Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Bill, 1998: Report Stage.

Amendment No. 1 is out of order because it involved a potential charge on the Revenue and does not arise from Committee Stage proceedings.

Mr. Hayes

On a point of order, how does the amendment involve a charge? It is a simple amendment which seeks to define a problem which was brought to my attention since Committee Stage.

Acting Chairman

My instructions are that the amendment involves a charge.

Mr. Hayes

I do not mean to be unruly but this matter was discussed on Committee Stage and so I understand I am in order in bringing this amendment on Report Stage.

Acting Chairman

I am sorry, Deputy, but the amendment has been ruled out because it involves a charge on the Revenue.

Amendment No. 1 not moved.

Acting Chairman

Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 are alternatives and may be discussed together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 9, to delete line 12 and substitute the following:

"(d) the local consultative committee concerned,

(e) such local community bodies as the relevant housing authority consider appropriate, and".

During Committee Stage an undertaking was given to Deputy Hayes to look again at the question of providing in section 8 a specific reference to community groups to ensure their involvement in the process of preparing and adopting accommodation programmes from the early stages. The debate on subsequent amendments concerning the public consultative process were also of interest and relevant to this issue. It is now considered that prior notification of such groups is a more appropriate mechanism for ensuring consultation with the local community without prejudice to how such consultation should develop over the preparation and adoption period. Amendment No. 2 is proposed in lieu of amendment No. 3 from Deputy Hayes.

Mr. Hayes

I welcome the Minister's amendment and thank him and his officials for considering my Committee Stage proposal. It is good housekeeping for local authority housing departments to inform the widest possible range of people, groups and organisations within their functional areas. I am glad the Minister took my argument on board and in that light I will not move my amendment in favour of the Minister's, which is more technically correct.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 3 not moved.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 13, line 38, after "may" to insert "and, if in his or her opinion the combined provision for travellers made by the accommodation programmes of the several relevant housing authorities in the State falls short of the extent, in the Minister's opinion, of the total national requirement for provision for travellers, shall, to the extent necessary to rectify the shortfall,".

We discussed this matter on Committee Stage and I hoped the Minister would use the intervening period, even though it was not a long one, to reflect on my arguments. The purpose of my amendment is to ensure an adequate fallback position is available to the Minister in the event that the various programmes fall short of what is required. On Committee Stage there was much discussion of the Minister's view that it is the local perspective which is important but while that is true, speakers from all parties said that the sum of all the local schemes must add up to a total which is adequate for the national requirement. It must fall to the Minister to ensure that is so but the problem with the provisions as currently drafted is that there is no requirement on him to take action if it is his opinion that the total national allocation falls short of what is required. My amendment puts such a requirement on the Minister by providing that he "shall" act "to the extent necessary to rectify the shortfall". I made the case at length on Committee Stage and do not propose to repeat the arguments. We have a different Minister of State today — I do not suggest Deputy Wallace is less attentive but he was not present for my Committee Stage arguments, although no doubt his officials will have relayed my case to him. I hope he finds my amendment acceptable.

I support Deputy Howlin's amendment. It is vital that there be national co-ordination to ensure the sum of all local authority schemes is sufficient to deal with the problem, so that we no longer have the previous problem whereby the weight of responsibility falls on willing local authorities while others escape.

I am not convinced this amendment contributes anything to the powers of intervention already available to the Minister under section 18, which enables him, following consultation with a relevant housing authority or authorities concerned, to require that accommodation programmes be prepared, amended, replaced, prepared jointly or co-ordinated by two or more housing authorities in a specified way and by a specified date. It would be expected that any requirement to amend a programme on the basis of inadequate provision could only be based on the local assessment of needs. The proposed amendment presumes the Minister has available separate information on the total national requirement for traveller accommodation but no such information is available to the Minister, other than what emerges from the local assessment of needs. Introducing a national dimension to accommodation is, therefore, artificial.

Local assessment of needs, including the next statutory assessment due to be carried out in March 1999, will be the basis on which the local traveller accommodation programme will be drafted. Local authorities are obliged to have regard to the needs identified in the assessment in preparing their programmes; any shortfall in the provision of accommodation can only be identified on a local basis by comparing the assessment of needs with the proposals for meeting these needs as set out in each programme. Having regard to the general thrust of local government reform and the principle of subsidiarity, it is considered that the powers conferred on the Minister in section 18 are sufficient in the circumstances. I do not propose to accept this amendment.

