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Order of Business

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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

Senator Boyhan asked for the Taoiseach to come to the House. I have put that request to the Department of the Taoiseach. He is looking forward to coming to the House and having a debate with us on a variety of issues. I hope it will be possible to have him in the House before Christmas. We are endeavouring to confirm that and I will work through the offices of the Cathaoirleach and the Seanad in that regard.
Senators Ned O'Sullivan and Paul Coghlan raised the issue of tourism and particularly the issue of the decline in visitor numbers from the UK. We need to see more marketing, visibility and encouragement in respect of our friends from the UK who, as Senator O'Sullivan said, visit the whole of the island. It is important that we work on that.
Senator Norris made reference to the departures of Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Adams. I think we all welcome the departure of Mr. Mugabe. I wish Deputy Adams well in his retirement. We will have another debate about his legacy, political leadership and so on, but I wish him well in his retirement. His family has made huge sacrifices, as do the families of all party leaders, and he had to make huge sacrifices himself. I commend him for his decision to step down and I wish him well on a personal level.
Senator Ó Clochartaigh raised the issue of housing. I agree with him. There is no excuse for local authorities to sit on land banks in any county or city. The housing need in our country has to be addressed. I will not give the Senator a whole list of figures because he will have another debate with me, but the land banks being sat on must be utilised.
With regard to the figures the Senator quoted on social housing, I want to give him one figure which I think is important. Senator Ó Clochartaigh and his colleagues in Sinn Féin sometimes put forward the narrative that no houses are being built and no money is being invested. Rebuilding Ireland has multi-annual funding for social housing and €116 million was allocated to homelessness in budget 2018. We are building 7,900 social houses, which will be built by the end of this year. That is the reality. That comprises 3,800 local authority builds, 600 private sector builds, 600 voids returned to use, 900 acquisitions and 2,000 long-term leases. That is action on housing. We all agree that it is not happening fast enough. There are people who are looking for housing today and we all want to see them housed. That is the reality.