Courts Bill 2016: Report and Final Stages

Amendments Nos. 1 to 3, inclusive, are related and may be taken together.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 4. line 6, to delete "passing of this Act" and substitute "commencement of this section".

The Minister has tabled these amendments as a consequence of the deletion of sections 1 to 3, inclusive. These sections had been drafted to deal with the implications of the Court of Appeal ruling in the Langan case. The Bill, as initiated, was intended to come into effect on enactment and, therefore, there was no commencement provision. As I indicated on Second Stage, it was intended that enactment of the Bill would coincide with commencement by the Minister of the market value provisions in the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004. However, following deletion of sections 1 to 3, inclusive, there is no longer a pressing need for the 2004 Act provisions to come into effect at the same time as this legislation. The purpose of amendment No. 3 is to insert a commencement provision in section 2. The Minister's intention is to allow a short interval between enactment of the legislation and the commencement of section 2 together with the relevant provisions of the 2004 Act. This will facilitate notification of the courts and practitioners of the new market value thresholds before they come into effect. Amendments Nos. 1 and 2 are consequential amendments which replace references to "passing of this Act" with "commencement of this section".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 4, line 32, to delete "passing of this Act" and substitute "commencement of this section".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 5, between lines 8 and 9, to insert the following:

"(4) This section shall come into operation on such day as the Minister for Justice and Equality may by order appoint.".

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 4 to 6, inclusive, are also related and may be taken together.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 5, line 34, to delete "in."." and substitute the following:

"in.

(2B) In any proceedings brought by a mortgagee seeking an order for repossession of land which is the principal private residence of a mortgagor or principal primary residence of a tenant of the mortgagor, the court shall—

(a) adjourn proceedings for a period of at least 12 months,

(b) arrange for the mortgagor to consult with a Personal Insolvency practitioner if they have not already done so,

(c) allow the mortgagor produce a proposal for a personal insolvency arrangement under the Personal Insolvency Act 2012, with the explicit purpose of insuring the viability of remaining in the principal primary residence,

(d) instruct the mortgagee to abide by the full terms of any tenancy agreement in place with respect to the property and for the mortgagee to assume the full responsibility of the landlord as stipulated in that tenancy agreement.".".

This is not just a technical Bill that contains an interim measure to permit cases involving land disputes to be taken in the Circuit Court. Currently, the law is that the rateable value of land determines which court a dispute goes to. I do not accept this is a technical Bill, which has no implications for evictions down the road. Some people argue this is the wrong place for the amendments I have tabled. It would be wrong of us not to use any legislation that comes before the House to deal with the most pressing issue we, as a country, face, which is the housing crisis and the threat that lies over the heads of many of our citizens of an uncertain future in respect of a basic human need and a basic human right, which is the right to a home and to shelter. It is entirely appropriate that any legislation that deals with the mechanisms of court proceedings should address the tsunami of repossession orders and subsequent evictions that are before the courts and that will come before the courts in the short term.

My amendments seek, with no apology to legal niceties, to delay institutions from evicting families. They place a command on the courts to follow a procedure that would keep people in their homes until other measures can be taken to stop evictions and the threat of homelessness that hangs over them just before Christmas and beyond. They seek to stop vulture funds and those who have acquired bad debts from evicting tenants who may have never missed a rent payment in their lives but who find themselves caught in the crossfire of big finance and corporate greed. We have to do more and use every opportunity that we can to throw roadblocks and delays in the way of evictions.

The response of the Government to the unfolding crisis has been absolutely pathetic. The measures it has brought in are aimed only at incentivising developers and facilitating corporate landlords. Curiously, while our amendments have been attacked for being inappropriate to a Bill that is just "a technical Bill to ensure efficiency in the courts", the Minister has inserted a provision relating to the Planning and Development Act, which is the subject of two or more amending Bills, with the primary purpose of boosting developers' profits and ensuring landlords continue to reap the benefits of the rental crisis. This is another provision proposed to ease the burden on developers by ensuring changes to strategic development zone, SDZ, planning are not hindered or delayed by subsequent alterations to the SDZ. It is telling that while nothing should get in the way of feeding frenzy for developers, the Government is slow to adopt anything that might help those facing evictions or homelessness.