Alas, my fears are justified and we have not progressed since our Committee Stage discussion — the Minister is different but the script is the same. One sometimes wonders whether Committee and Report Stages are of any value if arguments trenchantly made are not responded to. Not only do I subscribe to subsidiarity, as Minister, I initiated it in the reform programme. This is national co-ordination which we discussed at some length, both in the context of my amendment which we are now revisiting and the amendments of Deputy Mitchell.

When Deputies of all persuasions argue for the need for co-ordination, it is not good enough for the Minister to say that under the principle of subsidiarity, every local authority must act in accordance with their own perceived need. There is no one to ensure that the individual components add up to meet the national need. That is the job of the Minister and he cannot abrogate that, retreat from it or pretend it is not his.

We cannot say that when this measure is enacted we have done our duty and local authorities may do as they wish — that has been the problem all along. Good local authorities have been prevented from acting because there is always a reason for some not to act. Under section 18 the Minister "may" act. That is not good enough. My amendment proposes that he "shall" act if he becomes aware that the national provision is not good enough.

The Minister has not responded to the case I made on Committee Stage. There is a national responsibility of co-ordination which resides in the Minister and his Department. He cannot wash his hands of that responsibility by saying that under the principle of subsidiarity every local authority must be allowed to do its own thing. We know from reality and hard experience that some have not done the right thing and have not lived up to their responsibilities. Unless there is a legal obligation on the Minister to ensure it is done — that he "shall" act rather than "may" act — we cannot be confident that the important work of this Bill will be implemented as we require.

Mr. Hayes

We were given a commitment by the Government throughout discussion of this legislation that, where possible, provisions would be tightened so that the law could operate. This amendment will copperfasten the objectives of this Bill rather than detract from them. Deputies Howlin and Mitchell said that local authority members in areas where the traveller programme is working are frustrated that a minority of local authorities have done nothing.

If the Minister is serious about implementing this legislation, he must accept that we will do everything in our power on Committee Stage and Report Stage to ensure the measures are tightened and effective. This amendment and the proposals put forward on Committee Stage are intended to improve this legislation. I ask the Minister to rethink his response to this amendment.

There was a long discussion of this matter on Committee Stage. There are adequate powers for the intervention of the Minister under section 18 of the Bill. It is important to give the Minister the discretion to use such powers where necessary. Unfortunately, I cannot accept the amendment.

I intend to press the amendment. I have argued my case as best I can. It is clear my argument is falling on deaf ears because the Minister did say why he cannot accept my amendment. Under section 18, the Minister "may" act when inadequate provision is recognised. My amendment proposes that he "shall" act. The notion that discretion should be left to the Minister allows the recalcitrants to be recalcitrant if that is their choice and is unacceptable. I ask the Minister to accept this amendment rather than divide the House.

Unfortunately, I cannot accept the amendment.

Amendment put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 65; Níl, 76.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Stagg and Barrett; Níl, Deputies S. Brennan and Power.

  • Barnes, Monica.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Barrett, Seán
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • Belton, Louis.
  • McGahon, Brendan.
  • Boylan, Andrew.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • Bradford, Paul.
  • McGrath, Paul.
  • Bruton, John.
  • Mitchell, Gay.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Mitchell, Jim.
  • Burke, Liam.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Burke, Ulick.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Carey, Donal.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Clune, Deirdre.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • O'Keeffe, Jim.
  • Cosgrave, Michael.
  • O'Shea, Brian.
  • Crawford, Seymour.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Owen, Nora.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Perry, John.
  • De Rossa, Proinsias.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Deasy, Austin.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Reynolds, Gerard.
  • Dukes, Alan.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Durkan, Bernard.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Enright, Thomas.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Farrelly, John.
  • Sheehan, Patrick.
  • Finucane, Michael.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Gilmore, Éamon.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Hayes, Brian.
  • Upton, Pat.
  • Higgins, Jim.
  • Wall, Jack.
  • Hogan, Philip.
  • Yates, Ivan.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Stagg and Barrett; Níl, Deputies S. Brennan and Power.

