Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions

The front of this morning’s newspaper editions reminds us again of the severity of the rent crisis and of how an entire generation is locked out of affordable, secure housing. Rents have doubled in the last decade. The average rent statewide now stands at an eye-watering €1,443 per month. That is, of course, a shocking figure but will not come as a shock to those caught up in the crisis. They feel it in their pockets every day.

We now have the first generation of 20- and 30-year-olds who are worse off than their parents. The rent crisis that we and they face is the result of the bad housing policies of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. It is happening because people who should have been able to buy their own home years ago are trapped in the private rental market. Families who should be in public housing, paying fair rents, are trapped there too. We know that wealthy investment funds, empowered by the Government's cushy tax deals, are snapping up family homes, renting them to those families at extortionate rates and all the while pushing up house prices.

These are the same funds that have been buying up city apartment blocks for years and charging sky-high rents for those too. Rising rents outside Dublin will no doubt act as an incentive for these funds to buy up housing, not alone across the commuter belt, but also into our regional cities.

Yesterday, I asked the Taoiseach very plainly about his plan to tackle these vulture funds. He did not answer me, however. I can only surmise that he does not have a plan and that he proposes to sit on his hands. The Taoiseach's weak response tells these funds they certainly have nothing to fear from his Government. Not only does the Taoiseach not have a plan of his own, he will also reject the plans of others. This evening, Fianna Fáil and its partners in Fine Gael will block proposals to tackle these investment funds. Government is also lining up to vote against a plan to cut rents and stop rent increases for three years. How on earth can the Taoiseach say with a straight face that his policy is not to support these investment funds? I suggest that what he must do here is not rocket science. If I were Taoiseach, I would first end the tax advantages enjoyed by these institutional investors and get them to pay their fair share of corporation tax and capital gains tax. Second, I would impose a stamp duty surcharge on the purchase of residential property by these investor funds. Third, I would introduce emergency legislation to stop these funds bulk buying residential developments. That is what the Taoiseach should do but his answer to each of those sensible, necessary proposals is "No", "No", "No".

Is this why the Taoiseach led Fianna Fáil back into government, to allow Fine Gael to continue to call the tune on housing? This is a kick in the teeth for those robbed of the opportunity to buy a home by these funds and who in turn are being charged massive rents by them. The Taoiseach said that housing is his number one priority but we still wait for his Government to do anything meaningful that will make a difference. Almost a year into this Government, the Taoiseach remains wedded to policies that prioritise developers and investors over ordinary people. That needs to stop because housing must be affordable again.

I ask the Taoiseach this evening to do the right thing. I ask him not to block the proposals that will make a difference but to support them and then to implement them.

I led Fianna Fáil back into government to deal with substantive issues such as housing and to make it a key priority issue because of the needs of people in society for housing as a fundamental right and a basic entitlement. That is why we have spared no effort to comprehensively develop a range of initiatives and funding allocations to match those initiatives to get more houses built.

Sinn Féin's motion this evening will not build one extra house. The Deputy should be honest about it. It would be far better if the Deputy and her party supported housing projects across the length and breadth of the country instead of opposing 975 houses in Clondalkin, 500 homes in Tallaght, 278 houses in Swords and 1,200 homes in Donabate. That is what Sinn Féin could do constructively to get more houses built in this country.

The Government said we want to, and have committed, funding for the largest social housing programme in the history of the State, and to embed that in multiannual funding over the next five years. Our target is to build 50,000 social houses to enable people to access housing.

In addition, however, we have now created a range of initiatives for affordable housing in order that young people will be able to buy houses at affordable rates. Furthermore, we brought in for the first time a national cost-rental scheme, which we will scale up. We have committed unprecedented funding to infrastructural development with €1.2 billion in urban development generation funds alone, which will help to provide the services to enable more housebuilding to take place. We have provided €1.4 billion to Irish Water to support the construction of residential units. That is substance and it will make a difference in terms of housing.

I do not see any substance in Sinn Féin's plans. I asked the Deputy yesterday whether she sees a role for private builders to start building on the other side of the coin to get more housing estates built. The Deputy said "No". She said it would be social housing only. That is the only answer she has. Sinn Féin's policies are shallow. There is an absence of substance behind them. Sinn Féin is more about rhetoric and sloganeering than about substance around housing. I will not to be deflected by its sloganeering or the degree to which it wants to exploit the housing crisis for its own electoral and political advantage.

