Fianna Fáil Dublin City Councillors Tom Brabazon, and Sean Paul Mahon as well as Fingal County Councillor, Eoghan O’Brien joined local TD’s Darragh O’Brien and Sean Haughey to present to planners during yesterday’s An Bord Pleanála oral hearing on the proposed Greater Dublin Drainage Project at Clonshaugh in North County Dublin.
Speaking during proceedings which took place in The Gresham Hotel, Spokesperson on Housing, Planning and Local Government, Darragh O’Brien said, “Since it was first proposed, the Greater Dublin Drainage Project has deeply frustrated local residents. Should this giant sewage orbital development be permitted to proceed exactly as planned in the North County, our popular and scenic peninsula stands to be gravely affected not just environmentally but even economically given the impact it will have on tourism.
“It’s of no surprise then that over 34,000 public submissions have been received in relation to details contained in this plan – most notably the fact that sewage will only be treated to the minimum secondary level.
“I was assured by Irish Water last June that the focus of priority was on upgrading the Ringsend facility but that is clearly not the case provided we are here today pleading the case to review the plans due to proceed in our area.
“Still no cost-benefit analysis on what is a large capital project but we are told to believe it’s in line with prudent spending. Week in week out constituents are approaching my colleagues on Fingal County Council and I to voice these points. It is our responsibility as local elected representatives to ensure that their concerns are heard and acted on.
He concluded, “I reject the notion that a development of this scale is in the best interest of the North County and I strongly believe that the project needs to be examined in closer detail.”
Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin Bay North, Sean Haughey added, “This is a project that if completed as proposed, would be four times the size of Croke Park and imposed on quiet, residential suburban communities.
“In my view there have been series inconsistencies in planning down through the years and local residents have been the ones inconvenienced as a consequence. The main fear is the impact that this construction will likely have on the marine habitat that exists in the UNESCO Dublin Bay Biosphere.
“I have certain reservations regarding the health and safety systems in place in the Ringsend plant and therefore I do not have sufficient trust that Dublin Bay, Portmarnock’s Blue Flag Beach or Bull Island won’t be affected by sewage discharges.
“There is an acute awareness of the foul smell experienced by residents living in Sandymount, Ringsend area as a result of the operation of the plant nearby and there is real fear that it will be the same in the Northside.
“The sheer size and scale of this project makes it totally contrary to the proper planning and development of this area and I cannot support it’s construction at proposed,” concluded Haughey.
Fianna Fáil spokesperson for Housing, Planning, and Local Government Darragh O’Brien TD has said the number of homeless people in the state rising above 10,000 is a shameful illustration of the Governments failed housing policy.
Deputy O’Brien said, “The official numbers released tonight are a shameful and saddening example of failed Government policy. The latest figures have risen by 277 compared with the same figures in January 2019. The total figure of 10, 264 does not account for people sleeping rough or the hidden homeless which we know are out there.
“There have been flashy launches with hard hats and photo opportunities however the facts speak for themselves. Not enough is being done to bring homeless numbers down. The Minister should be doing his level best to bring these lists down, not commenting on them to express his disappointment when they are announced.
“Last year local authorities missed their targets for building social housing units. There was uncertainty over funding levels in the Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme. There is problem after problem in the Governments delivery of housing and it does not seem to be letting up.
“These new figures won’t give any hope to the 10, 264, comprising of families and children, who are living in homelessness tonight,” concluded Deputy O’Brien.
-PQ's show that Department of Public Expenditure does not collect data on how long completing bureaucratic requirements takes on each housing project-
Under Department of Public Expenditure rules, public projects costing more than €20 million must first undergo a detailed Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA), which can take months to complete.
PQ data received by Fianna Fáil Housing Spokesperson Darragh O’Brien TD shows that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform does not keep statistics on the length of time each Cost Benefit Analysis takes. However, recent FOI information reports from Dublin City Council have shown serious concerns around housing project delays caused by completing CBA’s.
