in a short space of time but clearly, a lot more remains to be done.

I acknowledge the good intention behind Deputy O’Sullivan’s Bill, intentions that I share and for that reason the Government is supporting her Bill.

Go here to continue reading.

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On Tuesday we spoke about short term letting and if we need regulation in this area. You can read my speech below or watch the video here (51 minutes in).

Thanks to members of the Seanad for providing the opportunity, this evening, to discuss the report of the Joint Committee on Housing, Planning & Local Government on the Impact of Short-term Lettings on Ireland’s Housing and Rental Market and my plans to address this.

I want to thank the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government for their work in preparing their report on the sector. I am pleased that, broadly speaking, the recommendations of the report mirror the anticipated approach I hope to propose.

The Strategy for the Rental Sector, published nearly a year ago, recognised the potential issue of significant numbers of properties being withdrawn from the long-term rental market for use as short-term tourism-related lettings.  It recognised the negative impact this would have for the supply and availability of residential rental accommodation.

Continue reading here.

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Water Services Bill – Final Stage

Posted November 9th, 2017

Yesterday I brought the Water Bill through its final stage in the Dáil. You can read my closing statement below or watch the video here.

I will not delay the Bill much longer. I thank Deputies for their co-operation in dealing with it in the past few months. I thank the water charges committee for the extensive work it did, as well as the expert group and the joint Oireachtas committee for the time they took to consider the Bill. I do not view it as a victory for the people. I view it as political parties and politicians trying to use the issue to score points for their own political gain against a Government that is trying to recover an economy and a country. It is a great disservice to the public they claim to represent. After the general election in 2016, we had to put a Government together. That meant putting stability above populism, which is exactly what Fine Gael sought to do. Nevertheless, I hope the Bill will settle the matter for a number of years.

We have a single utility in Irish Water. Regardless of whatever people might like to think about the good work it has already done, it has done good work. It has proved itself in a number of instances in the work it is doing to help people who previously had been subject to “boil water” notices, to repair extensive parts of the water mains and infrastructure that had not been repaired previously and to help in times of crisis, including when Storm Ophelia struck in restoring people’s water supplies, being part of the national emergency co-ordination group and working with ESB Networks to make sure the water infrastructure power supply was prioritised in those few days.

To continue reading, go here.

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Debate on Rental Standards

Posted November 8th, 2017

Yesterday in the Dáil we spoke about rental standards during Private Members Business. You can read my contribution below.

I would also like to thank Sinn Fein Deputies for providing the opportunity, this evening, to discuss the appalling revelations regarding breaches of minimum standards in the private rental sector, which were aired in last week’s RTE Investigates documentary.

What we witnessed was horrendous and degrading. No one should have to live like this – no one should be allowed to live like this.

The properties shown have been closed down and the landlord is being pursued, as is only right and proper. It would seem that this was not an accidental breach of standards; rather it would appear to be the wilful and deliberate exploitation of a powerless group of people in our community.

To continue reading, go here.

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Private Members Business

Posted October 31st, 2017

Last week in the Dáil we discussed how the housing crisis is being handled and the balancing of individual rights with the public good. You can read my contribution below.

The Government has responded to the current housing crisis with a comprehensive range of actions, policy initiatives and increased investments, as outlined in the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, the Strategy for the Rental Sector and other relevant policies and actions, with the aim of increasing and accelerating supply across all housing tenures, and providing increased targeted supports for households in need, especially those in emergency accommodation or at risk of becoming homeless;

while it recognises the rights conferred by the Constitution of Ireland on private property, the Government has already taken steps to balance these rights with targeted interventions and proportionate measures that impact on these rights in the interests of the common good;

a range of such policy interventions are already in force, including:

– provisions under Part V of the Planning and Development Acts to cede a percentage, currently ten per cent, of residentially zoned and permitted land for social housing provision;

– compulsory purchase powers that enable public bodies to acquire lands or properties for housing purposes;

– the introduction of a Vacant Site Levy as a charge on vacant or underutilised housing lands in urban areas to incentivise their development or redevelopment and the announcement in Budget 2018 that the Levy will be more than doubled to seven per cent per annum from 2019;

To continue reading, go here.

 

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National Planning Framework

Posted October 27th, 2017

Yesterday I spoke in the Dáil about the National Planning Framework (NPF). You can read my speech below.

You can have your say on the NPF plan – a public consultation remains open until 10th November, here.

The publication of the final National Planning Framework (NPF) consultation represents a unique opportunity to set out an ambitious vision and 20-year strategy for what our country should and can look like in 2040.

The National Planning Framework is primarily about planning properly for what will be one of the fastest growing economies in Europe over the next couple of decades,

-Focusing development in existing villages, towns and cities; and

-Realising the potential of our regions and our rural areas.

 

To continue reading, go here.

 

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Water Services Bill 2017

Posted September 29th, 2017

This week I brought forward legislation dealing with the future of Irish Water, charges and funding. You can read my speech below.

“The Bill provides for the repealing of the 2014 domestic water charging regime and it introduces a new regime focused on the promotion of water conservation under which a levy will apply in certain circumstances for usage of water above a reasonable threshold.

“In making these changes, provisions is made in the Bill for the extinguishing of liabilities under the current regime and the making of refunds to the 990,000 customers who paid in accordance with the 2014 Act. This will give rise to a new funding model for Irish Water, which is underpinned by the Bill.”

To continue reading, go here.

You can watch a video of my speech here.

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Quarterly Report on Housing

Posted July 14th, 2017

In the Dáil I spoke about my approach to housing and homelessness as I undertake my review of Rebuilding Ireland.

Read my statement below or watch the video here.

I thank Deputies and committee members for scheduling time to discuss the homeless emergency and housing crisis we are currently facing. I have already had the opportunity to appear in front of the committee to discuss the latest quarterly report on Rebuilding Ireland. It was a good engagement and I want to thank individual members of the committee who were very generous with their ideas and time outside of the committee. This opportunity for statements on the latest report is very welcome. To those Deputies not on the committee, I would like to direct them to my opening statement at the committee.

Click here to continue reading.

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The Cost of Insurance Working Group, which I chair, has published its first report on the implementation of our action plan to tackle the rise in motor premiums. Read the first progress report of the working group here.

The Government’s approach to this issue has been based not on promising what we can’t deliver, since it is legally impossible for us to directly intervene in commercial costing decisions made by insurance companies, but has instead focussed on those areas we can influence, like the claims environment, while improving transparency for consumers.

The Central Statistics Office has now reported, here, that there has been no month-on-month increase in the cost of motor insurance for the first three months of the year.

We will continue to work on implementing the working group’s action plan and encouraging new entrants to the market in order to deliver better value for motorists.

Watch my comments on this issue in the Dáil this week here (six minutes in).

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Dáil Question on Brexit Relocations

Posted April 11th, 2017

FINANCIAL services companies will be relocating to Ireland in the wake of Brexit, I told the Dáil this week, while adding that it is up to the firms themselves when they choose to announce this.

Central to our efforts to attract businesses here is our strategy for growing financial services. IFS2020 set out the aim of creating 10,000 new financial services jobs in the five years to the end of 2019. We are on course to achieve that.

One of the pillars of the IFS strategy for this year is looking at education, training and skills development and attracting Irish emigrants back home into these high-level jobs that are being created, not just in Dublin, but also Cork and other parts of the country.

Watch a video of my comments in the Dáil here.

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