I refer to the figures. More than 33,000 home owners are in arrears on buy-to-let dwellings while more than 104,000 people are in arrears on their principal private residence. Most evictions are taking place in the private rental sector and more than 30,000 people in mortgage arrears of more than two years could also be evicted. A total of 1,135 possession orders were made by the courts in the first nine months of 2015, a dramatic 70% increase on the number in 2014. Although this is described as a technical Bill mostly related to land valuation, the amendments provide an opportunity to address the most serious issue the country faces. All Members should take the opportunity to table amendments that will halt, slow down or stop evictions faced by thousands of families. If the Government wants to do anything for our citizens coming up to Christmas, this is the least it could do. I reiterate it is curious that a provision has been inserted to ensure SDZs do not have to go through the planning process, even though this is supposed to be a technical Bill relating to land valuation. I commend the amendments to the House.

I have tabled amendment No. 5, the first paragraph of which encapsulates its intent. It states,"Dáil Éireann formally declares that a housing emergency exists in the State and while this emergency continues the right of any person to remain in the dwelling in which the person currently resides will take precedence over any property right of any other person", and there are actions flowing from that. Fundamentally, the greatest issue facing the country now and for some time to come is the housing emergency. The Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government told the Irish Examiner last May that he accepted there is a housing emergency. This is clear to the thousands of people who are homeless currently. A total of 6,847 people are homeless, of whom 2,470 are children. According to figures published yesterday, 420 families lost their homes over the past three months, which equates to four a day.

Many of them are forced by banks and building societies to hand back their homes, the homes of others are being repossessed. The Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government accepts, and is quoted publicly as saying, that there is a housing emergency. I heard the Tánaiste acknowledge that in the House a fortnight ago. We need to take real action to ensure that those people who face the ultimate trauma of losing the roof over their heads are protected. It is essential and urgent that this Dáil formally declare a housing emergency in order to ensure a halt to evictions, to impose a rent freeze, to ensure that private property rights are made subject to the common good and to see to it that the right of individuals and families to remain in their homes supersedes the right to private property.

This Government declared a financial emergency and introduced legislation to cut the pay and pensions of public servants. It renewed that emergency on 30 June last. There is major trauma and daily evictions. We need to ensure that families facing homelessness, through no fault of their own, are protected and have a roof over their heads this Christmas. The formal declaration of a housing emergency is an absolute necessity. The Taoiseach has written to the European Commission on this issue. While we have not declared a housing emergency, the Commission will not take that request seriously. There has been no response to the request. The Commission needs to know the problems in this country with people living in tents, hostels and hotels. Focus Ireland tells us that 20 families and 40 children are made homeless per month. Recent figures from the Central Statistics Office, CSO, show that there are more than 14,500 buy-to-let properties in arrears of more than two years. Unfortunately, whether the tenants in those properties know it or not they face eviction. Most of the families made homeless in the past 12 months were renting buy-to-let properties whose landlords were forced to sell by the banks. That practice needs to be stopped.

This situation developed as a result of the privatisation of the public housing programme in the early 2000s by a Fianna Fáil Government. I was a member of South Tipperary County Council at the time and when that was announced at our housing meeting, I said it would give rise to huge problems. We need a large quantity of local authority public housing for our citizens. In the 1970s we were able to build up to 10,000 local authority houses each year and we need to get back to that level. The Minister and the Government are simply tinkering around the edges. We need to declare a housing emergency in order to ensure that every citizen and family has the right to a roof over their heads this Christmas. The repossessions, which remind us of the battering rams used down the centuries in this country, need to be stopped.

I, too, believe that the Government is making continual efforts to untangle the blockages in the courts. Those blockages are there because many people have been fighting lone battles against the might of the banks and not getting a fair hearing in many courts. They have experienced terrible trauma. I and other Oireachtas Members have attended many court hearings with families. I was in the court in Waterford where there was a huge Garda presence to stop people attending. Those families who could not afford the legal eagles had advocates with them who were sometimes disallowed and removed. We saw some very ugly scenes.

