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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 23 Apr 2015

Vol. 875 No. 3

Other Questions

Local Authority Housing

Bernard Durkan


6. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the extent to which the various local authorities have made overtures to his Department seeking funding in respect of local authority housing; the number of housing units acquired to date on foot of this initiative in County Kildare and other counties adjacent to Dublin; the extent to which new applications for housing, or indications of homelessness, are being received by the relevant local authorities; if he is satisfied that the measures taken to date are adequate to deal with the situation which arose as a result of a lack of provision for direct build local authority houses, and through the local authority loans fund, over many years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15683/15]

This question attempts to ascertain the extent to which the various local authorities in the greater Dublin area, including the adjacent counties, have had contact with the Department with a view to identifying the degree to which they propose to be able to activate the housing programme in the shortest possible time.

As the Deputy is well aware, I announced delivery targets under the social housing strategy for all local authorities which took into account proposals submitted by the local authorities themselves for the delivery of units for the period 2015 to 2017. It is important to stress that every local authority, including the Deputy's local authority, had to put forward their own proposals. They were best positioned to evaluate what was necessary in Kildare, or in Dublin or elsewhere, so they put forward their own submissions. These new proposals are being assessed by my Department and I expect, as the Minister of State, Deputy Coffey, said, to make announcements very soon on projects to be advanced across the country and to be doing that continually for the rest of my time in this Department as projects are rolled out. I am fully committed to ensuring that this is done in the speediest fashion possible.

The scale of ambition represented in these targets and the accompanying funding allocations illustrate that housing is the highest priority for Government. Over €1.5 billion is to be invested in a combination of building, buying and leasing schemes which will, when completed, accommodate an average of 25% of those on local authority waiting lists. That varies depending on the scale of the lists across the local authorities.

Details of all social housing units acquired or developed by local authorities to date, including Kildare, are published on my Department’s website, as are quarterly and monthly reports on homelessness which are provided by housing authorities through the pathway accommodation and support system. Information on housing applications is captured in the statutory assessment of housing need, which was last carried out in 2013 and which indicated almost 90,000 households on local authority housing lists nationally. Under the reforms proposed in the social housing strategy, and I believe every Deputy will welcome this, it is my intention that housing needs assessments will be carried out on an annual basis because we need this information much quicker and rather than doing it on a biannual basis or every two or three years, we will be doing that every single year.

I thank the Minister for the comprehensive reply. Given that there are almost 7,000 families on the waiting list in County Kildare, does he believe that the indications, based on the information to date, are that it will be possible to meet the most urgent cases, namely, those who are homeless and those likely to become homeless in the near future, within a reasonable time?

The answer to that question is "Yes". We have worked with every local authority, including the local authority in the Deputy's constituency, to ensure that what they have requested is being prioritised. We are working with the local authorities on that and are being as flexible as we can to help sign off on projects that can be turned around as quickly as possible, whether that be new builds or where there is an excess of voids. It is clear to us that every local authority has unique circumstances be it an excess of voids as is the case in some local authorities or where, in fairness, local authorities have aggregated land for new builds, done the planning etc.

Regarding the local authority in the Deputy's constituency with which I am quite familiar, the priorities indicated by him and other Deputies from the area will be met, particularly in terms of those in a vulnerable situation. There are particular challenges in regard to Kildare, given that it is in the conurbation around Dublin. I am satisfied that in the past year in particular the Kildare local authority has ramped up in terms of everything it needs to do from a resource, planning and delivery point of view to hit the targets we set it, particularly with regard to vulnerable people because like other local authorities around Dublin, it has specific issues.

I agree with the current approach given that for many years nothing was happening in the housing area. Will it be possible to monitor on a monthly basis the extent to which progress is being made in those counties most severely affected by a shortage of housing and an excessive number of people on the local authority housing lists? To what extent can he do that and reassure people on those waiting lists that help is approaching?

I am happy the Deputy asked that question because I want to outline to the House the level of management the Department is putting into this as it is such an important issue. All the local authority housing managers and directors are currently meeting with my Department. That is the level of seriousness with which we are taking this issue. Yesterday, myself and the Minister of State, Deputy Coffey, chaired the social housing oversight group which meets every month to ensure that everything is happening in that regard. Also, a meeting is taking place this week with the approved housing bodies.

