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Dáil Speech on Social Housing Policy – 30th September 2015

Deputy Anthony Lawlor:  The Acting Chairman is aware of the situation we have in Kildare. The Opposition spoke about finding quick-fix solutions to this problem but there are none. This has been a long-term problem, which started back in 2000 when Fianna Fáil introduced the provision of 20% social and affordable housing in the Planning and Development Act. No houses were delivered under that provision because of High Court cases taken by Fianna Fáil’s friends, the builders and developers. Since the crash, no houses have been delivered under the 20% rule. It is amusing then to hear tonight that Fianna Fáil is looking to bring the provision back, so as to assist its builder and developer friends. Last Friday in Kildare, it was amusing to see among the crowd at a function for a Fianna Fáil councillor, a large contingent of builders. They felt they were back in town again because Fianna Fáil feels it is coming back into power. I can tell Deputy Barry Cowen that there is no way I will let the 20% social and affordable housing rule ruin the social housing structure and fabric again.

We, therefore, have a situation in Kildare where not one house is currently being built by the local authority even though the money is available. The authority is not ready because it expected the 20% provision for social and affordable housing to be delivered, but this has not happened. That is the reason I was delighted the Minister of State, Deputy Coffey, reduced the requirement to 10%.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Some 10% of nothing is the same as 20% of nothing.

Deputy Anthony Lawlor:  The local authorities—–

Deputy Dessie Ellis: Thanks for giving away 10%.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Bernard J. Durkan): One speaker, please.

Deputy Barry Cowen:  Some 10% of nothing is the same as 20% of nothing.

Deputy Dessie Ellis:  It is a joke.

Deputy Anthony Lawlor: Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor I would have advocated for 0% but I accept the fact we had to do something. I applaud the fact the Minister of State allowed local authorities to purchase, long-term lease or build houses. The sad fact is that in Kildare no social housing is being built at the moment; it is being purchased. When local authorities are purchasing houses, it makes it difficult for people with families and first-time buyers to buy them. They are in competition with the local authority. I plead with the Minister of State to write to the local authorities and get them to put Part 8 schemes in place on whatever lands they have as quickly as possible so that social housing is on stream.

I also find it extremely difficult to understand the turnaround of houses which have been left vacant. The Acting Chairman, Deputy Durkan, will know the housing estate in Derrinturn where there has been three boarded-up houses for the past six months. The local authorities have not moved quick enough. It takes only four weeks to turn around a house in a situation such as that one.

Deputy Jonathan O’Brien:  That is if the staff is there.

Deputy Anthony Lawlor: Will the Minister of State write to the local authorities to find out exactly how many vacant properties they have and how quick is their turnaround? Something such as that would help those on housing lists and waiting for accommodation, particularly families in overcrowded situations, gain access to appropriate housing. I ask the Minister of State to take on board those matters regarding local authorities. Government has stepped up to the mark and provided funding. We now need to get the local authorities to step up to the mark as well.