We must be reflective. We must realise where we have come from and the mess we have got into. We must see how the banks have been bailed out and how we were led up the garden path. I certainly was and so was the former Minister for Finance, the late Brian Lenihan Jnr. Our grandchildren will be paying back the banks' debts while the bondholders got off scot free. Some legislation, including the land and conveyancing legislation, allowed the lending institutions to do what they liked with people and families. Each day, the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government considers various actions but the basic problem is the inaction of this Legislature in respect of the banks and the courts. Sadly, the courts do not serve the people. When the Circuit Court in South Tipperary handed down judgments that treated people mercilessly, it was held up by the good activities of certain people, including those involved with the modern Land League. Now we are trying to circumvent that again to let them carry on with their merciless campaign of evictions. Such evictions create homelessness. No matter what we do in this House or what the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government announces or what rent caps he brings in for Dublin, Cork and other places, we are playing catch-up.

The real problem is the 200,000 homes that are lined up for the families in them to be evicted. The buy-to-lets are also a problem. I do not understand why the Government cannot see the problems and deal with them.

I support amendments Nos. 4, 5 and 6 because they are very good amendments and I compliment the proposers on tabling them. They are very necessary, though I know they will probably not succeed. We must stand up for our people. After the past we have had in this country with the horrors of the Famine and all the different situations after that, we now have a modern democracy, or so we are told, in which the banks control us and twist us by the tail. It is quite hollow, shallow and very wrong. There is trauma, distress, sickness and fear inflicted on families. It is divide and conquer. It is a case of our people being downtrodden.

There are attempts being made in some cases to provide some legal fees to help families. It does not matter whether a person can pay legal fees after he or she has been evicted because it is often difficult to get lawyers and legal people to represent the evicted parties. In some courts, a person cannot even hear what is going on. I was in a court when a woman was taken from Cork Prison to the Four Courts to sit in the front row. An advocate was disallowed to speak on her behalf, though she was not able to stand not to mind speak with the fear, terror and trauma of being incarcerated and put out of her home. We should all take trips to the courts to see what is going on. I know that my honourable colleague beside me, Deputy Jim O'Callaghan, is probably used to the courts but many ordinary people are not. Justice has to be seen to be done as well as be done. Justice has to be heard, but it is not. On that particular occasion, I had to go right from the back of the court towards the front, seat by seat. We appealed to the eminent justice to speak up, as well as the lawyers for the prosecution, but to no avail. It may as well have been carried on inside a confessional. Nobody could hear a word. It was all mumblings, utterings and legal jargon.

This is the kind of torture that is being perpetrated. It is no different from what went on in the days of the Black and Tans that our good ancestors fought to get rid of. Our own system is supposed to be serving the people. We are public servants and Teachtaí Dála; we are messenger boys to the people. However, the system is not serving the people. We must cry halt to this. We cannot have subverted ways of allowing financial institutions and vulture funds that have bought up these properties to make a killing. It is bad enough to leave all the bondholders off scot free, even though they had insurance at the time, let alone to allow this continue to be perpetrated. As I said, we will never deal with the housing crisis while this is going on in tandem. It is like a three-legged race. They are both intertwined. We keep evicting people and threatening them with eviction and serious trauma comes from that. That trauma inflicted on families is a very big factor in our suicide and mental health rates.

There is merciless treatment in courts, even in my own courthouse in Tipperary in which people are not getting a fair hearing or fair treatment. When the county registrar left and went on to Wicklow, she was brought back again because there were not enough evictions happening in Tipperary. That is what I was told. Where are we going in this modern democracy as we come to the close of a year of celebration in 2016? The men of 1916 would turn in their graves if they saw what is being done in the country that they fought so nobly for and gave their lives and sacrifices for in the name of freedom. For no good reason of their own, people who tried to house themselves by building their own houses or by paying for it in rented accommodation with some assistance from the State now find themselves in a perilous situation. We in this Chamber are oblivious to what has been going and what continues to go on in the reign of terror being visited on these people. I compliment the proposers of these amendments and I support them 100%.