    Amendment declared lost.

    Barnes, Monica.

    Cosgrave, Michael.

    Barrett, Seán

    Crawford, Seymour.

    Bell, Michael.

    Creed, Michael.

    Belton, Louis.

    Currie, Austin.

    Boylan, Andrew.

    D'Arcy, Michael.

    Bradford, Paul.

    De Rossa, Proinsias.

    Broughan, Thomas.

    Deasy, Austin.

    Bruton, John.

    Deenihan, Jimmy.

    Bruton, Richard.

    Dukes, Alan.

    Burke, Liam.

    Durkan, Bernard.

    Burke, Ulick.

    Enright, Thomas.

    Carey, Donal.

    Farrelly, John.

    Clune, Deirdre.

    Finucane, Michael.

    Connaughton, Paul.

    Fitzgerald, Frances.

    Flanagan, Charles.

    O'Shea, Brian.

    Gilmore, Éamon.

    O'Sullivan, Jan.

    Gregory, Tony.

    Owen, Nora.

    Hayes, Brian.

    Perry, John.

    Higgins, Jim.

    Quinn, Ruairí.

    Hogan, Philip.

    Rabbitte, Pat.

    Howlin, Brendan.

    Reynolds, Gerard.

    McCormack, Pádraic.

    Ring, Michael.

    McDowell, Derek.

    Sargent, Trevor.

    McGahon, Brendan.

    Shatter, Alan.

    McGinley, Dinny.

    Sheehan, Patrick.

    McGrath, Paul.

    Shortall, Róisín.

    Mitchell, Gay.

    Stagg, Emmet.

    Mitchell, Jim.

    Stanton, David.

    Mitchell, Olivia.

    Timmins, Billy.

    Naughten, Denis.

    Upton, Pat.

    Neville, Dan.

    Wall, Jack.

    Noonan, Michael.

    Yates, Ivan.

    O'Keeffe, Jim.

    Níl

    Ahern, Bertie.

    Jacob, Joe.

    Ahern, Dermot.

    Kelleher, Billy.

    Ahern, Michael.

    Kenneally, Brendan.

    Ahern, Noel.

    Killeen, Tony.

    Andrews, David.

    Kirk, Séamus.

    Ardagh, Seán

    Kitt, Michael.

    Aylward, Liam.

    Kitt, Tom.

    Blaney, Harry.

    Lawlor, Liam.

    Brady, Johnny.

    Lenihan, Brian.

    Brady, Martin.

    Lenihan, Conor.

    Brennan, Matt.

    Martin, Micheál.

    Brennan, Séamus.

    McDaid, James.

    Briscoe, Ben.

    McGennis, Marian.

    Browne, John (Wexford).

    McGuinness, John.

    Byrne, Hugh.

    Moffatt, Thomas.

    Callely, Ivor.

    Moloney, John.

    Carey, Pat.

    Moynihan, Donal.

    Collins, Michael.

    Moynihan, Michael.

    Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.

    Ó Cuív, Éamon.

    Coughlan, Mary.

    O'Dea, Willie.

    Cowen, Brian.

    O'Donnell, Liz.

    Cullen, Martin.

    O'Donoghue, John.

    Daly, Brendan.

    O'Flynn, Noel.

    Davern, Noel.

    O'Hanlon, Rory.

    de Valera, Síle.

    O'Keeffe, Ned.

    Dempsey, Noel.

    O'Rourke, Mary.

    Dennehy, John.

    Power, Seán

    Doherty, Seán

    Roche, Dick.

    Ellis, John.

    Ryan, Eoin.

    Fahey, Frank.

    Smith, Brendan.

    Fleming, Seán

    Smith, Michael.

    Flood, Chris.

    Treacy, Noel.

    Foley, Denis.

    Wade, Eddie.

    Fox, Mildred.

    Wallace, Dan.

    Hanafin, Mary.

    Wallace, Mary.

    Harney, Mary.

    Walsh, Joe.

    Haughey, Seán

    Woods, Michael.

    Healy-Rae, Jackie.