My focus, and that of the Government, is to deal substantively with the issues to make sure we can create more supply, which is what is required. We are simply not building enough houses or apartments in Ireland now, and have not been for some time. We need all agencies of the State to make sure we can do that. That also involves the Land Development Agency Bill and making sure all the land in State hands, which is not needed for other activities, is brought into use for housing. That should be done with urgency. State agencies and other Departments will have to surrender land to make sure we get houses built. This is a crisis which this Government wants to deal with both energetically and in a focused way that gets real results.

We have made it clear that we do not believe investment funds should be bulk buying or competing with first-time buyers in the marketplace. The Government will take steps to deal with that issue and the Ministers are working on proposals that will also come forward. We need supply. Sinn Féin has opposed every single affordable housing initiative undertaken by the Government, including the Land Development Agency legislation, even on Second Stage.

Let the House record that we are in the grip of a housing crisis, which is a social crisis and a social catastrophe for people up and down the length of this State. The Head of Government, the Taoiseach, instead of setting out what he and his Government propose to do to put a stop to the gallop of these investment funds that are deepening the crisis and causing so much hardship, reaches for bluff and bluster.

Of course, builders have a role in building houses; no great prizes for the Taoiseach for figuring that out. We need a Government that is prepared to lead. We are in a crisis. Investment funds are snapping up family homes from under the noses of people who require secure accommodation. They are enabled and facilitated in that by tax arrangements over which the Government presides, and by a failure on the part of the Government to provide the very supply to which the Taoiseach refers.

I do not want a blasé dismissal of my question. I want to know when the Taoiseach will legislate to ensure that this bulk buying ceases. When will he end cushy tax arrangements? When will we see action?

The Deputy has seen action. Some €3.3 billion was allocated this year for house construction. The largest social housing programme is under way, as are affordable housing initiatives. The biggest actor in the housing market now is this Government

There is no question about that. That is the objective reality in terms of the allocation of funding to a variety of mechanisms, schemes and initiatives. The Government is providing the substantial funding for house construction.

We need more than that. That is point I am making, to which the Deputy has not really responded. She does not see a role at all for the private sector and smaller and medium-sized builders, good, bad or in different. The Deputy does not seem to think they have any role, or that housing estates should be constructed outside of one narrow focus, which her party seems to have. Why is Sinn Féin stopping the development of more than 800 houses at Oscar Traynor Road? It has been going on for years. If Sinn Féin has its way, it will go on for years again.

The Taoiseach's time is up.

When it comes to it, there is no sense of urgency.

I have listed some of the projects which Sinn Féin has opposed. If the Deputy were honest about this, she would say, as I am saying to people on my side-----

The crisis is now of such a state-----

You do realise you are the Taoiseach and the Head of Government but this is your response to the young people of this country.

-----that one does not have the luxury of continuing to oppose serious housing projects which are shovel ready.

Please Deputies. The time is up.

You are a disgrace.

However, Sinn Féin continues to oppose them and is giving no rational explanation as to why. It is serial objection at this stage.

You are a disgrace. The young people of this country see you.

A little decorum please. The Taoiseach should be able to respond without interruption.

If I told the Taoiseach that cuckoo funds have been betting on this Government to the tune of €53 million every week this year, he would probably say I am being overdramatic. It is true, however. Despite its claims of ignorance about the activities of these cuckoo funds, the Government is up to its neck in it. Last year, GillenMarkets, a financial advisory firm based in Dublin, published a note to its wealthy investors which stated:

The current high level house prices and rents in Ireland's residential property market have been driven in a significant way by the Government's housing policy with favourable policies attracting institutional investors such as IRES REIT into the market. Their gradual move into the market has contributed to higher house prices and thus higher rents. [It continues] … Overall the current housing policy has benefited both institutions and developers at the expense of individual buyers. The potential risk for institutions such as IRES comes from a potential change in Government policy.

