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 Header Item Carbon Tax Collection (Continued)
 Header Item Homeless Persons Supports

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 802 No. 1

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Deputy Brendan Smith: Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith I thank the Minister for his reply. I compliment the Revenue Commissioners on the excellent work they have been doing in recent years to deal with the scourge of washed diesel and the illicit trade in diesel, in particular, but also in tobacco products. I know from speaking to those officials that they are dealing with a very difficult issue and have made substantial progress, which we welcome. We want to ensure that type of illicit trade is eliminated as far as is practicable. Being realists, we know that it is not possible for the Revenue Commissioners or any State agency or its officers to police on an ongoing basis the Border areas in the constituencies that the Minister of State, Deputy McGinley, and I represent.

In his concluding sentence, the Minister said that the Revenue Commissioners would liaise with the bodies to which I referred. One of the fuel merchants made the point that they need assurance that there will be good policing in the new situation that has arisen with regard to solid fuels. Co-ordination is needed to ensure that if there is a marked decrease in the legitimate sale of products south of the Border, some action will be taken to deal with the illegal supply. When the Minister is planning the budget, I ask him to consider not applying the increase proposed for May 2014, because the British Government has not yet indicated whether its carbon charge will apply to solid fuel products in the North of Ireland. We need to plan as much as possible for the difficulties that will arise for this business south of the Border too.

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The Deputy has raised three issues in his supplementary question, one of which was the level of enforcement by the Revenue Commissioners and how they will co-operate with other authorities. They have assured me that they are intent on rigorous enforcement using all the powers under the tax Acts and that they will liaise with other authorities. The second issue is the high sulphur content of some coals that come from Northern Ireland, particularly if they are sourced in Scotland. There are regulations already promulgated by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government and enforced by local authorities to do with the quality of solid fuel burned, particularly coals with high sulphur contents. They will continue their enforcement as they have been doing up to now but they will cross-refer anything they do to the Revenue Commissioners, which will be in contact with the local authorities to see if enforcement is required or if there is a trail that can be followed to source smuggling from Northern Ireland.

The third question is a budgetary matter. When I extended the carbon charge to solid fuels I said we would bring in only 50% of the tax this May, with the other 50% to be brought in next May. However, we do take cognisance of what the British authorities are doing in Northern Ireland because we do not want legitimate trade to evaporate across the Border because of price differentials.

Homeless Persons Supports

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh I appeal to the Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and to the Government to take an interest in St. Catherine's Foyer, which has been in place since 2004. Will the Minister of State intervene before a final decision is made to close or alter the management ethos of the Cara Foyer in Marrowbone Lane? There were other Cara foyers elsewhere. Dublin City Council and the Simon Community are in discussions about this centre. The main source of funding is the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government via Dublin City Council. The current discussions have not included the local community in any way. The community is hearing by drip-feed about the proposals to turn the foyer into a general homeless shelter. This is not a case of NIMBY-ism. That is not the attitude. The community wants this facility to remain and does not want it altered.

What is being proposed is contrary to the commitment given to the community when it agreed to have the foyer built on its community space when its sports and youth centre was being built. The community was told that unless it allowed the foyer to be built it would get nothing. Thanks to the combination of the St. Catherine's residents' association, the Coalition of Communities against Drugs and Dublin City Council, two fine facilities were built in this severely disadvantaged area of the south inner city. Hundreds of young people and many adults use the sports complex, which shares an entrance with the 48-bed foyer, every day. This is a mixed complex and to the best of my knowledge there has not been one incident or problem between the residents of the foyer and the local community, which augurs well for the future if it is allowed to continue under the ethos and management that it has now.

Up to 14 people between the ages of 18 and 25 years who are homeless or at risk of being homeless can have their own space in this centre for up to two years while they are getting on their feet and availing of a key worker in the complex, as well as other services including educational opportunities and access to work placements. It has been an innovative, unique and holistic answer to the needs of many young homeless people in Dublin and has been very successful. It is a safe space that is now at risk from a proposed change which would allow anybody from the homeless list in the Dublin City Council area, which includes drug users and convicted sex offenders, to invade this space next to a youth centre that is used by hundreds of people every day. If the foyer is changed to a homeless shelter, of which there are already several in the constituency, it will not be the centre of excellence that it has been. This is of concern to the community. I urge the Minister of State to ensure that if Cara wishes to extract itself from the foyer, other options are considered, such as its being taken on by Dublin City Council or another youth organisation to ensure the facility is retained and the community is safe.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information on Dinny McGinley Zoom on Dinny McGinley Unfortunately, the Minister of State with responsibility for housing and planning, Deputy Jan O'Sullivan, is not available to take this debate today, but she has asked me to thank the Deputy for providing this opportunity to discuss the issue of homelessness and the Government's response to it.

The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government's role in respect of homelessness involves the provision of a national framework of policy, legislation and funding to underpin the role of housing authorities in addressing homelessness at local level. Statutory responsibility for the provision of accommodation and related services for homeless persons rests with the housing authorities - in this instance, Dublin City Council. The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government has no function in this regard, nor is it involved in decisions on operational matters.

I understand St. Catherine's Foyer is a housing facility in Dublin 8 which deals exclusively with young people aged 18 to 25 who have experienced homelessness or are in danger of becoming homeless. The facility can accommodate up to 40 individuals for stays of up to two years. There is a focus on personal development and all residents are assigned a member of staff who assists them in achieving life goals such as education, skills development, job searching and emotional development.

The future day-to-day operational management of St. Catherine's Foyer is a matter under consideration by the board of the foyer - that is, Cara Housing Association Limited. This consideration relates to its ongoing role as a management agent in the provision of homeless services in Dublin.

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