We have targets, and measures to judge those targets. They are checked on a weekly and monthly basis. We have zoned in on pressure areas in particular. We have heat mapped the country. We have identified the absolute priorities in regard to housing and we will concentrate on those in particular. For instance, as regards housing in Dublin, a meeting takes place at 9 o'clock every Monday morning involving the Dublin task force and Dublin City Council. That is the priority our Department is giving this issue.

On Question No. 7, the Deputy is not present so it will be replied to with Written Answers.

Question No. 7 replied to with Written Answers.

Homeless Persons Supports

Terence Flanagan


8. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his plans to end long-term homelessness by 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15560/15]

This is a straightforward question to the Minister about ending homelessness. The programme for Government states that 2016 will be the year that will be attained. Is that realistic now considering the crisis in the housing market?

I thank the Deputy for his question. The long-term solution to homelessness is to increase the supply of homes, particularly in terms of social housing. In November 2014, I launched the Government’s Social Housing Strategy: 2020. This is a six-year strategy which is intended to deliver over 110,000 social housing tenancies through the provision of 35,000 new social housing units, at a cost of €3.8 billion, and we have been able to increase that amount, and by meeting the housing needs of some 75,000 households through the housing assistance payment and the rental accommodation schemes.

I am committed to addressing the issue of homelessness. As the Deputy will be aware, I hosted a special summit last December, involving all the relevant bodies, groups and organisations, which resulted in a comprehensive action plan. A range of measures are being taken to secure a ring-fenced supply of accommodation to house homeless households and mobilise the necessary supports in order to deliver on the Government's target of ending involuntary long-term homelessness by the end of 2016. All of the measures are set out in the Government's implementation plan on the State's response to homelessness of May 2014 and in the action plan to address homelessness of December 2014. Progress in implementing these plans is reported to the Cabinet Committee on Social Policy and Public Service Reform, which meets regularly. It is an absolute top priority of that committee. The plans and progress reports are also available on my Department's website.

On a personal basis, the issue of homelessness is an absolute priority for me, the Minister of State, Deputy Coffey, and our Department. We will continue to examine whatever measures are necessary to help and facilitate local authorities and other agencies deal with this important and human issue. However, we need co-operation from many different quarters in order to do that.

I thank the Minister for his response. This issue was raised recently during Leaders' Questions by Deputy Ó Cuív. The Simon Community has said that in its history the crisis has never been as bad, particularly in Dublin. In the programme for Government, there is a commitment to ending long-term homelessness for families and the need to sleep rough. The tragic case of poor Jonathan Corrie last December, which happened just outside the Dáil, was shocking. That sparked an impetus and a focus to deal with this issue. However, until the Government directly deals with the supply issue and brings more social housing on line, it will have extreme difficulty in dealing with the issue. Is there an initiative to stop soaring rents which are resulting in an increase in the number of people facing homelessness? For instance, is the Minister considering providing tax relief to landlords so that they accept people in receipt of rent supplement?

I respect the sincerity in which the Deputy asks this question. I have always said, and I wish to be fair to Deputies across the Chamber who have worked with me on it, that this issue is above political to-ing and fro-ing. Many measures are being taken and examined. We are constantly examining other ways in which we can facilitate. We listed 80 actions and implemented them before Christmas and this had a huge impact. We said we would create more emergency accommodation and we did so, in fact we created more, and it has been taken up. We have a protocol with the Department of Social Protection on rent supplement and many tenancies have been maintained as a result of interventions by Threshold. The Private Residential Tenancies Board, PRTB, is currently tendering for a tenants' rights promotion programme. The housing assistance payment, HAP, is being rolled out for homeless people in Dublin. We have worked with NAMA.

I thank the Minister.

We have delivered quicker on voids. We are looking at other measures, including rent. They are being concluded or are being examined at the moment. I also wish to repeat something to the Deputy.

I will let the Minister back in.

