Dail Eireann

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.

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.

  • Join the team!