New figures released under a Freedom of Information request show that there are just 10 planners and one economist to set population targets for over 1 million people across every town and village in the entire country.
The data obtained by Fianna Fáil’s Housing Spokesperson Darragh O’Brien has revealed there are just nine planners working on critical regional planning guidelines across the country.
The Regional plans set out population targets for each town and village across the country. They are responsible for implementing the aims and objectives of the National Planning Framework.
Deputy O’Brien said, “The FOI data I have complied shows that there are three planners in two of the regional assemblies and 4 in the other.
“The 3 assemblies also share one economist. The assemblies are not directly elected and were originally established by Fine Gael in 2014. The plans will be setting out where exactly the anticipated one million extra people in Ireland will live and work by 2040.They set out population targets for each area in the country.
“The FOI figures reveal the complete lack of substance behind the spin. Project 2040 was dominated by the Government’s €5m spin unit declaring it was the cornerstone of our future development. However, the fact that the regional assemblies are so under resourced completely undermines this.
“An unelected assembly with little resources will now set out how much any town or village in the country can grow by. These plans are an essential piece of the puzzle but have been completely ignored by the Government. Instead they launched a document last February to great fanfare without little to back it up.
“I have raised this directly with Minister Murphy but he continues to insist that there are no resource issues. However, given the fact that just 3 planners are setting out the future of the Eastern region and its 2 million people for the next two decades is clearly nonsense.
“I am seriously concerned these plans will undermine the lofty goals set under the National Planning framework and lead to serious planning problems in the future. It’s time for a review of the resources and democratic mandate of the assemblies in light of this new information,” concluded Deputy O’Brien.
Local Fianna Fáil TD, Darragh O’Brien says that the current lack of sufficient capacity in over-subscribed primary schools in North County Dublin can only be expected to worsen in light of the Government’s inaction.
In information received by the Deputy through a tabled Parliamentary Question, the Minister for Education has confirmed that there are no plans to address the severe shortage of school places in parts of Fingal. The issue is particularly acute in Kinsealy, Malahide and Portmarnock.
O’Brien said, “The Government has been far too slow in dealing with this crisis to date. I have been raising this escalating problem for years and it is crippling the effective provision of education in our area.
“There has never been a greater need to develop more school accommodation in our county, especially as the population is steadily rising and has been for quite some time. I’ve consistently brought this to the Minister’s attention in a bid to kickstart forward planning.
“Now that the Government have confirmed to me they will make no effort whatsoever to address the shortages of school places, the chronic situation is set to continue as we approach the forthcoming school year.
“It is incredibly frustrating that the Minister and his Department are wholly unwilling to acknowledge the shortage of school places for children across Fingal and continue to ignore the educational needs of children in Kinsealy, Malahide and Portmarnock.
“This is a problem that won’t go away. In fact it’s going to continue to get worse. I believe it’s my responsibility as a local elected representative to press for action until such a time that parents no longer face the pressure of finding a school place for their child,” he concluded.
- Bill aims to tackle double charging for the same services -
Fianna Fáil will publish a Bill to provide property tax relief for homeowners who are paying management fees. The Fianna Fáil Bill provides a discount on property tax worth a third of the management fee, up to a maximum of €300 a year.
There are over 200,000 apartments in the country and tens of thousands of other homes that pay management fees to servicing the property. Fianna Fáil Housing Spokesperson Darragh O’Brien is due to introduce the bill in the Dáil this Wednesday.
“The Local Property Tax was established to fund services such as maintaining public lighting, roads and paths, grounds keeping and managing public parking. However management fees are now going towards many of these services, which essentially means that some home owners are paying for the same thing on the double”, explained Deputy O’Brien.
“Fianna Fáil believes there should be a recognition that people are paying twice for the same services, and to that end we propose a partial reduction in the local property tax equal to one third of the management fee, one third of the local property tax, or €300, whichever is the lower amount. Under the proposed legislation, nobody would ever gain more than €300.
“This Bill will help apartment owners, particularly those living in Dublin. Drawing on CSO statistics, the average reduction would be around €86 across over 200,000 units and would cost the State around €17.5m a year.
