Dail Eireann


Once-off Planning in Rural Ireland

Posted February 8th, 2018

This morning in the Seanad we spoke about rural living and how we will approach relevant planning issues in the National Planning Framework. You can read my speech below.

I thank Senator Lombard for giving me the opportunity to outline the current position regarding the impact of the Flemish decree case on one-off housing in rural areas, and to provide an update on the revision of the 2005 planning guidelines on sustainable rural housing issued under section 28 of the Planning Act and also to clarify some misconceptions regarding rural policies on the issue contained in the national planning framework.

Under the 2005 guidelines planning authorities are required to frame the planning policies in their development plans in a balanced and measured way that ensures the housing needs of rural communities are met, while avoiding excessive urban-generated housing and haphazard development, particularly in those areas near cities and towns that are under pressure from urban generated development.

To continue reading, go here.

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


Affordable Housing

Posted January 31st, 2018

Last night in the Dáil we spoke about affordable housing during Private Members Business. You can read my contribution below.

With tens of thousands of new homes planned to be built throughout the country in the coming years, we must ensure that they are affordable. There is a clear plan of action to achieve this. We have worked to remove costs and obstacles for builders to make projects viable in order that they can deliver more affordable homes. To achieve this, we have taken action by streamlining planning with a new fast-track process for large developments.

There will be 10,000 homes under pre-consultation under that new process. A total of 5,000 are still under consideration and there have been decisions on 3,000 of these homes within the timelines agreed.

To continue reading, go here.

To watch a video of the debate, go here.



Parliamentary Questions

Posted January 31st, 2018

Today in the Dáil I answered parliamentary questions about the affordable housing scheme, private rented accommodation standards and LIHAF (Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund) developments.

You can watch a video of the exchanges here.

Read the questions and answers here.


Residential Tenancies Bill

Posted January 25th, 2018

We recently spoke in the Dáil about the developing the rental sector. You can read my speech below.

I acknowledge the substance of the Bill and its genuine motivation to improve the situation for tenants at a time of under-supply in the residential rental sector. It also addresses some issues that will be covered in forthcoming legislation that is a priority for my Department. The Government will not oppose the passage of this Bill.

The Bill raises some issues that have been considered and addressed in recent legislation and in the Government’s strategy for the rental sector, which was published in December 2016. The rental strategy sets out the Government’s vision for a strong, viable and attractive rental sector, supported by a policy and regulatory framework that delivers long-term, affordable and high quality accommodation solutions to meet diverse tenants’ needs and a secure, predictable investment environment for landlords and accommodation providers. The rental strategy contains 29 actions aimed at achieving improvements in respect of security, standards, services and supply in the residential rental sector. Implementation of the strategy is well under way with many rental reforms already introduced and in train.

Go here to continue reading.

You can watch a video of the debate here.


Answering Parliamentary Questions

Posted December 13th, 2017

Last week I answered questions in the Dáil about affordability, you can read my replies below.

We are about to announce an affordability scheme and it is being designed at the moment. I have met with bodies like Ó Cualann which have carried out affordability projects through running co-operative housing with local authorities, so as to see how we can draw up our own affordability scheme criteria.

It is important to acknowledge here that we need to get the criteria right for accessing affordable homes. We are bringing back affordability. It had been stood down as part of social and affordable housing and we are now bringing it back. The most important thing is that the houses get built, and when they are built we will then have a scheme in place for every local authority to access.

The allocation of €25 million announced in the budget is for 2018 and 2019 and will deliver at least 650 affordable homes using local authority sites. That is but the minimum of what we expect to deliver from that €25 million. I ask the Deputy to look at the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund, LIHAF, funding to date. Of the €200 million allocated under LIHAF 1, 30% of the sites involved will include affordability schemes that can be accessed under the new affordability criteria scheme when it is announced.

Go here to continue reading or here to watch the video.

hb ss

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.


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.

water ss

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.

PMB ss

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.


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.


  • Join the team!