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 Header Item Housing Data (Continued)
 Header Item Traveller Accommodation

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 979 No. 6

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Eoin Ó Broin: Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin] On the basis of that target - it is a direct quote - the Government is 43% behind halfway through the plan. Somebody changed the wording of my question and it does not reflect the original wording. In order to meet that key Rebuilding Ireland target, the Government must increase output annually to somewhere close to 35,000 units. Either the Minister has changed the Rebuilding Ireland target and not told anybody, or else he must explain to the House how, if the Government is to reach that crucial target, it will get to 35,000 units per year between now and 2021, which is what would be required to meet the target set in the plan.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy Somebody also originally changed my gender in the question; therefore, we apologise if something was lost in translation.

The Deputy might be misreading the Rebuilding Ireland plan with the selective quote mentioned. What we have always spoken about in Rebuilding Ireland is ramping up to a point where we will be producing at least 25,000 units per year and continuing that delivery for a number of years. Beyond the end of Rebuilding Ireland is Project Ireland 2040, the national planning framework and development plan which has the goal of increasing the number to 35,000 homes per year and driving delivery out to 2027. The capital plan for housing agreed as part of Project Ireland 2040 is the next phase of Rebuilding Ireland, but it is clearly at a high level to get us to an output of 35,000 units per year to 2027. Within it, we will maintain our commitment to one in four and one in five homes built every year being social housing homes, reflecting the great progress being made under Rebuilding Ireland to increase the stock of social housing and ensuring Rebuilding Ireland will complete by the end of 2021 the ambition of delivering social housing in tandem with housing more generally in the economy. That will continue with the national planning framework and Project Ireland 2040. The increase in the number of new places to live was significant in 2018. The number of builds of over 18,000 was the highest compared to any other year this decade and it will be higher again this year. Construction is moving very quickly in the right direction. We must continue to drive that delivery to get to 35,000 homes per year, which is what we anticipate will happen under Project Ireland 2040 at the conclusion of Rebuilding Ireland.

Deputy Eoin Ó Broin: Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin Rebuilding Ireland is crystal clear and the direct quote comes from both the plan and the Rebuilding Ireland website. It states, "to ensure that an average of 25,000 homes are produced every year in the period to 2021". I am not disputing that the figure of 18,000 is an improvement on 14,000 in the year before and 9,000 in the year before that. I welcome every new home that is available, public or private. However, at the centre of the Minister's plan there is a key commitment and it seems that he does not understand it; rather than what the document promises - an average of 25,000 homes in each year of the plan - he is now saying we will only reach 25,000 at the end. As clearly there is confusion on the Minister's side, I ask him again how he will reach that key target, given that he is now 43% behind and that meeting it will require 35,000 units to be built each year.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I thank the Deputy for the question. He is misrepresenting the targets set in Rebuilding Ireland. The confusion is not on my side.

Deputy Eoin Ó Broin: Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin I am quoting the plan.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy The Deputy is quoting out of context. I cannot see what else is around the sentence. Nobody suggested we would build 25,000 homes in 2016 or 2017.

Deputy Eoin Ó Broin: Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin Absolutely.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy It was always about ramping up to 25,000 units per year and maintaining that number.

Deputy Eoin Ó Broin: Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin That is not what the plan states.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy A new ambition was to bring it to 35,000 homes per year under Project Ireland 2040. I thank the Deputy for welcoming the increase in housing numbers happening under Rebuilding Ireland and recognising, because of the policies in Rebuilding Ireland, the increase in housing numbers that is happening.

Deputy Eoin Ó Broin: Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin The plan is 43% behind target. Is the Minister accepting that the Government will not meet its own target?

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy No. The Deputy is using statistics to misrepresent the position. That is not what is happening. We have seen a dramatic increase in home building under Rebuilding Ireland.

Deputy Eoin Ó Broin: Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin Is the Minister accepting that the Government will not reach its target?

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I am just glad that the Deputy is accepting that Rebuilding Ireland is working. It is the plan and driving house delivery.

Deputy Eoin Ó Broin: Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin As it is 43% behind target, it is not working.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy We still have to hear what Sinn Féin's plan would be to replace Rebuilding Ireland as it takes every opportunity to state we should throw it out. That is despite the fact that it is working to increase dramatically the supply of homes.

