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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 174-188
 Header Item Housing Inspections
 Header Item Rental Accommodation Standards
 Header Item Emergency Accommodation
 Header Item Rental Accommodation Standards
 Header Item Domestic Violence
 Header Item Foreign Policy
 Header Item Passport Services
 Header Item Departmental Staff

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1005 No. 6
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 78 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 174-188

Housing Inspections

 174. Deputy Sorca Clarke Information on Sorca Clarke Zoom on Sorca Clarke asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the number of requests that were made for private rented accommodation inspections to Longford County Council in 2019, 2020 and to date in 2021. [18086/21]

 175. Deputy Sorca Clarke Information on Sorca Clarke Zoom on Sorca Clarke asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the number of requests that were made for private rented accommodation inspections to Westmeath County Council in 2019, 2020 and to date in 2021. [18087/21]

 176. Deputy Sorca Clarke Information on Sorca Clarke Zoom on Sorca Clarke asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the number of inspections of private rented accommodation that were carried by Longford County Council in 2019, 2020 and to date in 2021. [18089/21]

 177. Deputy Sorca Clarke Information on Sorca Clarke Zoom on Sorca Clarke asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the number of inspections of private rented accommodation that were carried by Westmeath County Council in 2019, 2020 and to date in 2021. [18090/21]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien I propose to take Questions Nos. 174 to 177, inclusive, together.

  In relation to the number of requests made to Longford County Council and Westmeath County Council for private rented accommodation inspections in 2019, 2020 and to date in 2021, the information requested is not reported by local authorities to my Department and is not available.

  Information in relation to the number of inspections undertaken in 2020 is currently being collated by my Department and will be available on my Department's website shortly. Inspection data in respect of 2021 is not yet available.

  The number of private rental inspections undertaken by the two local authorities in 2019 is set out in the table below:

Local Authority Total Inspections Undertaken in 2019
Longford County Council 428
Westmeath County Council 723


  Annual data in respect of the level of inspections carried out by each local authority is available on my Department's website at

  https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/da3fe-private-housing-market-statistics/

Rental Accommodation Standards

 178. Deputy Sorca Clarke Information on Sorca Clarke Zoom on Sorca Clarke asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the number of complaints from tenants in private rented accommodation in County Longford that were made to the tenancy board in 2019, 2020 and to date in 2021. [18091/21]

 179. Deputy Sorca Clarke Information on Sorca Clarke Zoom on Sorca Clarke asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the number of complaints from tenants in private rented accommodation in County Westmeath that were made to the tenancy board in 2019, 2020 and to date in 2021. [18092/21]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien I propose to take Questions Nos. 178 and 179 together.

The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) was established as an independent statutory body under the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004-2021, to operate a national tenancy registration system and to facilitate the resolution of disputes between landlords and tenants.   

  The Clerk of the Dáil requested that arrangements be put in place to facilitate the provision of information by State Bodies to members of the Oireachtas. Following the issue of Circular LG (P)05/16 on 20 September 2016 from my Department, the RTB set up a dedicated email address for this purpose. The RTB may be contacted at OireachtasMembersQueries@rtb.ie to establish the extent to which it may hold the information sought.

Emergency Accommodation

 180. Deputy Sorca Clarke Information on Sorca Clarke Zoom on Sorca Clarke asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the number of emergency accommodation units suitable for families in County Longford. [18095/21]

 181. Deputy Sorca Clarke Information on Sorca Clarke Zoom on Sorca Clarke asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the number of emergency accommodation units suitable for families in County Westmeath. [18096/21]

 182. Deputy Sorca Clarke Information on Sorca Clarke Zoom on Sorca Clarke asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the number of emergency accommodation beds available for homeless men in County Longford in 2019, 2020 and to date in 2021, by local electoral area in tabular form. [18097/21]

 183. Deputy Sorca Clarke Information on Sorca Clarke Zoom on Sorca Clarke asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the number of emergency accommodation beds available for homeless men in County Westmeath in 2019, 2020 and to date in 2021, by local electoral area in tabular form. [18098/21]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien I propose to take Questions Nos. 180 to 183, inclusive, together.