It is important to remember that the Courts Bill was introduced last month, November, for a particular reason. The House was told that it was being introduced to deal with the unintended consequences of a Court of Appeal decision on a case called Permanent TSB v. Langan. That decision was given in July of this year. The Government said it was introducing the Bill to deal with some of the consequences of that court case. In particular, the Government stated it was introducing the legislation because the Circuit Court may not now have jurisdiction in respect of a certain type of case. Those cases in which it would not have jurisdiction related to buy-to-let properties in respect of which a mortgage had been granted prior to December 2009. On the basis of what the Government said in the House, it received agreement or main support on Second Stage.

When it came to Committee Stage, in light of concerns that were expressed to me by parliamentary colleagues in Fianna Fáil, I tabled an amendment to the legislation. That amendment was amendment No. 10 that was due to be considered on Committee Stage. What it sought to do was protect tenants on repossessed land. The reason I refer to it is because the amendment that I tabled on Committee Stage is relatively similar to the amendment being put forward now on Report Stage by Deputy Smith. The amendment being put forward by Deputy Healy is a much broader amendment. I particularly want to address the amendment being tabled by Deputy Smith.

When it came to Committee Stage, I brought to the attention of the Government that in fact the Court of Appeal decision in PTSB v. Langan was being appealed to the Supreme Court. That was something that this House did not know at the time of the Second Stage debate. In fairness, it could not have known as the decision to allow the appeal to the Supreme Court was only given two days after the hearing of the Second Stage debate in the House. As a result of bringing this information to the attention of the Government, on foot of the fact that the Committee on Justice and Equality indicated that it would not support it, the Government decided to drop the first three sections in the Courts Bill, which dealt with giving jurisdiction to the Circuit Court in the particular type of case that I outlined earlier. As a result of the Government dropping sections 1 to 3, inclusive, I did not proceed with or pursue amendment No. 10 because I did not think it was appropriate in light of the fact that the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court was not going to be changed by the legislation. There was no reason to introduce legislation because there was a matter before the courts. It may not be necessary to introduce legislation in the long run.

I wanted to give that as an explanation as to why Fianna Fáil will not be supporting Deputy Smith's amendment, though I have a lot of sympathy for it. The reason we will not be supporting it is, due to the first three sections of the Bill being gone, it does not fit within the legislation we are drafting as a Courts Bill. However, I agree with a lot of what was said by Deputies Healy, Smith and McGrath about there being a housing crisis within this problem. That crisis is not going to be resolved by a Courts Bill or by amendments to it. It will only be resolved through the Government putting in place a coherent and sensible plan that will result in greater supply being provided in the development of houses and apartments in the country. It is also the case, however, that further consideration needs to be given to greater protection for tenants, including tenants of buy-to-let properties. That is a matter that Fianna Fáil will consider in due course. However, we do not believe that including this particular amendment is appropriate in the context of this Courts Bill. We will keep ourselves open to including a similar clause in subsequent landlord and land and conveyancing legislation that comes to be amended.

I thank the Deputies for tabling these amendments and for their initial contributions on the first three amendments. I am afraid I cannot accept any of these amendments and I wish to give reasons.

Amendment No. 4 proposes to insert a new subsection (2B) into section 67 of the Valuation Act 2001. The proposal appears to be based on a misunderstanding of the purpose of that Act and the function of section 67. The 2001 Act revised the law relating to the valuation of property for rating purposes. It contains detailed provisions for the rating system, including appeals to the Valuation Tribunal. Some properties are designated as non-rateable under Schedule 4 to the Act, including domestic premises. However, section 67 allows the Commissioner of Valuation to issue a certificate of rateable valuation in respect of non-rateable property in certain cases in which it is necessary to demonstrate the rateable valuation of a property to benefit from a statutory entitlement or right.

