I thank the Ceann Comhairle's office for allowing me to raise the issue of unfinished housing estates and the non-engagement of the National Asset Management Agency, NAMA, with the planning authorities in resolving site issues. NAMA has been mentioned several times in the House today. As an institution, it seems to have an impact on all aspects of life in the country. I have been invited to residents' meetings at which I have been alarmed to discover that where NAMA is a stakeholder, it is apparently refusing to discuss its role with local authorities and residents in reaching solutions which will ensure the satisfactory completion of unfinished housing developments.
The attitude seems to be that because NAMA is a bank, it has no resources to deal with aspects of its business outside that banking role. I accept there is a rationale for this. However, it is not a satisfactory outcome for the many who invested their life savings in their home and are now living in unfinished housing estates. What about the aspirations for co-operation contained in the report of the Government's advisory group on unfinished housing developments published last May? In the section, Partnership Approach with Residents, the report states:
Many unfinished developments are having a serious impact on the living environment of residents. These developments also impact on the wider community, society and the economy. The primary objective of addressing unfinished developments should be to address the needs of residents.
The advisory group considers it imperative that stakeholders work together and co-ordinate their efforts to resolve problems associated with unfinished housing estates. It also believes that local authorities, developers, site owners, financial institutions and approved housing bodies should ensure that, where possible, residents are directly and centrally involved in resolving problems. Progress can be made where the various stakeholders work with residents and use their collective resources. All those involved should work in a co-operative and pragmatic way.
Many of the residents with whom I have spoken are in despair. They have had enough. Some unfinished housing estates are being used for criminal activity, including as hide-outs and for the sale of drugs. Every effort must be made to ensure those living in unfinished housing developments can live peacefully in their homes. The first priority is to ensure that unfinished housing developments are secured to reduce the safety risks to residents and members of the public. In this regard, residents appreciate the recent efforts by Government through the provision of scarce resources to make safe a number of sites around the country.
Residents are entitled to their rights. I ask that the Government instruct NAMA to engage with residents in compiling site resolution plans, as recommended by the advisory group.