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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 346-359
 Header Item Quarrying Sector
 Header Item Legislative Reviews
 Header Item State Bodies Data
 Header Item Water Meters
 Header Item Housing Issues
 Header Item Housing Issues
 Header Item Traveller Accommodation
 Header Item Rent Pressure Zones
 Header Item Homeless Accommodation Funding
 Header Item Homeless Persons Data
 Header Item Local Authority Housing Funding
 Header Item State Bodies Data
 Header Item Wildlife Conservation
 Header Item Hedge Cutting Season

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 981 No. 5

First Page Previous Page Page of 66 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 346-359

Quarrying Sector

 346. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the maximum depth allowable for excavation of a quarry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15983/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy My Department issued Guidelines to Planning Authorities on Quarrying and Ancillary Activities in April 2004, offering guidance on planning for the quarrying industry, both in the adoption of development plans and in determining individual applications for planning permission for quarrying and ancillary activities.  The Guidelines recommend that applications for planning permission for quarries should be accompanied by, amongst other things, information on the proposed maximum extent and depth of excavation and extraction.

Under the guidelines, there is no maximum depth suggested in relation to the excavation of quarries. Decisions on whether to grant planning permission for a quarry is a matter for the relevant planning authority or An Bord Pleanála, as the case may be, having regard to the particular local circumstances of the proposed development and potential impacts on the local environment, landscape, water sources, nature etc.  When granting planning permission for a quarry, it is open to the local planning authority or An Bord Pleanála to attach appropriate conditions to such permissions on a case by case basis. Such conditions may relate to the implementation of environmental mitigation measures; times of operation; control of noise, blasting, dust, water pollution and waste; environmental monitoring; special contributions; extraction limits and site restoration.  

In this connection, it should be noted that a person is not entitled solely by reasons of a planning permission to carry out development and that other specific requirements relating to the quarrying sector may apply, such as under the Health and Safety code - e.g. Guidance from the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Quarries) Regulations 2008 (S.I. No. 28 of 2008) - which falls under the remit of my colleague, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

Legislative Reviews

 347. Deputy Eamon Scanlon Information on Eamon Scanlon Zoom on Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the status of the legislative review process regarding the holding of plebiscites by certain local authorities; when the associated regulations will be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas for consideration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15687/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy John Paul Phelan): Information on John Paul Phelan Zoom on John Paul Phelan The Local Government Act 2019 was enacted in January 2019. The Regulations to prescribe how plebiscites on place-names are to be conducted by a local authority or municipal district are at an advanced stage of preparation.

State Bodies Data

 348. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the number and percentage of women on each State board under the remit of his Department on 8 March 2016 and 8 March 2019, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15711/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy The following table outlines the number and percentage of women on each State board, under the remit of my Department, as of 8 March 2016 and again at 8 March 2019. The table identifies boards that were not established or not under the remit of my Department on 08/03/2016 and those that were no longer under its remit on 8 March 2019.

  The Government  is committed to meeting the 40% gender balance target on all its State Boards. In March 2019, the Government approved the Report of the Inter-Departmental Group (IDG) on Gender Balance on State Boards. My Department was represented on the IDG. The Department of Justice and Equality is now developing an implementation plan for the Report and will liaise bi-laterally with my Department in this regard.

Board  Number of Women 08/03/2016  Number of Women 08/03/2019 Percentage of Women on board 08/03/2016 Percentage of Women on board 

08/03/2019
An Bord Pleanala (1) 2 3 22% 30%
Environmental Protection Agency  2 * 33% *
Ervia (2) 2 2 29% 18%
Gas Networks Ireland (2) 0 0 0% 0%
Housing Finance Agency  4 6 40% 50%
Housing and Sustainable Communities Agency  2 2 25% 25%
Irish Water (2) 0 0 0% 0%
Irish Water Safety  2 * 18% *
Local Government Management Agency (3) 1 1 9% 11%
National Oversight and Audit Commission 4 5 36% 50%
National Traveller Accomodation Consultative Committee 3 3 30% 30%
Pobal  5 * 38% *
Residential Tenancies Board 4 4 33% 44%
Pyrite Resolution Board  1 1 25% 20%
Western Development Commission 3 * 38% *
Land Development Agency  ** 3 ** 33%
Ordnance Survey Ireland  ** 2 ** 22%
Property Registration Authority  ** 4 ** 44%
Valuation Tribunal  ** 14 ** 44%
Water Advisory Board  ** 2 ** 40%


  * This board was no longer under the remit of the Department on 08/03/2019

  ** This board was either not established or not under the remit of the Department on 08/03/2016

  (1) Appointments to An Bord Pleanála are of a full-time executive nature and are governed by statutory competitive or nomination processes. 