For example, one of the grounds on which eligibility to purchase the ground rent of a domestic premises can be established is where that rent is lower than the ratable valuation. For this purpose, a section 67 certificate can be obtained from the Commissioner of Valuation. It would be entirely inappropriate, therefore, to insert text along the lines of that contained in amendment No. 4, which deals with court repossession proceedings, into section 67 of the Valuation Act 2001. In any event, the content of the amendment cuts across provisions in the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2013, which was specifically targeted at repossession proceedings involving principal private residences. Section 2 of the 2013 Act already provides that in any repossession proceedings in respect of a borrower's principle private residence, the Circuit Court may adjourn proceedings so that a proposal for a personal insolvency arrangement, PIA, under the Personal Insolvency Act 2012, may be fully explored as an alternative to repossession. The Act also provides for an initial adjournment period not exceeding two months with the possibility of further adjournments where the court considers that progress has been made on preparing a PIA. This is without prejudice to the court's discretionary powers in this regard.

The 2013 Act already establishes an important link between repossession proceedings and the insolvency provisions of the Personal Insolvency Act 2012. In effect, this means that lending institutions cannot now proceed to the repossession stage without engaging with the borrower in good faith under the Personal Insolvency Act 2012. The 2013 Act also already provides the courts with a very broad margin of flexibility and allows them to take full account of the circumstances of each individual borrower when considering an application for repossession. In short and as Deputy O'Callaghan also pointed out, inserting the proposed provision in the Valuation Act would be entirely inappropriate. Moreover, to the extent that it seeks to restrict the independence and marginal discretion of the courts, it is likely that it would be challenged on constitutional grounds.

While I appreciate Deputy Healy's genuine concerns, I cannot accept amendment No 5. We are all aware of the difficulties being faced by some of our citizens in respect of housing and homelessness. It is a priority concern of this Government and we are acting with urgency and determination. Some support measures are already in place while others are in the pipeline. In particular, I draw Deputies' attention to the new innovative mortgage arrears resolution service, Abhaile, which the Ministers for Justice and Equality and Social Protection launched recently. This new nationwide service marks a new departure by providing free, independent, expert advice and support on financial and legal issues. Deputy Mattie McGrath made reference to the service earlier.

Cá bhfuil mo bhaile?

The objective of the scheme is to ensure that persons at risk of losing their homes due to mortgage arrears can access independent expert financial and legal advice that will help them to identify the best options for returning to solvency, with priority given to remaining in their homes where that is a sustainable option. It aims, in particular, to reach those in arrears of more than two years. The scheme started in late July and is already proving very effective. Eligible clients are given vouchers to obtain expert advice from financial and legal advisers in order to resolve their debt issues. In addition, they can get assistance in court where needed, have access to solicitors and get help obtaining legal aid. Since the establishment of the scheme in July, over 2,100 home owners have received assistance. Other initiatives including the establishment of a dedicated new court to handle mortgage arrears and other personal insolvency cases and a review of the Central Bank's code of conduct on mortgage arrears will come on stream in the coming months.

Regarding the rights of tenants, a matter that falls outside the scope of the Bill we are discussing, Deputies may be aware that the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Bill 2016, which is expected to be enacted shortly, contains two provisions relating to security of tenure. It provides that a landlord may not terminate a tenancy on the grounds that he or she wishes to sell a dwelling in circumstances where the landlord is selling more than 20 dwellings at the same time in the same development. In addition, the Bill provides for the repeal of section 42 of the 2004 Act, thereby extinguishing the landlord's right to terminate a further Part 4 tenancy in the first six months of that tenancy for no stated ground. I should add that action No. 5 of the rental strategy published earlier today by the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government commits to the establishment of a working group to examine the scope for transferring the obligations of landlords to receivers where receivers have been appointed. The group will report to the Minister by the end of March 2017. Finally, in so far as it seeks to infringe on property rights safeguarded by the Constitution, Deputy Healy's amendment cannot be accepted.

On amendment No. 6, the intention appears to be to protect tenants in the event of repossession of dwellings by a mortgagee or the appointment of a receiver. I note at the outset that the scope of the proposal is not defined and that it would, therefore, appear to be intended to apply to all categories of tenants, including tenants of commercial premises and office blocks. Adoption of such a broad measure would be likely to have far reaching and unintended consequences. It is highly unlikely, therefore, that the proposed amendment would, because of its breadth and the fact that it is not limited to some class of tenant or some type of requirement of what could reasonably regarded as social justice within the meaning of Article 43 of the Constitution, withstand a constitutional challenge. In the absence of some established social necessity or other similar justification and the proportionate limitation of the proposed amendment to what could reasonably be regarded as necessary for the purposes of such a justification, it does not seem likely that the constitutionality of the proposed restriction on the right of mortgagees could be successfully defended if there were a challenge alleging the proposed restriction constituted an unjust attack within the meaning of Article 43.2 of the Constitution. I cannot, therefore, accept amendment No. 6.