The cuckoo funds do not really care about our housing crisis. They only care about their bottom line. They view the complete absence of affordable homes as a major incentive to invest here. Worse, they view the lack of affordable homes as a deliberate Government policy.

The assessment by GillenMarkets of the Government's policy is pretty damning stuff. The Government, however, is not unaware of it. Last June, The Times, Ireland edition, published a lengthy article about this and contacted the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage for a comment. Regrettably, the Department did not seem interested.

Rents in Ireland increased by 62% between 2010 and 2020. At the same time, the average rent across the European Union increased by 15%. Is it any wonder that institutional investors are looking to Ireland? Rents in Dublin are more than 30% higher than they were at the peak of the Celtic tiger. That does not come as a surprise to those who have been struggling to pay those rents. It has not come as a surprise to those who have been trying to save for a mortgage because they know that renting is not sustainable in the long term with what is happening.

It is not that we only have a supply side crisis; we have an affordability crisis. It is central to the problem. All the evidence is that the best method of delivering affordability is the interventionist approach. This is the one the global funds fear. We saw this with the Ó Cualann model. However, that is not being delivered to scale which is needed. The key reason the Government decided to act now is because Mullen Park was a catalyst for change. Such sales will not be tolerated any longer.

The Government is committed to making changes regarding houses in housing estates-----

Please Deputy. The time is up.

What about apartments? Are they not people's homes too? What about affordability?

How is it factored into the Government's model? Why are the funds favourable towards a policy that they claim lacks an interventionist approach which is what they fear?

What we have now in housing policy is an interventionist approach in terms of the State's role in social housing and the Minister's affordability legislation. These provide for a range of schemes where the State is getting directly involved in building affordable housing, not just social housing. It is through a range of supports, either through the serviced sites fund, the shared equity scheme or others, that the State is actually intervening to provide. The cost-rental scheme is there too which, again, is State intervention. I have already referenced the massive social housing side.

The Ministers will deal with the issues which have arisen in respect of investment funds. They were brought in in 2013 to bring investment to get apartment blocks built in high-density areas in cities. Those are the origins of this. From our perspective in the past ten months, the Cabinet committee on housing has met on a number of occasions. The entire focus has been around affordability. We have dealt with the social housing allocation and the budget was quite transformative in terms of the €3.3 billion allocated.

That marks an interventionist approach from the Government. The issue, however, is that we are not building enough houses. There is an issue in terms of development finance for house building. That is the other side of the equation on which we need to work in terms of making sure that the cost of borrowing in respect of housing projects is at a level that makes projects viable. For example, the Government is looking at how we can get greater development in brownfield sites in cities which makes sense from the perspective of climate change and developing compact cities in terms of public transport, services and so forth.

A comprehensive approach is being taken. For example, the urban regeneration fund of €1.2 billion is designed to underpin greater residential development in our cities and in large urban areas. The bulk of the investment from the State is going towards that. We will deal with the issues which have arisen whereby we do not want the investment funds crowding out first-time buyers or moving into suburban housing estates. A combination of measures will be taken. The Ministers are working through that now and will come back to the Government on it.

The Deputy should be in no doubt that the Government is the biggest player in housing market in terms of investment and intervention. We need more supply, however.

If there was not a pandemic, there would be boots on the streets with people protesting. A whole generation has simply had enough and is not going to take that kind of response.

I acknowledge a lot of money is being spent by the Government on our behalf. However, we must look at what it is spent on, such as long leases for 25 years. Dublin City Council is in the market for 1,000 units just since the Covid crisis commenced. After the 25 years of the lease, the council will have no asset at the end but top dollar will have been paid. We have been told by a council official that these investors are greedier and they want more but are easier to deal with.

We are talking about affordability. Cost-rental with a profit tagged on to it is the opposite of what is intended. I remember in 2014 in the Dáil raising the issue of the housing assistance payment and saying that, if it was not accompanied by significant house building, it would become the dominant payment and suck up a huge amount of funds. It is exactly the same with long leasing.

Please, Deputy. The time is up.

I do not see affordability in the Taoiseach's plans. I do not understand what the Taoiseach thinks affordability is.

There is a project developing in Cork on the Boherboy Road, from which the Deputy will get a strong sense of what that affordability is in terms of the range of prices, which are really affordable.