As the Minister responsible, I need co-operation from many different areas, in particular, from politicians. A number of measures I announced have been welcomed and implemented and have had huge dramatic impacts.

I thank the Minister.

However, I need local authorities, in particular, to play ball on this.

The Minister is way over time. I call Deputy Terence Flanagan.

As the Minister knows, 1,000 families and children are living in hotels at the moment. That is a major issue and a crisis that needs to be tackled. Does the Minister see himself achieving the target of ending long-term homelessness by 2016?

There are issues relating to people who will not accept help. When do the authorities step in? In my constituency, there is a young man who has mental health issues. He is not accepting help from the authorities, such as the HSE and psychiatry professionals. He is gradually deteriorating and it is heartbreaking to see it. What changes can be made in that area? Will the Minister look at this issue?

It is our ambition to meet our targets in respect of ending involuntary long-term homelessness. I will deal with two issues in the short time available to me. First, to conclude my earlier point, I need the co-operation of local authorities. In some cases, that has not been forthcoming. Given its role in the refurbishment of certain apartments in O'Devaney Gardens, Dublin City Council has been tasked with finding immediate replacements, which it must have by next week. This is absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, in this country we are still suffering a little from NIMBY-ism in respect of this issue. I was very surprised with the decision. Having said that, I respect the decision of the elected representatives.

I do not have much time remaining but Deputy Terence Flanagan is correct on the second point. We have met all the different social agencies in respect of helping people who will not accept help. It is quite a difficult thing. Professional people are involved, but intervention mechanisms have to be judged. Sometimes people will not accept help and that is why we established the night bus service and the night café. Some people will not take emergency accommodation. That is true. We have to respect people's civil and human rights, but there is a pendulum. When the HSE and other agencies should intervene is something I leave to the professionals. I listen to people like Alice Leahy of TRUST, who I consider to be an authority on these issues. In some cases, it is a very delicate operation, but they do their best. Do they get everything right? It is almost an impossible situation, but they do their best.

Island Communities

Éamon Ó Cuív


9. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the amount of funding transferred to the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht for the provision of services on non-Gaeltacht islands by development companies; the reduction in this funding relative to the funding provided for the same period last year; the reason for this reduction; if an agreement was made with the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht before the responsibility was transferred to that Department as to which Department would make up the shortfall; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15673/15]

Some eight non-Gaeltacht islands depend on funding from the Government for their community development companies that act as the development agencies and the interface with the State for the islanders on the islands. The money was transferred from the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government to the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Somewhere in the transfer, €97,000, which is a drop in the ocean in State funding, has been cut from the island funding. Can the Minister explain how much money he transferred and whether he had a prior arrangement with the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht that it would make up any shortfall in the funding transferred?

I assure Deputy Ó Cuív that the islands outside the Gaeltacht islands are of huge importance to me. My Department’s local and community development programme, LCDP, concluded on 31 March 2015 and the new social inclusion and community activation programme, SICAP, was rolled out across communities on 1 April 2015.

During 2014, €527,000 was provided to Comhar na nOileán, the local development company for the islands, for the delivery of the LCDP to offshore islands. As the Deputy will be aware, SICAP was subject to a public procurement process and Comhar na nOileán did not win funding under the SICAP procurement process similar to the funding it received under the LCDP.

We recognise the status of island communities and a revised scheme to support the non-Gaeltacht islands has been agreed between my Department and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. For the avoidance of doubt, this is a new scheme and does not involve the transfer of responsibility of any function from my Department. I am advised that the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht will now commence an engagement process with island communities in respect of this new scheme.

Funding of €516,463 is being provided to island communities for community development purposes in 2015. This includes €460,481 directly to Comhar na nOileán, €268,958 of which will be disbursed by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht under a new scheme, and €55,982 directly to islands under SICAP in respect of the Mayo and Cork islands. This amount does not take account of funding to other inhabited islands under the Galway county SICAP lot, the north Kerry SICAP lot and the Donegal Gaeltacht SICAP lot. Any additional funding for the new islands scheme will be a matter for the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to address as the lead Department for islands. To help inform himself about the situation, the Deputy could put a parliamentary question to the Minister of State, Deputy McHugh.