  (2) “A “unitary board structure” is in place for Ervia and its subsidiaries, Irish Water and Gas Networks Ireland.  An overarching non-executive board at Ervia level has overall responsibility and accountability for the performance of the Ervia Group, including Irish Water and Gas Networks Ireland. The boards of the two principal Ervia subsidiaries, Irish Water and Gas Networks Ireland, are executive-only boards comprising the holders of certain executive positions.

  (3) The board of the Local Government Management Agency comprises eight Chief Executives of Local Authorities elected to the Board by the sector; the balance of members are nominees of the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government.

Water Meters

 349. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding a meter swap out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15720/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy Since 1 January 2014, Irish Water has statutory responsibility for all aspects of water services planning, delivery and operation at national, regional and local levels.  Water metering is an operational issue for Irish Water and I have no function in relation to the matter.

Irish Water has established a dedicated team to deal with representations and queries from public representatives.  The team can be contacted via email to oireachtasmembers@water.ie or by telephone on a dedicated number, 1890 578 578.

Housing Issues

 350. Deputy Darragh O'Brien Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the reason Ireland has not signed up to Article 31 of the European Social Charter; the work being undertaken to ensure that ratification of this article is being progressed; and when Ireland will be in a position to ratify the article. [15739/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy Ireland ratified the Revised European Social Charter on 4 November 2000. At that time Ireland accepted 92 of the 98 paragraphs of the Revised Charter. Three of those paragraphs not accepted by Ireland make up Article 31, which relates to the right to housing.

The issue of the right to housing was debated in Dáil Eireann and Seanad Éireann in September 2017.  Arising from this, a motion to refer the Eighth Report of the Convention on the Constitution, which dealt with economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to housing, to the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach was passed by the Dáil on 28 September 2017 and by the Seanad on 11 October 2017.

The matter of ratifying Article 31 of the Revised European Social Charter will be considered further after the Joint Committee has considered the matter.

Housing Issues

 351. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy if his attention has been drawn to the recent report of the UN special rapporteur (details supplied) on the right to adequate housing; his views on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15769/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I assume the Deputy is referring to the Joint Communication from the Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council dated 22 March 2019, which has been received by my Department.

  A response to this communication is currently being prepared in my Department in coordination with the Department of Finance and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Traveller Accommodation

 352. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy  the funding provided for the Traveller accommodation programme to Tipperary County Council in each of the years 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15770/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Damien English): Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English In accordance with the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act 1998, housing 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 that there are adequate structures and supports in place to assist the authorities in providing such accommodation, including a national framework of policy, legislation and funding. 

  The allocations and recoupment profiles for capital Traveller accommodation projects can vary across local authorities given the local priorities, circumstances and project timelines as set out in the TAPs.  Local authorities adopted the fourth and current round of TAPs in April 2014, with the five-year rolling programmes running from 2014 to 2018.  These programmes provide a road map for local authority investment priorities over the period.  They also form the basis for the allocation of funding from my Department for Traveller accommodation.  Preparations are underway for the fifth TAP programme, 2019-2024.

  The following table sets out allocations and drawdowns for Tipperary County Council for each of the years 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019 (note that the period 2011 to 2014 includes the combined allocations and drawdown for North Tipperary and South Tipperary).

  Allocation Drawdown
2011* €750,000 €619,946
2012* €167,149 €236,947
2013* €126,600 €245,621
2014 €353,656 €291,874
2015 €800,000 €23,142
2016 €900,000 €1,399,370
2017 €327,492 €399,337
2018 €25,655 €42,002
2019 €25,655 Nil to date

Rent Pressure Zones

 353. Deputy Darragh O'Brien Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy his plans to extend the rent pressure zone designation periods beyond three years in Dublin and Cork from December 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15800/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy On 2 April 2019, Government approved Committee Stage amendments to the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No 2) Bill 2018,  which will, among other measures, see the designation of Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs) extended to the end of 2021.

  This Bill is scheduled for Dáil Committee Stage on 11 April 2019 and I will be working to have it complete its passage through both Houses as quickly as possible thereafter.