I accept that amendment No. 6 is flawed in that it does not specifically state, as amendment No. 4 does, that it relates to a principle private residence rather than an office block or an hotel. I accept that those few words are missing but the amendment is intended in the same context and spirit as the previous amendment. It also dovetails with Deputy Healy's amendment.

The Minister of State has argued that this amendment is not relevant to this Bill, which is concerned with land valuation. Having read the Bill, I am aware that most of the amendments relate to the valuation of land and to changes to the Valuation Acts. I understand the purpose of the Bill. The Minister of State has argued that, technically, this amendment is not relevant to the Bill but he does not explain how section 5, which amends section 170A of the Planning and Development Act which relates to the strategic development zones, SDZs, is relevant. The section begins thus:

Section 170A (inserted by the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2015) of the Planning and Development Act 2000 is amended—

(a) in subsection (3)(a), by the substitution, for “satisfies”, of “fails to satisfy”, and the deletion of “and may satisfy the criteria referred to in subparagraph (v) of that paragraph”,

This section deals with a measure which will allow developers to easily change an SDZ should an alteration or amendment be required. Why has an amendment to the Planning and Development Act 2000 been stuck into this Bill? We will be discussing both the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill and the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Bill this week and surely that amendment would be more appropriate in one of those.

Given everything that has been said about the urgency of stopping evictions and helping the tens of thousands of families who are stressed, worried and, in some cases, distraught, what is the problem with inserting an amendment that enables ordinary families to stay in their homes as against a provision which enables developers to bypass planning laws? Why is it appropriate for an amendment to the Planning and Development Act to be included in this Bill, while an amendment that deals with the current crisis for tens of thousands of families is deemed inappropriate?

The Minister of State, in responding to Deputy Bríd Smith's amendment, made my case for me. He referred on a number of occasions to the question of a constitutional challenge but that is exactly what my amendment is designed to ensure cannot occur. If there is a formal declaration of a housing emergency, then that puts the right of a family to a home above the right to private property.

This is not something new, as I said earlier. A previous Government declared a financial and this Government renewed that declaration on 20 June last. This is not something that the Government does not know anything about. The Government has done this previously and as recently as 30 June.

That was to cut pay and pensions. As the Minister of State knows, pensions have been declared by the Supreme Court and the courts system generally as private property. The Government has already declared a financial emergency, the addressing of which interferes with the private property of public servants, namely, their pensions. This is effectively no different.

The Minister refers to various supports but the figures we got yesterday show that, however well-meaning and well-intentioned they are, they are not working. A total of 420 families lost their homes in the past three months, which amounts to four per day. What we are doing is adding to the existing housing emergency. It is time that we stopped. The only way to absolutely ensure that we can protect families from the trauma, ill-health and mental distress arising from homelessness and the pressure of eviction is by declaring a housing emergency. We should do that immediately.

I, too, am disappointed. The previous Government had a massive majority and bulldozed everything through, including the land and conveyancing legislation. We are now supposed to have new politics and a new Government. In drafting the amendments, Deputies made a genuine effort to have empathy and to understand the trauma and stress. They are trying to deal with what the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Deputy Coveney, is calling an emergency. Reams of paper and all the announcements in the world will not deal with it if the Government does not do so.

