Dail Eireann

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.

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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.

Climate Action & Low Carbon Development

Posted December 7th, 2018

I got the chance to speak about tackling climate change in the Seanad on Tuesday, along with some of my fellow Ministers. You can read my statement below.

I am delighted to be here today, with my Government colleagues, to address the Seanad on this very important issue. I want to first talk about the context for my own Department as we address these issues, which is very much set out in Project Ireland 2040, which the Government launched earlier this year. It is the overarching planning and investment framework for the social, economic and cultural development of Ireland. As the House knows, it includes a detailed capital investment plan for the period 2018-27, which is the national development plan, NDP, in support of a long-term transformational spatial strategy for the country, detailed in the national planning framework, NPF, element of Project Ireland 2040.

The aligned and shared vision of the NPF, in tandem with the NDP, represents a joined-up planning and investment strategy for Ireland’s future growth and development, focused on a series of ten shared national outcomes. Foremost among these is climate action and the national objective to transition to a low carbon and climate resilient society by 2050. Policy that will assist in making that transition and meeting our climate obligations is woven throughout the NPF and the NDP. When we talk about shared outcomes reflected in both documents that are fundamentally supportive of climate action, we are talking about compact growth, sustainable mobility and sustainable management of water, waste and other environmental resources.

All include significant elements of policy that provide a strong platform for the development of measures and actions in response to climate change. The overall NPF strategy seeks to achieve a better balance of development between the regions, a greater focus on Ireland’s cities, supporting Ireland’s rural fabric and targeting more compact growth in the development of settlements of all sizes, from the largest city to the smallest village.

Continue reading here.

Social Housing

Posted November 28th, 2018

On Thursday we debated the approach being taken to building social housing. You can read my comments below.

We talked at the Housing Agency conference about sustainability, specifically sustainability in housing delivery. “Sustainable” is a contested space, a political space. It has many different meanings: economic sustainability, social sustainability, etc. It is not a neutral political term.

The Deputy and I have fundamentally different ideas of a sustainable housing market. He wants a single-source solution involving one source of finance, one source of delivery. I think we need multiple streams to protect us from shocks we have not even considered yet that could come in the future. In the past we relied on a single stream of delivery for social housing and it did not work.

We can all agree that Part V did not work under previous Governments because the Government came to rely too much on it for the delivery of social housing. That delivery did not happen because developers bought out of their responsibility.

To continue reading, go here.

To watch a video of my speech,  go here.

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