Homeless Accommodation Funding

 354. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy his plans to publish the annual breakdown of expenditure on homeless services for 2018; and the reason for the delay in the publication of this report. [15802/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy My Department does not provide funding for services directly but provides funding to housing authorities towards operational costs for homeless accommodation and related services.  Under funding arrangements, housing authorities must provide at least 10% of the cost of services from their own resources.  Housing authorities may also incur additional expenditure on homeless related services outside of the funding arrangement with my Department. 

  Exchequer funding for homeless services is provided through my Department to housing authorities on a regional basis.  The following table summarises Exchequer funding recouped to housing authorities in 2018.

  Exchequer funding for homeless services in 2018 under the Housing Act, 1988   

Region Amount
Dublin €106,267,187
Mid-East €3,738,000
Midlands €2,177,128
Mid-West €5,044,000
North-East  €3,007,520
North-West €541,522
South-East   €3,815,000
South-West €9,687,741
West €4,721,895


  Financial reports setting out expenditure on homeless services on a regional basis are published on my Department's website at the following link; https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/homelessness/other/homelessness-data.  Detailed financial reports for each of the regions for 2018 are being collated and will be published on my Department's website shortly.

Homeless Persons Data

 355. Deputy Ruth Coppinger Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the number of homeless children here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14604/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy My Department publishes a monthly report on homelessness. The monthly report is based on data provided by housing authorities and produced through the Pathway Accommodation & Support System (PASS).  The report captures details of individuals utilising State-funded emergency accommodation arrangements that are overseen by housing authorities.

  The most recent report is for February 2019 and showed that there were 1,707 families in emergency accommodation in that month, with a total of 3,784 dependants associated with those families. The February 2019 monthly report is available on my Department’s website at the following link: https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/homelessness/homeless-report-february-2019.

Local Authority Housing Funding

 356. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy if funding is available to local authorities in respect of extensions to local authority houses based on medical circumstances and overcrowding; if so, the percentage at which the funding is provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15864/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy My Department provides funding under the Disabled Persons Grants (DPG) scheme to local authorities for adaptations and extensions to their existing social housing stock to meet the needs of local authority tenants. The scheme applies to adaptations that are necessary to address the needs of older people or people with a disability who may require stair-lifts, grab-rails, showers, wet-rooms, ramps, etc. It also provides the funding of extensions such as the installation of a downstairs bedroom or bathroom or in the case of overcrowding.

My Department provides 90% funding towards the cost of the eligible works per property with the remaining 10% being provided by the local authorities. The local authority can carry out works up to a maximum level of €75,000 per property without the prior approval of the Department. Applications in excess of this can be submitted to the Department and will be considered for funding on a case by case basis.

My Department is currently finalising the funding requirements for all local authorities under the scheme in 2019; in the meantime they have been advised to continue with the programme pending their 2019 allocation. It is a matter for all local authorities to prioritise the works required under this scheme and to assess individual applications in that context.

State Bodies Data

 357. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Josepha Madigan Zoom on Josepha Madigan the number and percentage of women on each State board under the remit of her Department on 8 March 2016 and 8 March 2019, respectively; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15704/19]

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Josepha Madigan): Information on Josepha Madigan Zoom on Josepha Madigan I am committed to achieving the target, set out in the Government’s Guidelines on Appointments to State Boards, of at least 40% representation of each gender on Boards. The gender balance on each of the State boards under my remit as of 8 March 2016 and 8 March 2019, respectively, is outlined in the table below.

I am pleased to confirm that an additional three of the State boards have exceeded the gender ratio target in respect of female participation since 8 March 2016. As such, 12 of the 14 State boards under my remit now exceed the gender ratio target in respect of female participation. 

Overall, as of 8 March 2019, the gender balance on the State boards under my remit stands at 50% male and 50% female. Vacancies on the Board of the Arts Council, the Crawford Art Gallery and the National Museum of Ireland are currently at various points of the appointment process. I will continue to actively seek to meet the target of at least 40% representation of each gender on the State boards under my remit.