The Government is ten months in office. Without question, it has taken a significant interventionist approach in the provision of housing, both social and affordable, along with the necessary accompanying infrastructure to deal with it. The preference is direct build. The Minister made announcements and set targets around budget time. However, Covid impacted on these because we have lost so much time through restrictions while construction was closed down for three to four months. The target at the commencement of the year, prior to the Covid restrictions, was 12,750 social homes, of which 9,500 will be direct build. Leasing will be a small part of that.

There has been a 36% reduction in family homelessness, for example, which does not get mentioned in the debate here.

That is because of direct intervention in the market. There has been a 19% overall reduction in homelessness. Progress has been made but we need to make a hell of a lot more.

When it comes to the housing crisis, I am afraid the Taoiseach is living in a parallel universe. Every single day, evidence of the disastrous consequences of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil policies piles up. In the past few weeks, there has been evidence about cuckoo funds pricing ordinary working people out of being able to buy homes. Yesterday, evidence emerged of rents rising across the country by 7% and starting to rise again in Dublin. Today, there is report about house prices rising 3.7% last year and increasing by an incredible 90% since 2012. Walk outside the gates of Leinster House and there are tents with homeless people absolutely littering the streets. In my area, residents of St. Helen's Court are victims of a vulture fund that is now trying to evict them even though they have done nothing wrong.

All the Government suggests is that maybe we will impose a little stamp duty on purchases by these profit-hungry entities or slightly limit the percentage of these cuckoo funds that are wrecking the market and pricing ordinary working people out of it in the context of rents and house prices. If we were dealing with the Bill put forward by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, these entities would still be able to buy 70% of estates. The truth is what the Government needs to do is exclude the cuckoo and vulture funds that former Michael Noonan and Deputy Howlin invited into the country in 2012, 2013 and 2014. They need to be excluded from the market altogether, as is the case in New Zealand. We need rent controls, not pressure zones or 4% increases every year, in order to make rents affordable. We need punitive taxes on any land or property hoarding or hoarding of vacant properties by speculators and investment funds.

It is absolutely critical that we use the public land bank at scale to build public and genuinely affordable housing. The proof the Government is not doing that is the Land Development Agency, LDA, Bill going through the Dáil. What that Bill will do is open up the public land bank to the same investment vehicles that have wrecked the private housing sector and priced a whole generation of young people and working people out of the housing market or made them prey to the extortionate rents charged by these vulture funds. That is what the Government is doing. The proof that the Government's commitments to change the policy are nonsense is the fact that the LDA Bill is a plan for a heist by the very investment vehicles that have profiteered at the expense of all the people who are in the grip of the housing crisis we face.

The Deputy has deliberately ignored the substance of the Government's intervention in the housing market. We are on the cusp of the largest social housing building programme, through the allocation of substantial funding on unprecedented scale. That is a reality. The issue will be delivery and getting those houses built through the local authorities. The authorities must start commissioning builders to get those housing estates built on the social housing front.

In the context of affordability, a range of initiatives have been undertaken, all of which the Deputy has opposed for various ideological reasons but which are designed to and will make homes more affordable for people. The fundamental issue is one of supply and of getting more houses built. What I have seen the Deputy present is "Stop that, stop that, stop that" but the alternative from that side of the House is not as clear, except that, it seems to me, there would a 100% provision on the social housing front. However, there are many people in this country who want to own their own homes. They have that aspiration and it is a long-held one. In our view, the State should assist by facilitating people to buy their own homes. To do that, it will need more than just investment in social housing-----

Exactly Taoiseach.

-----it will need initiatives around affordable housing-----

-----and it will need investment in infrastructure. It will need the provision of State land for affordable housing. Many projects have been objected to on the councils by the colleagues of those on the other side of this House and that has happened because there has been a mix of affordable, social and other forms of housing.

A number of the Taoiseach's colleagues objected to those as well.

Opposition parties have taken an absolutist position that it is one type of housing or nothing. In the crisis in which we are currently find ourselves, we must build far more houses than we have been over the last number of years. That will take a variety of initiatives and approaches. I have no objection to any type of approach, by the way. I believe in a very strong social housing programme and always have done because, historically, my party always built substantial social housing. It was a raison d'être for the party in the 1930s and right through the 1960s and 1970s. I believe passionately in providing social housing for people and I am determined that we do it. However, I am also determined to provided for those who wish to be able to afford to buy their own homes.