Deputy Healy stated that over 400 families - four per day - lost their homes in the past three months. That is not to mention at all the many self-employed people with small enterprises who took out business loans in good faith. Many secured loans using their own homes, which they had paid for through hard work and toil. Now they are in trouble and facing the problem also. There is silence on this. The figure of four per day is not accurate at all. There are many more affected and they are suffering from the associated trauma. I would have believed Fine Gael would have been chastened somewhat by the result it got in the election. Now I see Fianna Fáil is lining up with it to ensure that these amendments are not accepted or given a hearing. We await the outcome. The public is watching, however. It is downright unbelievable that a housing emergency cannot be declared. The Government knows what is happening. Most of the Deputies know in any event. My colleague, Deputy O'Callaghan, might not because he is on the other side in his other job. He is entitled to that job but he is an elected Member of this House now. What goes on in the courts is lucrative business. There is a service called Abhaile. It is the case that many people will be saying, "Cá bhfuil mo bhaile? Tá mo bhaile imithe." The service is appropriately named. It is a scheme to put money in lawyers' and solicitors' pockets; it is not to support families. Affected people must pay the costs in court when facing the high road. They face no other road but the high road. In court, they could not be heard or have advocates. Now they are told they can have legal eagles who will come to support them. The latter will get paid, yet those affected will be losing their homes, thus adding to a growing housing list. Despite this, we cannot see the correlation between the two. We are very slow. Junior infants would see what is going on. Anybody who is blindfolded would see what is going on, but this Government cannot see it and neither could that which preceded it. The contagion is now spreading to this side of the House.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 39; Níl, 83; Staon, 0.

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Brady, John.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.

Níl

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Chambers, Lisa.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Curran, John.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Loughlin, Fiona.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Zappone, Katherine.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Bríd Smith and Seamus Healy; Níl, Deputies Regina Doherty and Tony McLoughlin.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 8, between lines 26 and 27, to insert the following:

"9. Dáil Éireann formally declares that a housing emergency exists in the State and while this emergency continues the right of any person to remain in the dwelling in which the person currently resides will take precedence over any property right of any other person—

(a) accordingly no court or other authority shall order the removal of the current occupant of a dwelling, or by its decisions enable such removal notwithstanding the provisions of any Act currently in force including the provisions of the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2013,

(b) the housing emergency declared in this section can only be terminated by a vote of Dáil Éireann, and the Government including any Minister of the Government are precluded from annulling the housing emergency without approval in such a vote,

(c) in view of the Housing Emergency declared here, the power of any Minister of Government to raise the market value threshold of €75,000 for single or multiple dwellings for consideration of possession of dwellings cases by the Circuit Court by activating or commencing sections of existing Acts without approval by a vote of Dáil Éireann, is cancelled.".

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 37; Níl, 84; Staon, 0.

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Brady, John.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.

Níl

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Chambers, Lisa.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Curran, John.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Loughlin, Fiona.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Zappone, Katherine.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Seamus Healy and Bríd Smith; Níl, Deputies Regina Doherty and Tony McLoughlin.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 8, between lines 26 and 27, to insert the following:

“Amendment of Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2013

9. The Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2013 is amended by the insertion, after section 4, of the following:

“Protection of tenants on repossessed land

4A.(1) Where a mortgagee goes into possession of land of a mortgagor, or appoints a receiver to land pursuant to its rights as mortgagee, no right shall be granted to terminate any tenancy on that land that may then exist in favour of a third party for a period of 24 months from the date of the appointment of a receiver.

(2) Where a mortgagee goes into possession of land of a mortgagor, or appoints a receiver to land pursuant to its rights as mortgagee, any tenancy on that land that exist in favour of a third party shall continue to enjoy any protections afforded to that tenancy under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 notwithstanding the provision of any other statute.”.”.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 37; Níl, 86; Staon, 0.

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Brady, John.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.

Níl

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Chambers, Lisa.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Curran, John.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Loughlin, Fiona.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Zappone, Katherine.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Gino Kenny and Bríd Smith; Níl, Deputies Regina Doherty and Tony McLoughlin.
Amendment declared lost.
Bill, as amended, received for final consideration.
Question put: "That the Bill do now pass."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 86; Staon, 0; Níl, 38.

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Chambers, Lisa.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Curran, John.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Loughlin, Fiona.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Zappone, Katherine.

Níl

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Brady, John.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Regina Doherty and Tony McLoughlin; Níl, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Seamus Healy.
Question declared carried.

A message shall be sent to the Seanad acquainting it accordingly.