The Minister of State's answer is a marvellous job of obfuscation. Last year, the community development companies received €527,000. I refer to the companies, not SICAP or LCDP. Some €131,000 was given during the first three months of the year. Instead of transferring €397,000, the Minister's Department transferred €300,000 and nicked €97,000. Was a transfer of €300,000 made to the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to facilitate the start of the new scheme? Why was it not €397,000 so the same money could be given to the island development companies this year as last year? In 2013, the Government cut those companies' funding by 9.7%.

I am not sure to what the Deputy refers when he suggests that I "nicked" a certain amount of money on the islands. The Deputy does not have the monopoly on concern for the islands.

I am also very concerned about the islands.

Then do something.

I have met the island people and I understand their concerns. Perhaps the Deputy will want to return to the Government's policy of alignment whereby the islands are being looked after by the local authority. I direct the Deputy's attention again to the fact that the Government is providing over €460,000 directly to Comhar na nOileán, over €260,000 of which will be disbursed by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. I implore the Deputy to put a question to the Minister of State, Deputy McHugh. More than €55,000 is being provided directly to the islands under SICAP in respect of the Mayo and Cork islands, not including Galway county SICAP, north Kerry SICAP and Donegal Gaeltacht SICAP. I do not understand how the Deputy can suggest that we are not concerned about the islands.

We are way over time on this question. Other Deputies are waiting to ask their questions. If I call time, please respect it. There is a limit.

If the Minister of State would sit down with the managers of the development companies, they would tell her the situation is simple. Last year, they had €527,000 to run the companies. This year, it has been cut by €97,000 somewhere between the Minister of State transferring money from the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government to the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. I have checked this out, and it has been verified by both Departments. There has been a 24% cut in the amount of money to run the companies on Clare Island, Inishturk and Inishbofin and to the five islands in County Cork that receive the services from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The Minister of State expects them to run the same service for 24% less, having been affected by a cut of 9.5% in 2013. It is unfair and unsustainable, and if the Ministers care about the islands, they will put back the €100,000 between them.

My focus is on delivering front-line services to the communities. In order to achieve efficiencies, there was a co-ordinated approach to local development in the context of county, regional and national planning, and this is the road along which we are proceeding. The islands will also be looked after in this context. The Deputy does not have the monopoly on concern for the islands. I am also concerned, as are my Department and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Electoral Reform

David Stanton


10. Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he has considered making alterations to the layout of ballot papers for the upcoming by-election; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15738/15]

I am tabling the question because it is important that we have a system whereby the ballot papers are not designed in such a way as to mislead people or cause them to vote in a way they might not have intended. I have raised the issue on several occasions. The design of the ballot papers is very important. I am curious to know whether what I mentioned in the past has been considered by the Department, Minister and officials and whether there is any response to it.

Provisions for the layout of the ballot paper for Dáil elections are set out in section 88 of the Electoral Act 1992, as amended. Over the years, many suggestions have been made for change to the format and layout of ballot papers. These include blacking or shading the empty emblem box for non–party candidates and the use of the word "independent" instead of "non-party". The Convention on the Constitution, in its fourth report, recommended changing the alphabetic order of candidates. We have been down this road before. The proposed electoral commission will be asked to give further consideration to the proposal, as the Deputy may be aware. I have published a consultation paper on the establishment of an electoral commission and it is currently the subject of a process of consultation, under the aegis of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht, which I expect to report to me.

Everybody in the House has an opinion on this matter. I am not sure if there is an absolute right or wrong. I have no plans to alter the layout of the ballot paper in advance of the by-election. The Deputy has expressed his views on this before, and if we receive some initial thoughts on it, we may consider something before the forthcoming general election. However, I am loth to change the ballot paper unless I see some real, qualified justification for doing so. To date, we have heard various different opinions. It is through the commission that we will get the solution to this issue, if changes are necessary at all.