I am not interested in the ideological battles on the margins that the Deputy consistently wants to focus on. I am interested in the bricks and mortar of this and in getting things done and not just objecting every time there is a chance to do so. As a result of the latter, we are not getting projects that are shovel-ready off the ground. The Deputy always has that cosy comfort zone whereby he spouts out the ideological stuff but he is found wanting when it comes down to the ground and to votes on projects. I have been on councils too and have seen this time and time again. It is always only one half of those involved who will vote for the projects and take the difficulties and challenges that come with that.

For 15 years I have been campaigning to get public and affordable housing on the Shanganagh prison site, so the Taoiseach should not say that we do not want affordable housing. Fianna Fáil- and Fine Gael-controlled councils in our area have not seen one sod turned and now the Government wants to hand it over to the LDA. People need to read the Bill. The only mention of social housing in the Bill is in reference to concluding arrangements with commercial investment vehicles. All of that land is to be set up as designated activity companies. In other words, the privatisation of the entire public land bank. That is the agenda. The Taoiseach should not forgot that it was Fianna Fáil who set up NAMA, then Fine Gael and Labour flogged off €40 billion worth of assets to these vulture and cuckoo funds that have wrecked the housing market and priced ordinary people out of it. It was Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour in government who effectively stopped the social housing programme.

The Taoiseach says that the Government is building social housing. In four Dublin council areas last year, the first year of his Government, 239 local authority houses were built . That is all. There were 1,300 built in the entire country and that is when we have 70,000 to 80,000 families, hundreds of thousands of people, on the housing waiting lists. Then the Government refers to affordable housing as being homes costing €400,000 or €450,000. What planet is the Taoiseach living on?

The Deputy is wrong and has completely ignored the impact of Covid-19 on house construction in the past 12 months. He completely brushed the latter aside. We were closed down early last year and, unfortunately, early this year. That, however, will not stop us in terms of the funding we have allocated to social housing. It has been allocated to the direct build of social houses, which is what we want to do and are committed to doing. We are going to have to empower the councils to do that in addition to other ways of providing social housing for those that need it. We need to use State land and free it up for housing development. What I get from Deputy Boyd Barrett again-----

State land for public housing, not for the Taoiseach's developer friends.

This has been going on for years. Every time someone comes up with a proposal, Opposition parties feel that they have to find a way to object to it. I wonder why. It just goes on and on. Deputy Boyd Barrett opposes everything. Every item of legislation. It is his way or the highway.

I do not want the Government to sell off the public land bank.

We are not building enough houses in this country right now. We need all hands on deck in order to get houses built for people. That is what we need, not just the exploitation of the issue for electoral advantage, which is what I see repeatedly, time and time again.

I wish to raise minimum unit pricing for alcohol, a measure the Government is introducing.

I fully support any measures taken to tackle the problem that society faces with alcohol. I was a member of the health committee when this legislation was examined and I fully supported it then.

This legislation is right but it comes at the wrong time, as our friends in the North do not appear to have any appetite to introduce similar legislation. If the legislation is to be successful, as we all want, it must be introduced at the same time in the South and the North. That must happen for quite a simple reason, as the cost of drink today is substantially lower in Northern Ireland and with the introduction of this legislation's provisions, drink costs could be as much as double the prices in Northern Ireland. We all know that will lead to shoppers from the South going in their droves north of the Border to buy cheap alcohol, and this will have devastating effects on many businesses in the South and particularly in the Border area.

I am deeply concerned about the effects this will have on the retail trade in my home town of Dundalk. I have spoken to people in many local businesses about this and they are really concerned. I fully support the measures but there is potential for a devastating effect on Border area businesses.

The problem is that when shoppers head north for cheap drink, they will also buy goods that they could buy at home, such as groceries, clothes and other goods. To have a level playing field we need authorities in the North to introduce similar legislation, as was done in Scotland. The Scottish legislation was introduced in 2018 and it has already seen substantial reduction in alcohol-related deaths and illnesses. This must be the main focus but there is no point in one part of the island of Ireland introducing measures to combat alcohol consumption, while other parts of the island take no action.