    Wright, G. V.

    Amendment No. 6 is an alternative to No. 5. Therefore, amendments Nos. 5 and 6 may be discussed together.

    I move amendment No. 5:

    In page 14, between lines 19 and 20, to insert the following:

    "(7) The National Consultative Committee shall, in respect of each year and by such date as the Minister may direct, prepare and submit a report in writing to the Minister on its activities during that year and the Minister shall cause copies of such report to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas.".

    On Committee Stage the principle behind an amendment proposed by Deputy Howlin in relation to annual reports was accepted. The proposed insertion in section 19 of paragraph (7) provides for this. There is now no need for amendment No. 6 from Deputy Howlin.

    I acknowledge the advance of this amendment from the Minister of State. I am grateful he has accepted the import of what I wanted to achieve. I am happy to accept his amendment in preference to my own.

    Amendment agreed to.
    Amendment No. 6 not moved.

    Amendment No. 7 arises out of the Committee proceedings. Amendments Nos. 8 and 10 are related and amendment No. 9 is consequential on amendment No. 8. Amendments Nos. 7 to 10, inclusive, may be taken together. Is that agreed?

    On a point of order, I am not certain of the relationship between amendments Nos. 8 and 10. Deputy Hayes's amendment seeks representation in relation to residents' associations. The proportionality of traveller representation is the import of amendment No. 10. I have no difficulty in discussing them together.

    Mr. Hayes

    Amendment No. 9 would not negate Deputy Howlin's amendment No. 10. In fact, it adds another category and does not change the total fraction.

    Acting Chairman

    If the Deputy wants to take amendment No. 10 separately there is no difficulty in doing so.

    I would prefer to do that.

    Acting Chairman

    Is that agreed? Agreed.

    Amendments Nos. 7 to 9, inclusive, may be discussed together.

    Mr. Hayes

    I move amendment No. 7:

    In page 16, between lines 13 and 14, to insert the following:

    "(d) advise on matters which relate to increasing understanding and mutual respect between the settled and Traveller communities.".

    This series of amendments relates to the functions and composition of the local traveller committee. We had a good exchange of views about this on Committee Stage. This amendment seeks to include another function in these local committees, which is to "advise on matters which relate to increasing understanding and mutual respect between the settled and Traveller communities". This matter is an important one.

    I am aware that over the past two years or so a variety of local authorities have establishedad hoc traveller committees. These committees have not worked well in every local authority area but in some areas they have. The Bill is fundamentally flawed by the exclusion of residents and community organisations from local travellers' committees.

    In the Seanad, the Minister of State, Deputy Molloy said: "Having regard to the role of the committees in improving the participation of travellers in the planning, design and management of their accommodation, and in order to foster improved understanding between local authorities and the local travelling community." That is wrong. Of course, it should be to foster mutual respect and understanding between the local authorities and the travellers, but also between the local communities because that is where the build-up of prejudice is.

    On Second Stage I pointed out the pioneering work of Fr. Micheál MacGréil on the issue of prejudice. It shows the gaps that exist in the relationship between the traveller and the settled person in the community That is the work we have to do. It is not just a question of involving local authority planners, people in community departments and members of local authorities; it is ensuring that the residents and the community are brought head to head and face to face with travellers. If they do not choose to sit on these committees that is their problem but it is bad law to put in place a provision which specifically excludes them from the process.

    Many local authorities have set up thesead hoc committees and we have had some success with them. Unfortunately, in my area the travellers' bodies refused to be part of those committees because they did not want to sit with residents. It is wrong of the State, therefore, to introduce legislation — particularly in sections 21 and 22 — which specifically excludes one group or another. That is the key issue at the heart of these local committees. They are consultative committees and the ultimate power resides with the members. We are not talking about giving the committees any massive increase in their powers but we want a cross section of people there.

    If we have these committees in place, we can, over time, do something about the build up of prejudice between the traveller and the settled person.

    My amendments will improve the legislation and ensure that both groups have to meet on equal terms in the local authority area. It is wrong to increase prejudice and misunderstanding by excluding residents and communities.

