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 Header Item Defence Forces Properties (Continued)
 Header Item Other Questions
 Header Item Defence Forces Fatalities

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 835 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly] Will the Minister consider, in the context of the meeting we had, the possibility of his officials meeting with representatives of those families? We do not condone those people who are paying nothing while living there and we have made that quite clear. We ask that officials would meet those who are not in that category to try to reach an amicable solution. Would the Minister be willing to make the technical assessment of the properties available to Deputies?

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter As I have said previously to the Deputy, having dealt with the overall issue in my initial reply, it is my Department's policy to review each over-holder situation on a case by case basis. Obviously, as each case is different, I cannot pre-empt considerations that may be given. As the Deputy knows, where people are very elderly and do not have alternative accommodation, the Department has exercised discretion in how it deals with those aspects of the matter. However, the Department cannot, nor can I as Minister, stand over a situation whereby properties are occupied by individuals who make no payment of any description to the Department. My Department will continue to engage proactively, consider individual circumstances on a case by case basis and behave appropriately. I cannot go any further than that.

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly It is a pity that the Minister cannot put it more concretely than that because, while the Department has said that it is examining the cases individually, the reality is that people do not know to which category they belong. They do not know when the postman is going to knock with a letter from the courts. They are thinking, "it might be me, even if I am 70 years of age". Obviously, there is some reassurance in the fact that it has not happened yet but they do not know that it is not going to happen. I ask that there would be a positive engagement, accepting fully that nobody in this House or to whom we have spoken in the Curragh condones people not paying rent or making a contribution in accordance with their means. That is not what this is about. It is about the very real circumstances of people who have tried, have played by the rules and who have nowhere else to go. The Department must actively engage with them, all the while recognising that individuals are different and need to be treated differently. If there is a will to take up that offer of constructive engagement, will the Minister make his officials available to meet representatives of the group of residents to try to progress the matter?

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter It has been the practice to meet, where appropriate, the individuals occupying the houses as opposed to some nominated representatives. I must emphasise what I said earlier, namely, that individual circumstances will be carefully examined. The Deputy is as aware as I am that there are some individuals occupying these houses who have been there for many years and who are quite clearly - to use the phrase, although I do not like it either - over-holders. In so far as there are very elderly people who may be living in a general state of stress and uncertainty, I have no difficulty discussing that further with my officials. I am aware of the fact that both Deputies Daly and Wallace raised that issue in the conversations they had with officials. The Deputies can be assured that issues of that nature are not being ignored. However, I must also be careful to ensure that people who occupy premises in the Curragh meet their rental obligations and that, in circumstances where there are legal obligations to vacate, nothing is done to prejudice the position of the State and the State's right to have those properties returned to it. Of course, there are also some security issues that can arise. As I understand it, there are also some particular issues with regard to the condition of some of the properties which are a cause of great concern.

Other Questions

Defence Forces Fatalities

 130. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will meet the family of a person (details supplied). [12876/14]

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn We have discussed this matter previously, which concerns the circumstances that led to the killing of Private Hugh Doherty and Private Kevin Joyce. Their families have requested a meeting with the Minister and I seek an update in that regard.

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