I thank the Minister for his response and I welcome the fact that the commission is to be established shortly. People read from left to right, and the Minister mentioned the idea of blanking out the space or putting some sort of independent logo on the ballot paper. In the left hand column of the ballot paper, the party logos are displayed beside the party candidates, while the space beside the independent candidates is blank and I have observed over many elections that people vote in the column on the left. They start off by giving their No. 1 vote to an independent candidate and then keep going in that column. Thus, candidates who are affiliated to a party are at a disadvantage. It would be very simple to rectify this in the by-election and from then on. I have seen hundreds of ballot papers marked in this way. Party members are immediately disadvantaged, given that people read from left to right. It is a very simple matter. I was amazed, and I raised it after the local elections when I first noticed it. Hundreds of ballot papers were marked in that way. I would be interested in the Minister's response.

The Deputy has raised a number of issues and this is one. I will examine it. The Deputy and others, who take a keen interest in this, as we all should, have raised several issues.

It is a valid argument and it is something we will be able to deal with over time. I must take some advice on it, particularly legal advice, but at this juncture it is something I would consider favourably.

I am delighted to hear that the Minister will do that. I take it that the ballot papers for the by-election have not been printed yet, so there might be time to act beforehand and deal with this anomaly. In our system of the single transferable vote a small difference such as that can make a massive difference to the result. The eighth, ninth and tenth preference can affect the outcome of an election. I have seen hundreds of these papers marked in that way. I have raised this previously and I am very frustrated that it has not yet been rectified. However, I am pleased that the Minister has decided to examine this. It should be done before the by-election, as the papers are not printed yet. The Minister could get it done by issuing an instruction that an X, a black mark or something be put there. Members of Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the Labour Party or any other party with a logo are at a disadvantage because of this. It is a small issue, but it can have a big outcome.

The Deputy makes a valid point and we will certainly examine it. I cannot commit to getting it done before the by-election, although I will see if it is possible. We will take advice on the matter and revert to the Deputy and the House. However, the issue is validly put and must be seriously examined.

Housing Data

Barry Cowen


11. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide an update on the measures being taken to improve the mismatch between housing supply and demand in Dublin, particularly regarding the availability of zoned land; if he will provide assurances that the figures published by his Department on the number of units which can be built on zoned land are evidence-based and correct; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15768/15]

As the Minister saw this morning - obviously, it is not the first time it has been highlighted - housing provision is a major issue. In fact, it is a crisis. I spoke to somebody from the Simon Community about the situation in Dublin. He said that when he was speaking to housing officials in Dublin City Council he saw the whites of their eyes and the solid fear in coming to terms with how they might deal with this issue into the future. It is about empowering local authorities and also the private sector to ensure there is housing provision.

I am conscious of the correspondence between the Minister's Department and the Department of Finance-----

The Deputy must conclude.

-----in which the word "spinning" is used, and the difference between the advertised figure of 46,000 housing units and the actual figure of 30,000, taking into account planning permission and zoning. I have received correspondence from the Secretary General in the Minister's Department-----

You can put a further question shortly.

-----and I ask the Minister to expand on that issue, his reaction to it and his thoughts on the matter, considering that much of what the Minister brought forward was based on that information.

Planning is one of my areas of responsibility. The Deputy referred to the word "spinning". It has been clarified to the Deputy by the Secretary General of the Department that it was an inappropriate and ill-advised comment between officials in the Department of Finance and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.

The Deputy's question is very relevant and topical. As has been said already this morning, it is critical to address the housing supply issues in Dublin in particular and also throughout the country. The construction sector is recovering from the worst blow it has ever experienced. Construction is only contributing approximately 6% of GNP when it should be contributing 12%. We are working towards a normalised construction sector to increase the supply of housing through the Construction 2020 and social housing strategies. A sum of €4 billion is committed to the social housing strategy up to 2020. The Government is also working on initiatives to increase the supply of houses in the private sector. I intend to bring a planning Bill before the House shortly that will help to stimulate and incentivise further housing contributions from the private sector.