    An important point is involved in terms of the role and functions of the local consultative committee. It is a difficult question because, by definition, there are wide disparities between the disposition of one residents' association and another, as there is between one part of Dublin and another or one part of the country and another.

    When I reflect on the constituency that Deputy Hayes and I represent, I have to smile when I read of some of the high profile initiatives in some parts of the country in respect of the accommodation of travelling people. On any given day, we have more travellers in a corner of one field than some local authorities in other parts of Dublin, and especially outside Dublin, have in total.

    The situation has been made immensely more difficult by the failure over the years to implement any fair network of halting sites and other provision for the accommodation of travellers. The result is that west Dublin — where the problem is exacerbated at this time of year — has a grossly disproportionate problem to contend with. I refer to it as a problem in the sense that providing accommodation for the number of families resident in west Dublin is a major one for any local authority. I am not just talking about the difficulties of local residents, but about the cost of providing decent accommodation for travellers in those circumstances.

    As regards the amendment concerning the composition of local committees, subsection (3) of the Bill sets out the role of the local consultative committee and what it may advise. If local people are not involved in the process it is a serious mistake in terms of trying to address the urgent necessity to provide decent accommodation for travelling people.

    In my own constituency, at Brookfield, there is a halting site properly established and maintained by the local authority. It was originally constructed for ten families and it works exceptionally well. In fact, at various times over the few years of the existence of what is a new community, the families had a representative on the residents' association. The deputy county manager of the day gave a commitment that if the people of that area expressed their generosity in terms of facilitating such a site, no additional site or illegal encampment would be tolerated. The county manager is now seeking to establish a second halting site within less than 1,000 metres of the one established a number of years ago. That situation is unconscionable. It is not fair to impose a disproportionate share of this problem on any community. It is not fair that one part of Dublin has to contend with a disproportionate share of the social problems from another part of Dublin.

    I am disappointed that this issue will not be addressed by a separate agency as recommended in the report or in the same way as the National Roads Authority was set up and empowered to make the necessary decisions on the planning of roads. The backsliding by councillors and local administrations is likely to continue. We are left in this situation today because such backsliding went on for years. As a result, when a local authority, like South Dublin County Council, shows a progressive track record in providing for the legitimate needs of travelling people, it is expected to continue providing such accommodation.

    In addition to the resident halting site, which is properly managed, a large number of travelling families are housed in the adjacent area. Not only are relations as good as I have said, they are represented on the residents' association. However, the county manager wants to build a second halting site within 1,000 metres of the one already established. That is not acceptable. I do not know what the Minister can do to ensure a geographic spread in terms of providing for travelling people, but it is a major issue in parts of this city — I cannot speak for other parts of the country.

    There is merit in the amendment tabled by Deputy Hayes. Apart from addressing the question of functions and the composition of local committees, it will force local people to learn about and become involved in this problem. If they know they are likely to confront this issue, then it is better for them to do so. For that reason, I support the amendment.

    I agree with Deputy Rabbitte it is wrong that any one community should have to disproportionately deal with the burden, if that is the appropriate word, of resolving this long standing issue. In Bray in my constituency there is a proud record and tradition of settling travelling families within the community and it has worked well. I commend in particular the local working class estates which have accepted that burden.

    The people who prognosticate and preach about this problem live in middle class enclaves well away from it.The Irish Times mentality is that everybody should solve every social problem but not in my neighbourhood. I had an extraordinary case of this mentality in my constituency where a journalist gutted the people of Rahoon and Galway for their “rahoonery” and the people of Bray for their unchristian attitude until it was suggested that a travellers halt would be built within half a mile of that journalist's eyrie. The change of attitude was extraordinary. There were personal approaches not just to me but to the Minister of the day to put pressure on the local authority to find a more suitable place.

    Acting Chairman

    I remind the Deputy that we are on Report Stage.

    I am addressing the issue. How do we deal with this issue and involve local communities? I agree that local communities should be involved. However, I disagree with the two previous speakers on one issue. Deputy Rabbitte used the words, "force local people", and Deputy Hayes used similar words. The problem is on two sides of the divide. Unfortunately, there are people in the travelling community who have adopted a militant attitude and they are not helping the situation.