“This legislation is about ensuring we have a fair property tax system where nobody pays on the double for the same services. Fianna Fáil is committed to ensuring there is no increase in the Local Property Tax for homeowners and to ensure a fairer, more equitable system is put in place in the upcoming review. I will work with other parties to achieve this”.
Fianna Fáil Housing Spokesperson, Darragh O’Brien TD has called on the Government to expedite the establishment of a new mechanism to support Credit Union investment in public housing.
Despite the Central Bank allowing Credit Unions to invest in such a vehicle since January, the Government has yet to finalise a proposal.
He said, “For years now, Credit Unions have put forward a clear strategy to finance public housing. The Central Bank provided for regulations on the matter earlier this year.
“There is a commitment in the Confidence & Supply agreement between Fianna Fáil & Fine Gael to “Develop a strategy for the growth and development of the Credit Union sector”.
“Regrettably, this Government has failed to finalise a specific proposal to allow Credit Unions invest in the provision of public housing across Ireland.
“At a time when more and more families face a crisis in public and affordable housing, Fine Gael has prioritised funding private landlords rather than support the means for additional investment to develop new housing units.
“I have written to the Housing Minister to highlight the critical need to expedite its process to fully enable the Credit Union sector in this regard.
“It’s truly puzzling as to why this Government would wish to ignore such a worthwhile strategy put forward by the Credit Union to alleviate a national crisis in housing that has gone beyond measure, Deputy O’Brien concluded.
For every €1.00 invested into the private housing sector, just 85c
has been spent on long term housing needs
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing, Darragh O’Brien TD has said Fine Gael’s ongoing failure to prioritise capital investment in housing is unsustainable and is an approach that will take years to remedy or stabilise.
The Deputy was commenting having obtained information this week which reveals that the State has spent almost €4bn on private sector housing since Fine Gael has come into power.
Deputy O’Brien stated, “The data I have received indicates a major change in Government policy; a shift away from building homes and instead pouring taxpayers money into the private housing sector.
“It’s pretty stark to consider that €2.5bn has been spent since 2011 on providing rent supplement to private landlords across Ireland.
“To put this in context, prior to 2011 the State prioritised capital investment. In 2008, roughly €2.50 was put towards building homes for every €1 spent on short term housing supports. A total €1.5bn was spent on building housing units while providing HAP, RAS and rent supplement cost just €625m.
“This once prudent and sensible practice has been reversed under Fine Gael and the policy they have adopted will likely take years to catch up on.
“By injecting close to €1bn more into the private rental sector as opposed to properly investing long term capital over the past 7 years, Fine Gael evidently does not recognise the importance of sustainable capital investment. Their capital spending this year is already 30% behind 2008 levels.
“The forthcoming Budget must be one that puts housing first and which places an emphasis on building affordable homes up and down this country,” O’Brien concluded.
LPT Review set to be published in the coming months
Local Fianna Fáil TD and Housing Spokesperson, Darragh O’Brien has said any increase in Local Property Tax would be unjust on Fingal homeowners and should therefore not feature as part of the review expected in the coming months.
The Local Property Tax (LPT) was introduced in 2014 and is based on the self-assessed value of properties in May 2013.
O’Brien said, “I was pleased to have an input into the Fianna Fáil submission to the review of Local Property Tax earlier this year and which gave me the opportunity to share the concerns of home owners in our region.
“It is clear that there is absolutely no capacity for households in Dublin Fingal to take an increase in the Local Property Tax.
“I have been firm in my commitment to working to ensure that no extra tax burden is imposed on Fingal homeowners and that the current rate of property tax should remain unchanged.
“Given the detrimental impact that pyrite has had on thousands of homes across Fingal, it is only right that the homes included in the pyrite scheme are exempt from paying a property tax.
“It is crucial too that Local Authority Councillors make a greater contribution to how the tax take is allocated locally – people in the area rely on their feedback and input.
He concluded, “I intend on doing my utmost to prevent any hike in LPT tax for homeowners in the North County.”