The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, has announced plans to support the delivery of social housing stock following a 14 week construction sector shut-down. The plan includes:
Minister O’Brien welcomed the recent resumption of residential construction saying “the COVID-19 restrictions introduced by Government at the start of the year were necessary to curtail the movement of people and to protect public health. With the exception of limited social housing sites, residential construction has been stopped for three months and there will be a significant impact on output, with many projects delayed until 2022.
“In the short term, we need to ensure that all existing local authority stock is available to allocate to households on the social housing waiting lists, including households in homeless emergency accommodation. For this reason, I am providing funding to local authorities for the remediation of approximately 3,000 vacant social housing units this year.
“I also want to ensure that local authorities can quickly increase their stock and meet priority housing needs. I am providing increased flexibility for local authorities to undertake a programme of targeted acquisitions, primarily focused on one and four-bedroom units, which are in short supply, and specific properties for those with a disabilities. All acquisitions will be in line with my Department’s Acquisition Cost Guidelines and local authorities have also been instructed to avoid acquisitions that compete with private buyers (owner occupiers).
“I have also asked local authorities to examine opportunities for the delivery of new social housing by addressing vacancy and underutilised properties through Buy and Renew Construction and Repair and Leasing. Repurposing vacant and under-utilised properties, including commercial properties, can deliver much needed social homes, while also supporting the regeneration of our towns and villages. Last year I made changes to the Repair and Lease scheme, increasing the maximum funding available from €40,000 to €60,000. At the time I signalled that I also wanted to examine changes to the Buy and Renew scheme to make it easier for local authorities to purchase private vacant properties for use as social housing. We will now give local authorities delegated sanction to complete units within certain parameters, meaning they can get to work quickly purchasing, refurbishing or converting properties for use as social housing.
“A key focus of this Government has been to get local authorities back building. Having visited a number of local authorities over the past eight months I am acutely aware of the pressures they are under in terms of capacity and resource requirements. My Department are working on an evaluation of existing resources and will develop proposals to strengthen capacity and address resource constraints. These combined measures will help us to boost our supply of social housing as we get homebuilding back on track,” concluded Minister O’Brien.
The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD met with the High Level Homelessness Taskforce this morning to discuss the development of the Youth Homelessness Strategy.
The meeting also addressed the ongoing work to protect homeless people at risk of Covid-19 as the vaccine strategy is rolled out.
The High Level Homelessness Taskforce is made up of representatives from the Peter McVerry Trust, Dublin Simon Community, Focus Ireland, Threshold, DePaul, CrossCare and the Dublin Region Homelessness Executive and meet regularly by videoconference.
Commenting Minister O’Brien said. “Members of the Taskforce were asked to consider their current role in supporting young people experiencing homelessness, what services they are currently providing to young people in homeless services and what are the key challenges to address youth homelessness from a service provision viewpoint.
“I am very grateful to all members for their input which will better inform the response of my Department who will now develop the proposals and inputs into a more detailed policy document.
“Central to this will be a cross-Departmental collaboration and this paper will be informed by further engagement with the Minister and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.
“I look forward to meeting with Minister Roderic O’Gorman on the matter and to reaching realisable solutions which will not only meet the specific needs of those young people who do end up experiencing homelessness but importantly, prevent young people from becoming homeless in the first place.
“Addressing the role that Task Force member organisations have played in terms of protecting vulnerable homeless individuals during the pandemic the Minister said, “relative to the wider population the rates of infection have been well managed, especially given the vulnerable nature of those in homelessness and the congregated nature of many settings. This is testament to the ongoing hard work of frontline local authority and service provider staff, including those organisations represented on the Taskforce. While vaccinations are being rolled out, there is a need for continued vigilance and I am committed to working with all stakeholders to ensure that those experiencing homelessness are being provided with all the supports and protections necessary,” he concluded.
Local Minister Darragh O’Brien TD has welcomed the planned implementation of a community based initiative to address the misuse of scramblers and quad bikes.
