Dail Eireann

Water Treatment & Protection

Posted November 21st, 2018

Yesterday in the Dáil I spoke about the treatment and protection of water in rural areas – you can read my speech below.

I thank the Deputy and congratulate him for bringing forward this Bill. I am glad that he has provided an opportunity for us to debate this issue in the House because it is important.

It comes at a time when we are focusing on making improvements to rural water services in the context of the water services policy statement which I published earlier this year. That statement reflects the priorities set out in Project Ireland 2040, our national planning framework for the next 20 years. It also sets out the national policy objective, which is facilitating single housing in the countryside based on siting and design criteria for rural housing in statutory plans and having regard to the viability of smaller towns and rural settlements. Essentially we are talking about protecting our communities. This is exactly what the national planning framework speaks to.

Some 75% of future growth will happen outside of Dublin. Protecting and maintaining the viability of our rural communities is a priority for this Government and the role of single housing in maintaining those communities is essential, provided such development does not have a negative impact on our natural environment.

Continue reading here.

In the Dáil last week I answered parliamentary questions: our priority of supporting individuals and families experiencing homelessness; the national student accommodation strategy which sets a target to facilitate 4,000 students by end 2019 and; speeding up the planning applications.

You can read the exchanges here.

Water Services

Posted November 7th, 2018

In the Dáil this week I spoke about how we are improving and investing in our water services around the country. You can read my contribution below.

High-quality, sustainable water services are a fundamental necessity for our citizens and environment and we do not distinguish between rural or urban areas when talking about the application of those principles. The motion highlights some significant issues of interest and concern around the need for investment in rural water services which are shared by the Government. The motion calls for a series of action across a number of areas, most of which are already being addressed. In many instances the Government is going beyond what is sought in the motion.

However, there are elements within the motion that convey an impression that insufficient attention is being given to rural water services. I want to assure Deputies that this is not the case. A huge amount is being done and is being planned to be done in the future.

Overall though, the Government has no fundamental issue with the sentiment behind the motion and much of what it says. In these circumstances the Government will not be opposing or seeking to amend the motion just for the sake of It. I therefore want to advise the Deputies who proposed the motion, and the House, that the Government will not be voting against this motion tonight. Nevertheless, in responding, I want to defend the commitment of the Government to supporting water services in rural areas. 

Continue reading here.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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