The Deputy asks about the measures taken and the figures published by the Department. As part of the Construction 2020 strategy the Department established the Dublin housing supply and co-ordination task force, which includes the CEOs of the four local authorities, with the support of the Housing Agency. One of the first actions of the task force was to analyse the stock of planning permissions and zoned land for housing developments in Dublin. Its first report was published in June 2014. Across the four Dublin local authorities, planning permissions are in place for the immediate development of approximately 21,000 housing units. The permissions are unconstrained. An additional 25,500 new homes are considered permissible in the immediate to short term on lands zoned and available for development but which do not currently have the benefit of planning permission. These published figures were presented by the Dublin task force and are supported by the Housing Agency.

The Minister referred to the correspondence I received from the Secretary General and the clarification that was given. It is appropriate that I put an excerpt from that on the public record. The Secretary General stated that in the context of the engagement taking place on this issue, the intent of the Department official's comments would have been understood by the recipients of the e-mail, but that the use of the word "spinning" rather than language such as "highlighting" or "indicating" when referring to public statements regarding the sufficiency in the medium term of land zoned in Dublin was both inappropriate and ill advised, and clearly open to different interpretations. He apologised for that on behalf of the Department. I accept that apology.

I again ask the Minister to respond to the House and to those on housing waiting lists, those who have no opportunity to purchase a home and those who have no access to the mortgage interest rates that should be available to them just as they are to their European counterparts. Have we learned nothing from what happened previously with respect to the housing bubble that is growing daily and a crisis that is evolving into a calamity? Can the Minister confirm that the figures being provided by the Department regarding the amount of zoned lands available to be built on this year are proper and correct?

The reference from the e-mail mentioned by the Deputy has been acknowledged by the Secretary General, and he has apologised and stated that it was inappropriate. However, I again refer the Deputy to the facts presented by the Dublin housing supply and co-ordination task force and supported by the Housing Agency. We are emerging from a legacy of a devastated economy and construction sector, with house building having been essentially wiped out in this country for a number of years. Now we must get it back to sustainable levels through the Construction 2020 strategy, supported by analysis and research from the Housing Agency, by the Dublin task force and by proper planning regulation, which will be further enhanced by the forthcoming planning Bill. We are working towards having a sustainable sector, not one that will go through boom and bust, as was the case in the past, but one that will contribute to our economy in a sustainable manner, supply houses where they are most needed and build the right types of house in the right places. The data on the Dublin housing supply that has been published is the most recent and up-to-date information available.

I thank the Minister for that further clarification. I await with interest the incentives, initiatives and means by which he will seek to encourage more house building in the near future. I will make a number of suggestions in that regard over next weekend and I hope he will listen to and take cognisance of them. They will be the result of much research and reflection on what happened in the past, and we should learn from that with a view to dealing with the immediacy of the current situation. I again impress on the Minister and his colleagues that the only way we can address this crisis is by lifting the rent cap to deal with the immediate problem of those who find themselves in a precarious situation in respect of their lease. Others are in a precarious situation by virtue of the fact that two years ago the Government allowed banks to have a veto on solutions to mortgage arrears issues.

Thank you, Deputy.

I expect the Minister not only to address that issue but also to apologise. Many Members of the Opposition advised against that policy, and we now find we must deal with the mess that has arisen as a result.

Please, Deputy.

I urge the Government to lift the rent cap and to commit itself to building homes.

The Deputy must adhere to the Chair's rulings.

Local authorities have been left behind with regard to making suggestions because of the many planning permissions that have not been allowed to be explored.

The Minister has only ten seconds.

I wish the Deputy well at the weekend. I hope he and his party will reflect on the damage that has been done to this economy due to the policies that were implemented over the last ten or 20 years in housing and construction. I am open to listening to any positive proposals the Deputy might make.

I think they will have a further opportunity to engage with these issues in the context of forthcoming planning Bills. I will certainly have an open mind if they can come forward with positive and sustainable housing proposals. Before we get back to the urban sprawl and building on greenfield sites, can I just say-----

No, you cannot, really, because we are over time.

-----that the focus should go back to urban regeneration, maximising the use of existing public infrastructure and rebuilding the inner cities, towns and villages of our country?

I urge all Deputies, local authorities and councillors to focus on bringing the vitality back to our towns, villages and cities.

Written Answers follow Adjournment.