  My Department's role in relation to homelessness involves the provision of a national framework of policy, legislation and funding to underpin the role of housing authorities in addressing homelessness at a local level. Statutory responsibility in relation to the provision of homeless services rests with individual housing authorities. Section 10 of the Housing Act 1988 sets out the purposes for which costs may be incurred by housing authorities in respect of the provision of homeless accommodation and related services.

  While responsibility for the provision of accommodation for homeless persons rests with individual housing authorities, the administration of homeless services is organised on a regional basis, with nine administrative regions in place. In the Midlands region, Westmeath County Council is the lead authority for the region along with Laois, Longford and Offaly County Councils. A homelessness consultative forum has been established in each region in accordance with Chapter 6 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2009. It is a matter for the management group of the consultative forum, in the first instance, to determine the services and the funding required to address homelessness in each region.   

  My Department publishes a detailed monthly report on homelessness, based on data provided by housing authorities. The Report outlines details of individuals utilising State-funded emergency accommodation arrangements that are overseen by housing authorities. Data relating to homeless adults are presented at a county level.   The most recent report, for February 2021, records that there were 10 adults utilising emergency accommodation in county Longford and 26 in Westmeath. Data on families and dependants are represented on a regional level. The February report records that there were 17 families in emergency accommodation in the Midlands Region, which combines counties Laois, Longford, Offaly and Westmeath.

  These Reports are available to access on my Department's website at the following link: https://www.gov.ie/en/collection/80ea8-homelessness-data/

Rental Accommodation Standards

 184. Deputy Sorca Clarke Information on Sorca Clarke Zoom on Sorca Clarke asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the number of prosecutions instigated against landlords regarding non-compliant housing standards in tabular form. [18099/21]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien The Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2019 specify requirements in relation to a range of matters, such as structural repair, sanitary facilities, heating, ventilation, natural light and the safety of gas, oil and electrical supply. All landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that their rented properties comply. Responsibility for enforcement of the regulations rests with the relevant local authority.

  Local authorities have a strong legislative framework available to them which provides for the issuing of Improvement Notices and Prohibition Notices where landlords are in breach of their obligations. Under Section 34 of that Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992, any person who fails to comply with an improvement notice or re-lets a house in breach of a prohibition notice, will be guilty of an offence and will be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding €5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both.   

  Data in respect of the number of Inspections of private rental properties, Improvement Letters issued, Improvement and Prohibition Notices issued, and the legal actions initiated by local authorities in the period 2005 to 2019 is available on my Department's website at the following link:

  https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/da3fe-private-housing-market-statistics/

  Information in relation to the number of inspections and enforcement actions undertaken in 2020 is currently being collated by my Department and will be available on the website shortly.

Domestic Violence

 185. Deputy Patricia Ryan Information on Patricia  Ryan Zoom on Patricia  Ryan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he has communicated with the Turkish Ambassador following the recent withdrawal of Turkey from the Istanbul Convention; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17754/21]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I issued a statement on 21 March making clear that Ireland deeply regrets the decision of the President of Turkey to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention. The Convention is essential in protecting women and girls from violence. The decision to withdraw is a serious backwards step for the protection of women’s rights in Turkey, and it sends a disturbing message across Europe and beyond.

  The decision is particularly incomprehensible as it comes on the eve of the tenth birthday of the Convention, and at a time of a pandemic when gender-based violence has spiked all over the world.

  Ireland, and other like-minded States, as well as High Representative Borrell on behalf of the EU, have made clear our deep disappointment at the decision of the Turkish Government and have strongly urged them to reverse this decision.

  This move is unfortunately one of a number of recent backward steps by Turkey on the rule of law and human rights. The recent move to ban the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), and to therefore potentially deny representation to millions of Turkish voters, is another troubling step, as are the recent actions against students and LGBT groups.

  These actions run counter to Turkey’s stated commitment of pursuing a closer relationship with the EU. The EU is built on adherence to fundamental values, including defence of human rights, freedom of expression, and strict respect for the rule of law. For any meaningful progress on Turkey’s relationship with the EU to occur, Turkey will need to begin to address its internal human rights situation through a series of positive concrete actions, rather than plans and strategies.