    Travellers have been settled in one estate in Bray for many years without any problems and the local community has welcomed them. However, we almost had a riot in one community in Bray two nights ago because a household was attacked. The house was entered by a group of people and a woman was stripped and had her jewellery removed. It was the most extraordinary racism I have ever witnessed. The woman was from the settled community and that issue must also be addressed.

    I agree that we need to be more tolerant of diversity but we must also begin to address the problem of residents in settled estates who are disproportionately bearing the costs and consequences. Deputy Rabbitte is right in saying that everyone wants to prescribe remedies but nobody wants to bear the burden. It would be sensible to involve local communities but not from the point of view of forcing them.

    Deputy Hayes mentioned the MacGréil study with which I am familiar. However, I fault it because it comes from a particular viewpoint. I had correspondence recently with a nun in my constituency who chastised me for being critical of a particular traveller group.

    Travellers enjoy the same rights as every member of our society and we have a responsibility to vindicate their rights. However, they also have responsibilities. Sadly, too many people who argue their case are prepared to ignore the fact that when they have rights they have responsibilities. The responsibilities of citizenship are to be tolerant of all situations. The only way to be tolerant of all citizens' viewpoints is to sit around a table. There are troublesome families in the traveller and settled communities and the law should apply equally to them. We should not force local communities to face these responsibilities. Most working class estates I know have dealt with this issue more charitably and with a more Christian attitude than most of the people who preach about it. There is merit in involving local communities.

    As Deputy Hayes was making his contribution, I was speaking to the assistant county manager of Wicklow County Council. I suggested setting up a monitoring committee in Kilbride Grove in Bray where these difficulties have occurred in the past 48 hours. I wish both sides could be brought together. If a troublesome family in an estate must be ejected, it does not matter to me if it is from a traveller or a settled community. If it behaves obnoxiously, it should be ejected, irrespective of the label attached to it. We will only achieve understanding if the community is involved. Much prejudice is based on fear and the only way to deal with fear is by providing information and knowledge and by being openhanded.

    Deputy Rabbitte mentioned public officials who give undertakings and then break them. I agree that is unacceptable. That is why there is so much reaction in communities because they regard even the building of a small halt as a wedge. If an undertaking is given by a public official on the issue, it must be maintained and honoured. There is great wisdom in such a contribution.

    These three amendments deal with the composition and role of the local traveller accommodation consultative committee. The effect of amendment No. 7 would be to broaden the scope of the local consultative committee. To give full effect to the intention of the amendment, it would be necessary to include community groups on the committee. During the debate on Committee Stage an undertaken was given to reconsider the question of community representation on the local consultative committees. Further consideration has been given to the question since then, including the feasibility of giving effect to any significant change in the current representation.

    There is one aspect which continues to be most difficult to overcome, an acceptable method of selecting representatives of community groups. In considering the composition of the local committees, it is necessary to remember that their primary purpose is to facilitate consultation between local authorities and travellers to promote and increase awareness of travellers' needs and a better understanding and working relationship between them. The proposed representation has been finely balanced to ensure that no group will be effectively excluded from or dominated in any of the deliberations of the committee.

    Any adjustments to the existing ratio would have to take this balance into account. There is a real danger that the introduction of a large local community representation would adversely affect the ethos and working commitment of the committee. If a community group were to be appointed, it is considered that its representation should come from within the places reserved for members of the authority and this should not exceed two.

    The question arises as to how to select two community representatives which could reflect the range of interests involved and the number of areas concerned. The possibility of unrepresentative members being appointed was referred to on Committee Stage. For that reason it is proposed to allow the present composition of local committees to stand and rely on the elected members who are already elected on an area basis to represent all the local community interests concerned.

    It is also considered that the provision for inclusion of community groups through the prior notice of the preparation of a programme under section 8, which was passed earlier, is a more appropriate means for involving the public. The prior notification of such groups, the making available of draft programmes for public inspection, the opportunity for making submissions on the contents of a programme to the housing authority and bringing sites for caravans within the normal public notice procedures under the planning system all combine to make a comprehensive public consultative package, which Deputies must agree is a substantial improvement on the existing situation. Housing authorities will be encouraged to develop other consultation measures appropriate to local circumstances in advice and guidelines and on implementation of the Bill which will be issued following its enactment.