Deputy Eoin Ó Broin: Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin It is 43% behind target.

  Question No. 30 answered with Question No. 27.

Traveller Accommodation

 31. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy his plans to rectify, as a matter of urgency, fire safety for Travellers in circumstances in which fire safety regulation exemptions on temporary emergency sites exist and there is no time limit on such sites remaining as temporary in view of the Carrickmines fire inquest.  [8394/19]

 76. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy his plans to address fire safety for Travellers in circumstances in which fire safety regulation exemptions on temporary emergency sites exist and there is no time limit on such sites remaining as temporary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8244/19]

Deputy Jan O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan This question relates to plans to address fire safety for Travellers in circumstances in which fire safety regulation exemptions on temporary emergency sites exist and there is no time limit on such sites remaining as temporary. That is the context of the Carrickmines disaster.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English I propose to take Questions Nos. 31 and 76 together.

In accordance with the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act 1998, local authorities have statutory responsibility for the assessment of the accommodation needs of Travellers and the preparation, adoption and implementation of multi-annual Traveller accommodation programmes, TAPs, in their areas. My Department's role is to ensure there are adequate structures and supports in place to assist the local authorities in providing such accommodation, including a national framework of policy, legislation and funding.

Following the tragic loss of life in Carrickmines, County Dublin, on 10 October 2015, my Department's national directorate for fire and emergency management was tasked with developing and overseeing a programme to review and enhance fire safety in local authority-provided Traveller accommodation. This was undertaken in association with and supported by Travellers’ representative groups. As part of the review process, a working draft of a Guide to Fire Safety in Existing Traveller Accommodation was developed. The guidance document included fire safety advice and guidance and standards applicable in various types of Traveller accommodation. Fire safety in domestic settings is a shared responsibility and the guide emphasises an approach to life safety through the prevention of fires, fire safety awareness and early detection and warning of fire through working smoke alarms. My Department published the report on the programme to review and enhance fire safety in local authority provided Traveller accommodation on 21 September 2016.

The inquest into the tragedy at Carrickmines concluded recently and recommended that the working draft Guide to Fire Safety in Existing Traveller Accommodation be adopted as best practice. The process of formal approval of the draft document for publication as national guidance is at an advanced stage and expected to be completed at the next scheduled meeting of the management board of the national directorate for fire and emergency management on 28 February 2019. My Department will be writing to bring the updated document to the attention of all local authorities and advising on the use of the document as the basis for fire safety requirements in all Traveller accommodation, irrespective of whether the site is permanent or temporary.

Deputy Jan O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan I thank the Minister of State for his response and providing clarity. Will he reiterate that it will apply to temporary sites, as we know a terrible tragedy occurred in Carrickmines? Will he indicate when he expects the work to conclude and the guidance to be given to local authorities? What will he do to ensure local authorities will abide by the guidance in the interests of protecting lives?

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English While there is no specific time limit for the use of sites on a temporary basis under the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act 1998, local authorities are required to make adequate provision for transient and permanent sites in their programmes. The guidance is provided for temporary sites and local authorities will be encouraged to use it as best practice. It was set in conjunction with the local authorities and Traveller representative bodies. I hope it will formally become best practice at next week's meeting and that we will not delay in issuing it as formal guidance. We will follow up with local authorities as everybody takes his or her responsibilities seriously. The guidance will probably help local authorities in dealing with temporary sites, but we are clear that it applies, whether the site is permanent or temporary.

Deputy Jan O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan There was a previous question concerning the underspending of money for Traveller sites. Local authorities will not be able to use the excuse that they do not have the money required. Will the Minister of State clarify that he will ensure local authorities will spend the money required to guarantee safety?

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English We will continue to increase capital funding for this purpose. There is no reason urgent fire safety works cannot be carried out. There is no excuse. I understand the difficulties in respect of new accommodation and sites because of the different stakeholders involved, but in the refurbishment of existing sites, there should be no delay in implementing the required changes.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Does Deputy Ó Broin wish to ask the next question?

Deputy Eoin Ó Broin: Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin As I would only have approximately 30 seconds to do so, I am happy to receive a written answer.


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