The community based initiative will work in tandem with and complement the planned enhanced legislative provisions to provide a more coherent and rounded response to the issues connected with the anti-social use of scramblers and other vehicles.
Commenting Minister O’Brien said, “Back in February I strongly supported new legislative measures to give An Garda Síochána additional powers to help tackle the anti-social use of scrambler bikes, quad bikes, and similar off-road machines in spaces such as public parks. The anti-social use of scramblers and quad bikes is something we have unfortunately seen in North County Dublin, particularly in Swords, and I know it is something which Councillor Brigid Manton and Councillor Darragh Butler have campaigned on over recent years.
“We all agree we need legislation to help the communities in Fingal who have been tormented by loud, intimidating scramblers and quad bikes on public roads and parks. As well as being incredibly dangerous it is destroying the quality of life in many estates. This community based initiative will take an alternative but equally important approach by engaging with young people with an interest in motorcycles – training them in vehicle maintenance, safe use of vehicles, and opportunities for motocross, as well as relevant personal development or educational activities. A programme such as this will be invaluable in communities where it’s badly needed,” he said.
Councillor Brigid Manton added, “Residents should not have to worry about their streets and parks being turned into no-go areas by dangerous driving on scramblers. We need strong deterrents but we do also need to engage proactively with our young people who are using these vehicles. A key aspect of this community initiative will be the fact that admission will require a commitment by the young person to complete all aspects of the programme and to abstain from illegal or anti-social use of these vehicles. I think this a positive and progressive step which will be welcomed by the people of Swords,” she concluded.
The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien TD has announced that the role of Chairperson of the Land Development Agency (LDA) has been advertised on the Public Appointments Service (PAS) website.
As the LDA Bill to establish the LDA as a commercial state agency is now progressing through the Oireachtas, preparations are being made to recruit a Board for this agency. Under the Guidelines for Appointments to State Boards, these board positions are advertised and recruited through the stateboards.ie process. It is usual practice to advertise the Chairperson position first followed by the ordinary board member positions.
The LDA Chairperson role has been advertised on stateboards.ie with a closing date for applications of 29th April 2021. It is open to members of the interim board of the existing LDA entity to apply for the Chairperson and other Board positions should they wish to do so.
Commenting Minister O’Brien said “I would encourage suitably qualified candidates to apply for this post. I intend to fulfil the Programme for Government commitment to ensure that the LDA Board includes a cross-spectrum of housing, financial, governance and other independent experts needed to fulfil its remit. Oireachtas colleagues have also made some proposals for additional skillsets to be represented on the LDA Board which I am certainly open to considering.
The LDA is already progressing a number of important strategic projects which will produce significant levels of affordable homes on public lands. It is an exciting long term project, which will profoundly shape the regeneration of our urban centres over the coming years and deliver much needed homes. If you feel you have the right skillsets and want to drive housing delivery, I would encourage you to apply to serve on the LDA Board as and when the board roles are advertised.”
Minister O’Brien also confirmed that he has received notification from Mr. John Moran, who has served as interim LDA Chairperson since January 2019 that he does not intend to seek the Chairperson role for the new Land Development Agency (LDA) commercial agency. Mr Moran will continue as interim LDA Chairperson until the extension of his original term expires on 1st May 2021.
The Minister said “I would like to take this opportunity to thank John for all his work on behalf of the LDA since his appointment in January 2019. John has played a key role in setting the strategic direction of the LDA, putting in place corporate governance structures for the organisation and overseeing the initial LDA projects and strategic initiatives. He has also performed a vital communications role in highlighting the central role that the LDA will play in delivering and implementing Project Ireland 2040, the Government’s plan to create sustainable communities and help reduce urban sprawl.
In particular, I would like to note the major contribution that John has made in developing the LDA’s regional city strategies and the various master-planning processes underway in our cities in conjunction with the relevant local authorities. In time, these processes will bear fruit in terms of balanced regional growth in Ireland. I know John is involved in other important initiatives and I wish him well in those ventures,” he concluded.