    Regarding Deputy Rabbitte's point, local people will be involved in the process from an early stage as a result of amendment No. 2 which has been agreed. There is also a statutory requirement to make a draft accommodation programme available for public inspection and on which the public may make submissions. As a result of recent amendments to the planning regulations, individual proposals for accommodation, including halting sites, will be subject to public notice procedures which apply to all local authority developments.

    Acting Chairman

    Deputy Hayes is allowed three interventions: to move the amendment, speak on it for two minutes and reply to it.

    They are not compulsory.

    Acting Chairman

    I know they are not, but I wanted to alert the Deputy to his rights.

    Mr. Hayes

    I will reply to this amendment in two minutes. Amendment 2 deals with sending out the plan to residents' groups. It does not deal with direct consultation and it was unfair of the Minister of State to make that comment in response to the point raised by Deputy Rabbitte. It is a try-on for the Minister of State to suggest that local authority members can stand down in favour of residents and communities. We do not accept that. That is a diminution of the status of a local authority member. Local authority members represent all the community, not only the settled community and, by implication, it would be unwise to go down that road.

    The other argument put forward was that a local authority cannot agree to a composition of local residents. We agreed in South Dublin to have three representatives of local residents. Such a decision can be agreed. A national organisation such as ACRA or another national residents' association could be used, particularly in a climate when legislation will be introduced in the next 12 months to give effect to SPCs, which have a large community component. A decision on this can be made if there is a will to do so. We do not accept the arguments put forward by the Minister of State and I will press my amendments. I welcomed the intervention of Deputy Roche and I look forward to seeing him shortly.

    Amendment put and declared lost.

    Mr. Hayes

    I move amendment No. 8:

    In page 17, between lines 5 and 6, to insert the following:

    "(e) representatives of local communities and residents' organisations,".

    Question put.
    The Dáil divided: Tá, 60; Níl, 74.
    Amendment declared lost.

    Níl

    Ahern, Bertie.

    Ardagh, Seán

    Ahern, Dermot.

    Aylward, Liam.

    Ahern, Michael.

    Blaney, Harry.

    Ahern, Noel.

    Brady, Johnny.

    Andrews, David.

    Brady, Martin.

    Brennan, Matt.

    Kirk, Séamus.

    Brennan, Séamus.

    Kitt, Michael.

    Briscoe, Ben.

    Kitt, Tom.

    Browne, John (Wexford).

    Lawlor, Liam.

    Byrne, Hugh.

    Lenihan, Brian.

    Callely, Ivor.

    Martin, Micheál.

    Carey, Pat.

    McDaid, James.

    Collins, Michael.

    McGennis, Marian.

    Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.

    McGuinness, John.

    Coughlan, Mary.

    Moloney, John.

    Cowen, Brian.

    Moynihan, Donal.

    Cullen, Martin.

    Moynihan, Michael.

    Daly, Brendan.

    Ó Cuív, Éamon.

    Davern, Noel.

    O'Dea, Willie.

    de Valera, Síle.

    O'Donnell, Liz.

    Dempsey, Noel.

    O'Donoghue, John.

    Dennehy, John.

    O'Flynn, Noel.

    Doherty, Seán

    O'Hanlon, Rory.

    Ellis, John.

    O'Keeffe, Ned.

    Fahey, Frank.

    O'Rourke, Mary.

    Fleming, Seán

    Power, Seán

    Flood, Chris.

    Roche, Dick.

    Foley, Denis.

    Ryan, Eoin.

    Fox, Mildred.

    Smith, Brendan.

    Hanafin, Mary.

    Smith, Michael.

    Harney, Mary.

    Treacy, Noel.

    Haughey, Seán

    Wade, Eddie.

    Healy-Rae, Jackie.

    Wallace, Dan.

    Jacob, Joe.

    Wallace, Mary.

    Kelleher, Billy.

    Walsh, Joe.

    Kenneally, Brendan.

    Woods, Michael.

    Killeen, Tony.

    Wright, G. V.

    Debate adjourned.
    Sitting suspended at 1.42 p.m and resumed at 2.30 p.m.