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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 31 - 37
 Header Item Water and Sewerage Scheme Grants
 Header Item Priory Hall Development
 Header Item Wind Energy Guidelines
 Header Item Local Government Reform
 Header Item Housing Issues
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing Provision
 Header Item Pyrite Remediation Programme Issues

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 806 No. 2

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Written Answers Nos. 31 - 37

Water and Sewerage Scheme Grants

 31. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan his plans to enhance the group sewerage scheme grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27972/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I refer to the reply to Question No. 642 of 11 June 2013, which outlines the position on this matter.

Priory Hall Development

 32. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the date on which Mr. Justice Finnegan will furnish his report to him on all outstanding issues connected with Priory Hall, Dublin; and if he will confirm that his Department will continue to provide all available assistance to displaced former residents of Priory Hall.  [27067/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The resolution process in respect of the problems associated with the development at Priory Hall, which I understand is on-going, arose in the context of legal proceedings which were adjourned to afford relevant parties the opportunity to work together, under the chairmanship of Mr. Justice Finnegan (retired President of the High Court), to identify a way forward in relation to the complex problems at Priory Hall. Neither I nor my Department is a party to those proceedings. Given that the matter is before the courts, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further other than to continue to urge all concerned to afford Mr. Justice Finnegan the opportunity to complete the task which he is undertaking.

I am supportive of the Priory Hall residents and my Department is supporting the efforts of Dublin City Council on their behalf, and has previously assisted the Council, in consultation with NAMA, in securing alternative temporary accommodation for many of the residents. My Department has to date contributed in excess of €670,000 towards the costs necessarily incurred by Dublin City Council, in the context of a judgment of the High Court, in providing temporary accommodation for households evacuated from Priory Hall. Dublin City Council is the designated authority with powers to enforce the statutory requirements arising under the Fire Safety Act, the Building Control Acts and the Planning and Development Acts, all of which are at issue in relation to Priory Hall. The Council is also the designated Housing Authority under the Housing Acts. I am aware of the significant efforts that have been made by the Council, with the assistance of my Department, to provide for the needs of residents to date and I understand that the Council will continue to work proactively on behalf of the residents towards achieving the much needed resolution of the issues at Priory Hall.

Wind Energy Guidelines

 33. Deputy John Halligan Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will set out in detail the process through which a company such as a particular company (details supplied) would establish an offshore wind farm in the foreshore, as is currently proposed for the Kish Bank, including when the licence was granted and the nature of the public consultation process surrounding the granting; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [28074/13]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan I refer to the reply to Questions Nos. 567 and 568 of 11 June 2013.

Local Government Reform

 34. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if a decision has been made on the powers that will be transferred from city and county managers to elected councillors; and when the relevant legislation will be drafted.  [28069/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The Action Programme for Effective Local Government - Putting People First, sets out Government decisions for a range of local government reform measures, including matters covered in Chapter 11 to reinforce the primacy of the elected council within the local government system and to rebalance the role of the council in relation to the present position of county manager. These include stronger and more explicit statutory expression in relation to the powers of elected members and the duty of the manager/chief executive to comply with policy as set down by the elected council, together with measures to strengthen the capacity generally of the elected council to oversee the business of the authority. The relationship between manager and members will also be changed to that of chief executive and “board of directors”, appropriate to a modern system of administration, which better reflects the fact that the primary function of the manager/chief executive is to implement policy determined by the elected council.

  Some important new reserved functions are also being created, for example, the adoption of economic development plans, local and community development plans, and service plans. In addition, the scope for further extension of the reserved functions of elected members will be pursued in the implementation of the reform programme and their functions will also be strengthened in the context of the new system of municipal districts.

  Details in relation to these measures will be set out in the legislation which is required to provide for the wide range of measures in the Action Programme for Effective Local Government. Work on drafting the Local Government Bill 2013 is proceeding satisfactorily and I am firmly committed to ensuring that the Bill will be published in good time to enable enactment well ahead of the 2014 local elections.