Table

  Gender Balance on 08 March 2016        
State Agency Female Male Total Female % Male %
Arts Council 3 5 8 38% 63%
Chester Beatty Library2 4 7 11 36% 64%
Crawford Art Gallery 3 2 5 60% 40%
Foras na Gaeilge1 3 8 11 27% 73%
Heritage Council 6 6 12 50% 50%
IMMA 6 6 12 50% 50%
Irish Manuscripts Commission 7 13 20 35% 65%
Screen Ireland 3 3 6 50% 50%
National Archives Advisory Council 4 2 6 67% 33%
National Concert Hall - 4 5 9 44% 56%
National Gallery of Ireland 7 4 11 64% 36%
National Library of Ireland 6 6 12 50% 50%
National Museum of Ireland 10 6 16 63% 38%
Údarás na Gaeltachta 4 8 12 33% 67%
Ulster Scots Agency1 3 5 8 38% 63%
Total 73 86 159 46% 54%

Table continued

  Gender Balance on 08 March 2019        
State Agency Female Male Total Female % Male %
Arts Council 4 5 9 44% 56%
Chester Beatty Library2          
Crawford Art Gallery 7 3 10 70% 30%
Foras na Gaeilge1 6 7 13 46% 54%
Heritage Council 6 5 11 55% 45%
IMMA 6 6 12 50% 50%
Irish Manuscripts Commission 9 11 20 45% 55%
Screen Ireland 5 2 7 71% 29%
National Archives Advisory Council 5 7 12 42% 58%
National Concert Hall - 4 5 9 44% 56%
National Gallery of Ireland 10 7 17 59% 41%
National Library of Ireland 6 6 12 50% 50%
National Museum of Ireland 9 6 15 60% 40%
Údarás na Gaeltachta 4 8 12 33% 67%
Ulster Scots Agency1 3 5 8 38% 63%
Total 84 83 167 50% 50%


1. Appointments to North South Bodies are made by the North South Ministerial Council, arising from nominations on a 50:50 basis from each jurisdiction.

2. Following a review on the position of the Chester Beatty Library in 2017, on balance, it was considered that the Chester Beatty Library should not be deemed a State Board.

Wildlife Conservation

 358. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Josepha Madigan Zoom on Josepha Madigan the status of the report by Ireland on the conservation status of listed species as required by EU Directive 92/43/EEC due in 2019; if work on this report has commenced; when it will be available; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15756/19]

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Josepha Madigan): Information on Josepha Madigan Zoom on Josepha Madigan Under Article 17 of the EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC), each member state is obliged to report on the conservation status of habitats and species, listed in the Annexes to the Directive, every six years. The deadline for submission of  assessments for the current reporting period (2013 to 2018) is 30 April 2019.

  My Department has carried out substantial work on this report, with the aim of submission to the European Commission by the deadline. The report will be considered by the Commission and, based on previous experience, may be referred back to the Department with queries, which will then be answered as soon as possible.

  A final version of individual scientific assessments for the habitats and species will be uploaded to the website of my Department's National Parks and Wildlife Service (www.npws.ie) in due course. These assessments will run to over 2000 pages. It is planned to publish an overview summary document in more readable form before the end of 2019.

Hedge Cutting Season

 359. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Josepha Madigan Zoom on Josepha Madigan if the burning season will be extended (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15819/19]

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Josepha Madigan): Information on Josepha Madigan Zoom on Josepha Madigan Section 40 of the Wildlife Acts 1976, as amended, prohibits the cutting, grubbing, burning or destruction of vegetation, with certain strict exemptions, from 1 March to 31 August.

Following a review of Section 40, which included consideration of submissions from interested parties, proposals were announced in December 2015 to introduce legislation to allow for managed hedge cutting and burning at certain times within the existing closed period on a pilot two year basis.  The relevant legislation was included in the Heritage Bill 2016, which was enacted in July last year.

Section 7(1) of the Heritage Act 2018 provides that I may make Regulations to allow the burning of vegetation during such periods in the month of March and in such parts of the country as specified in the Regulations.  

I recently made a decision not to make Regulations to extend the season for the burning of vegetation into March.  This decision was taken as there would have been no basis for me to do so given the fact that the relatively dry weather during the six month period when the burning of vegetation could have been undertaken under the law (September to February inclusive) would not have precluded landowners from burning vegetation.  Therefore, the existing provisions in the Wildlife Acts on burning remain in force.

I therefore cannot agree that my decision not to extend burning into March has any relevance to fires in the countryside outside the closed period. The burning which the Deputy refers to in his question which occurred last weekend in Killarney National Park took place a month after the burning season had ended and was illegal and it caused significant damage to Park. I absolutely reject the Deputy’s assertion that this burning was somehow linked to my sensible, correct and responsible decision not to extend that burning season.


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