Foreign Policy

 186. Deputy Neale Richmond Information on Neale Richmond Zoom on Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his views on the treatment of Christians, Baha’i and other religious minorities in Iran and in particular the recent summons to prison in Tehran of Christians for the crime of belonging to a house church; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17832/21]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The human rights situation in Iran has long formed an important part of Ireland's engagement and dialogue with Iran.

  Reports on the treatment of Christians, Baha’i, and other religious minorities in Iran are deeply concerning. It is unacceptable to discriminate against individuals on the basis of their religion.

  Ireland has consistently raised concerns around the treatment of religious minorities in Iran in appropriate international fora. At the most recent session of the UN General Assembly, Ireland supported a Resolution which raised concerns over "increasing restrictions on the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief" in Iran, including for Christians, Baha'i and other religious minorities. The Resolution called on Iran "to eliminate, in law and in practice, all forms of discrimination on the basis of thought, conscience, religion or belief."

  Ireland has also raised concerns about discrimination against religious minorities on a bilateral basis with Iran, as well as a Member of the EU.

  Ireland, along with the EU, will continue to encourage progress in relation to religious minorities in Iran, and to make clear our concerns to the Iranian authorities. During my visit to Iran on 7 March, I raised concerns over the human rights situation in Iran with Foreign Minister Zarif, and agreed on the need for increased dialogue on human rights issues.

Passport Services

 187. Deputy Paul Kehoe Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when he expects the passport service to resume; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17901/21]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney In line with Government guidance that, at Level 5 of the National Framework on Living with COVID-19 only essential work should take place, the Passport Service continues to provide a high-quality essential service in line with Government measures to reduce social contact and combat the spread of COVID-19.

  This essential service is available for those who are required to travel due to the death or serious illness of a family member or meet the criteria for a reasonable excuse for non-essential travel as defined in the recent amendment to the Health Act 1947, which came into effect on 1 February 2021. Supporting documentation will be required in such cases.

  Applicants who require a passport for emergency purposes, or for non-essential travel with a reasonable excuse, should contact the Passport Service via our Customer Service Hub Webchat function on our website.

  Irish citizens who are resident overseas should make contact through the local Irish Embassy or Consulate General.

  While normal processing of passports has been paused, the staff of the Passport Service continue to produce emergency and urgent applications, to offer customer service through WebChat, to assist with consular assistance for Irish citizens overseas and temporary reassignment of staff to the Department of Health. The Passport Service has issued approximately 2,000 urgent applications, approximately 170 emergency applications and approximately 20,000 simple adult renewals since the beginning of the year. Our Webchat team have answered more 30,000 queries.

  The Passport Service has continued to make excellent progress with the Passport Reform Programme. This will deliver a modern passport processing system to replace the current software designed nearly 20 years ago.

  The Passport Service has a comprehensive plan in place to resume all services, in line with the National Framework for Living with COVID-19. When operations resume at Level 4, all applications received via Passport Online will be processed. The Passport Service is confident, taking into account measures to ensure a safe workplace, that any Passport Online backlog can be cleared in six to eight weeks.

  The Passport Service plans to resume processing of routine paper based applications such as Passport Express, Northern Ireland Passport Express and applications for Foreign Birth Registrations at Level 3 of the framework.

Departmental Staff

 188. Deputy Claire Kerrane Information on Claire Kerrane Zoom on Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will provide a breakdown of the higher executive officers, administration officers, assistant principal officers, principal officers and assistant secretaries in his Department by gender in tabular form. [17910/21]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney In the Department of Foreign Affairs, there are three distinct streams at Headquarters - Diplomatic, General Service and Specialist. For sake of completeness, the figures listed below include equivalent grades to those referenced in the Deputy's question.

Grade Group Female Male Total
ASEC & equivalent 6 15 21
PO & equivalent 50 80 130
AP & equivalent 150 161 311
AO & equivalent 94 75 169
HEO & equivalent 68 50 118
Total 368 381 749


Last Updated: 19/04/2021 16:08:25 First Page Previous Page Page of 78 Next Page Last Page