Housing Issues

 35. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will set out the objectives with specific targets in respect of the implementation of a comprehensive capital housing programme with particular reference to the need to meet the requirements of the more than 100,000 families currently on local authority waiting lists and the need to provide family type accommodation, a dearth of which is obvious at present; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27981/13]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan The Government’s housing policy statement, published in June 2011, clearly identifies that the priority for Government will be to meet the most acute needs of households applying for social housing support. I am determined to ensure that the social housing programme optimises the delivery of social housing and the return for the resources invested. To achieve this, it is essential that we tailor the use of available Exchequer supports to prevailing conditions and explore the full range of solutions to address housing needs. In terms of addressing the demand for social housing, the social housing capital budget has been reduced from €1.535 billion in 2008 to €287m in 2013 and the financial parameters within which we will be operating for the coming years rule out a return to large capital funded construction programmes. The Government is committed to responding more quickly and on a larger scale to social housing support needs through a variety of mechanisms, including through increased provision of social housing. In July 2012 I announced details of a three-year funding programme of €100 million to deliver some 800 new units of voluntary and local authority owned social housing. I am monitoring expenditure under my Department’s housing programme for 2013, together with the level of contractual commitments extending into 2014, with a view to a decision later this year on approving some limited new construction and house purchases over the period to end 2014.

Delivery of social housing will be significantly facilitated through more flexible funding models such as the Rental Accommodation Scheme and leasing but the Government is also committed to developing other funding mechanisms that will increase the supply of permanent new social housing. Such mechanisms will include options to purchase, build to lease and the sourcing of loan finance by approved housing bodies for construction and acquisition. There is also obvious potential, across a range of housing programmes, for the Government’s objective of sourcing and providing suitable residential units for use as social housing to be aligned with the commercial objectives of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA). My Department and the Housing Agency are engaged with NAMA to ensure delivery of housing units for social purposes.

In spite of the challenging circumstances within which local authorities must operate the final outcome for 2012 is expected to be in the region of 5,000 housing units. Given the current volatility of the market and different challenges to the channels of supply it is difficult to estimate the likely output of new units for social housing this year. However, it is provisionally estimated that in the region of 5,000 units will be provided for social housing in 2013.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

 36. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the new initiatives taken by him to tackle the problems in areas of high deprivation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28050/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan While a number of Government Departments have initiatives to tackle problems in areas of high deprivation, my Department focuses in particular on community and housing issues. My Department’s Community Division has two key objectives: to facilitate integrated development at local level and foster vibrant, sustainable and inclusive communities; and to support the Community and Voluntary Sector in its contribution to an active, democratic and pluralist society.

  In this regard, my Department is responsible for a range of programmes and initiatives to support communities experiencing high deprivation. These include the Local and Community Development Programme, the LEADER elements of the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013, the Seniors Alert Scheme, the RAPID (Revitalising Areas by Planning, Investment and Development) Programme, the Scheme to Support National Organisations in the Community and Voluntary Sector, as well as other supports for volunteering, the Forum on Philanthropy and Fundraising and the EU co-funded Peace IIII and Interreg IVA programmes. Many of these programmes and schemes prioritise disadvantaged communities, focusing on those most in need.

  My Department’s housing capital programme also places a very high priority on continued support for urban regeneration, including the very large schemes typified by those in Dublin and Limerick but also through a programme of works in individual estates around the country. The regeneration programme places a central importance on social and economic regeneration to accompany the rebuilding of the physical fabric of disadvantaged communities.

  One of my main priorities has been fundamentally to review and re-shape local government, and that focus has led to the publication in October 2012 of Putting People First and the report on the alignment of Local Government and Local Development. In the changing landscape for the community and local government sectors, and having regard to my Department’s response to differing priorities, my primary concern is to ensure that front-line services, particularly those focused on the needs of the most socially deprived communities, are protected to the greatest extent possible.

Pyrite Remediation Programme Issues

 37. Deputy Michael Colreavy Information on Michael Colreavy Zoom on Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan his plans to deal with local authority built housing which is affected by pyrite such as some homes in Griffith Heights, Dublin 11 which are not covered by the Pyrite Report. [27063/13]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan My Department is currently supporting pyrite remediation works at a number of locations in the Dublin City and Fingal areas. Local authorities are responsible for addressing pyrite issues relating to their properties and submit proposals to my Department where remediation works are required, including works relating to pyrite heave.

I understand that properties owned by Dublin City Council at Griffith Heights are not affected by pyrite heave and there are no proposals with my Department in this regard.


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