Minister O’Brien commends Ballyboughal Community Council & Ballyboughal Covid Assist Group on distribution of food boxes
-Food Boxes provided by Rapid Relief Team-
Local Minister Darragh O’Brien TD has commended Ballyboughal Community Council and Ballyboughal Covid Assist Group on the distribution of 100 food boxes to older and more vulnerable members of the local community.
Today [April 2, 2021] 100 food boxes, provided by the Rapid Relief Team (RRT) headed by Director Murray Robinson and Ben Watson of Enquip Supplies in Balbriggan, will be delivered by Ballyboughal Community Council and Ballyboughal Covid Assist Group which was established by Vicky McGauley at the outset of the pandemic.
The boxes, which were acquired by Vicky McGauley through negotiations with the very generous Murray and Ben of the RRT, will be happily received by older and more vulnerable locals in the Ballyboughal area.
Commenting Minister O’Brien said, “I would just like to really thank the Rapid Relief Team for their very generous donation and Vicky and Stephanie along with the wider Ballyboughal Community Council and Ballyboughal Covid Assist Group for mobilising so swiftly and getting these boxes out to those who need them most.
“This is just one example of the magnificent community spirit we have seen throughout this pandemic in Ballyboughal and the surrounding area. Since the onset of the pandemic over a year ago, the Ballyboughal Community Council and Ballyboughal Covid Assist Group has been providing vital services to those impacted most severely by the restrictions. Whether it be delivering groceries, collecting prescriptions or simply alleviating loneliness with a chat, they have really brought meaning to the Irish word 'Meitheal',” concluded Minister O’Brien.
Local Minister Darragh O’Brien TD has welcomed the announcement of €72,000 in funding for Fingal County Council under the Built Heritage Investment Scheme (BHIS) 2021.
The BHIS is one of two built heritage funding schemes run by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage in association with the 31 Local Authorities. Through grants of up to €15,000, the BHIS assists owners of heritage structures – including those on the local authorities’ Record of Protected Structures and those in Architectural Conservation Areas – to meet their obligations to care for their properties.
10 built heritage projects in Fingal will share the funding which owners and custodians of historic and protected structures can use to safeguard and maintain them.
Commenting Minister O’Brien said, “Here in Fingal we will see a range of projects supported by this investment. From external joinery repairs to Laurel Mount in Borranstown to window glass conservation in Kenure Church of Ireland Church in Rush, this funding will not only help to safeguard our rich built heritage but it will also have a knock-on economic benefit by generating jobs, providing further employment for heritage contractors and other skilled crafts and tradespeople.
“The success of the Built Heritage Investment Scheme is testament to the close working relationship between my Department and Local Authorities including Fingal County Council. It’s very welcome to see local authorities such as Fingal placing such a strong emphasis on their rich built heritage,” he concluded.
Notes to Editor: The projects to be funded under the Built Heritage Investment Scheme 2021 include:
FINGAL COUNTY COUNCIL
Laurel Mount, Borranstown, Co. Dublin
External joinery repair
Kenure Church of Ireland Church, Skerries Road, Rush, Co. Dublin
Historic window glass conservation/protection
Corduff House, Corduff, Lusk, Co. Dublin
External joinery repair
Killossery/Rowlestown Mill, Rowlestown, Co. Dublin
External & internal wall repair (mud walls)
Church of St. Nicholas of Myra, Malahide Road, Kinsealy, Co. Dublin
Roof repair, structures & coverings including leadwork
Church of the Assumption, Main Street, Howth, Co. Dublin
Rainwater goods repair/replacement
St. David’s Church of Ireland Church, Kilsallaghan, Co. Dublin
Knockmaroon Lodge, Knockmaroon Hill, Chapelizod, Dublin
Rogerstown Pier, Rogerstown, Rush, Co. Dublin
External wall repair
Stonehaven, No. 32 Strand Road, Sutton, Co. Dublin
External joinery repair