Commenting on the PQ reply Deputy O’Brien stated “We are in the middle of a national housing crisis but last year Local Authorities missed their targets for building social housing units. It’s clear from concerns stated by officials in Local Government that Government red tape is one factor in slowing down bricks and mortar being put in the ground.
“I am shocked the Department does not bother to collect data on how long getting through this red tape takes each project. The Department sets the rules but in failure of joined up thinking, fails to see what impact they actually have. It’s clear that the Department is ignoring the pressing need and scale of the housing crisis and sticking to rigid rules. Value for money and efficiency should go hand in hand but the Department is focused on box ticking, not building.
“The Department needs to fully and quickly review its spending code rules and allow more large-scale housing projects to undergo development without jumping through onerous bureaucratic hoops that do not reflect the reality on the ground.
“The newly established Investment Projects and Programmes Office (IPPO) should be tasked with cutting down delays and ensuring that delivery time is a critical factor in evaluating housing projects,” concluded Deputy O’Brien.
Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin Fingal and Chairperson for the North Dublin Regional Drugs and Alcohol Task Force, Darragh O’Brien has said Government need to step up to the times and acknowledge that drug and alcohol use poses danger to communities without properly funded taskforces in operation.
The Deputy raised the matter in Dáil Éireann last week and said, “The services provided by the small team working as part of Fingal’s Regional Drugs and Alcohol Taskforce have a real impact on the ground. Sadly however, with limited resources in a catchment area that captures roughly 300,000 people, it can be often difficult for this team to treat every single person that has sought their support.
“North County Dublin happens to be the youngest region in the country with a population size that only continues to rise. This has been flagged time and time again yet the taskforce are only resourced enough to have just one counsellor in place to see under 18 year old’s. As the latest stats show a huge number of young families have made Fingal their home in recent years but there is only funding to employ one family support worker.
“When I and my Fianna Fáil colleagues raised concerns regarding funding we were assured that an additional €1million would be added but when divided among the 23 other taskforces that provides us with some €41,000. As Chair I can confidently say that this funding will be used well but one off paltry sums are no way to support a regional team operate all year round. It needs streamlined, core funding that is increased multi-annually to function properly.
“Expecting a team to be able to lessen the adverse impact caused by drugs and alcohol on a community of some 300,000 and quickly expanding with just €777,000 is an unreasonable ask.
“A taskforce style structure with qualified, trained and educated people employed to provide services in a community based setting and under the auspices of the HSE can achieve so much more when adequately funded by Government. In fact I believe that their role not just in treating those affected by drug and alcohol use but in educating young people to prevent future abuse, should be strengthened.
“At a time when new, more dangerous trends in the use of substances are emerging truly improving society’s relationship with drugs and alcohol at a regional level will require a greater and more meaningful response from Government than there has been to date,” he concluded.
Commenting on reports that the Government’s Home Loan Scheme has run into funding difficulties, Fianna Fáil’s Housing Spokesperson, Darragh O’Brien said, “The Rebuilding Ireland Home loan scheme was sold as the key evidence of Fine Gael’s commitment to improving home affordability.
“Once again, it appears that the entire focus of Fine Gael was on generating publicity rather than developing and resourcing an actual policy that would have an impact in the real world.
"Just two weeks ago the Minister referred to the home loan scheme when I raised concerns but failed to acknowledge any issues, despite now knowing that at least one Local Authority had flagged funding problems. This raises two possibilities – the Minister deliberately withheld important information, or he is just not on top of his brief.
"The Minister needs to quickly clarify when he discovered that the scheme was running out of funding? When he became aware of this, why did he not inform the Dáil or the Housing Committee? He also needs to quickly clarify why Local Authorities were kept in the dark.
“Those who have submitted a valid application, who are eligible for the scheme and have proceeded on the basis that they would be getting this help need to know what the Minister is planning to do about it and what support they will be getting.
“This latest chapter in the country’s housing crisis is further evidence of the lack of focus, planning and competent execution on the part of this Minister,” Deputy O’Brien concluded.