Has the Taoiseach spoken to the Northern Ireland authorities about this? Does he intend to speak to them about it? What measures can the Government introduce to protect the many businesses that will be adversely affected by the new legislation? I urge the Taoiseach to consider today what supports the Government could give to those businesses that have already suffered greatly as a result of the lockdown and which now face another threat to their livelihood as a direct result of this legislation.

The Taoiseach is from Cork and I remember years ago people from his county, as well as Limerick, Dublin and Galway going in their busloads to Northern Ireland in order to buy alcohol. Such people do not just buy enough for the week but instead they go to bulk-buy. This will be devastating for families, as we all know the damage can alcohol can do. Will the Taoiseach consult the authorities in the North about this? I supported the legislation when it was being examined by the health committee as we were told the North and South would act jointly on this on an all-island basis..

I appreciate the Deputy raising this very important matter. I also appreciate that the Deputy supports the broad thrust of the policy and its underpinning rationale. We are seven months away from the introduction of minimum unit pricing, which will happen next January, and I appeal to the Northern Ireland Executive, all political parties in the North and anyone with influence on those parties to support a measure like this in Northern Ireland in order that we can have complete alignment.

There have been discussions between the two Departments of Health and the indications from the Northern Ireland Executive were that it was not going to consider this until 2023, if at all. There has been all-party agreement on this legislation in this House for quite some time, going back to 2018 and to 2013 and the reasons are obvious. The view is that the below-cost selling of alcohol is harming children and young people in particular. Some of the figures are quite horrendous. For example, Ireland had the third highest level in the world of adolescent binge drinking, at 61% for females and 58.8% for males, according to data from the global study on progress in adolescent health and well-being published in The Lancet in March 2019. Teenagers and children binge drinking bring significant issues for us as a society.

There is also an impact on hospitalisation and mortality figures. In 2012, the cost of alcohol-related discharges from hospital was €1.5 billion and the estimated cost of alcohol-related absenteeism from work was €41 million in 2013. In 2015, one in seven workers suffered work-related problems due to others drinking, including one in 20 workers reporting having to work extra hours due to co-workers drinking, with an estimated cost of €46 million.

There are also wider concerns related to hospitalisations and it is now estimated the number of hospitalisations wholly attributed to alcohol rose by 94% between 1995 and 2018 from 9,420 to 18,348. These figures are from the Department of Health and provided from clinical settings. From 2008 to 2017 there were 10,000 alcohol-related deaths and the Health Research Board reckons these data are likely to represent an underestimate of alcohol-related mortality in Ireland. The National Cancer Registry estimates that at current consumption levels, by 2035 male cancer cases attributable to alcohol will increase by 37% and female cancer cases will increase by 110%. Hence, the view of the Minister for Health, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, and the Minister of State, Deputy Feighan, that we must move on this.

As I stated, I fully support the legislation but its provisions are being introduced at the wrong time. The bottom line is that once the provisions are enforced, the price of alcohol in the South will almost certainly be double that in the North, and this will have devastating effects on local businesses, particularly in Border areas. Will the Taoiseach commit today to speaking with Northern Ireland authorities and urge them to follow us with this legislation?

I support this measure being introduced on the island of Ireland. It annoys me that since the start of the pandemic and when Brexit was being negotiated, the island had an opportunity to work together but we missed that opportunity. We all want to see a united Ireland and things working out well but we must work very closely with the North. Please contact the authorities in the Northern Ireland Assembly, work together and get this sorted out. The gap between North and South is getting bigger when we should be getting closer. The provisions of this legislation will not just affect Border areas, as it will also affect the entire country. Will the Taoiseach work with the Northern Ireland Assembly and try to get this sorted out?

We will do that. As I stated, I appeal to the Northern Ireland Executive on this. We are seven months away from this being implemented. The legislation was passed in 2018 and my understanding is it had all-party agreement at the time. The Northern Ireland Executive should align with this policy and I appeal to the parties to give this serious consideration. It is really designed to help young people and children, while avoiding the exploitation of below-cost selling, to be frank, and the patterns of alcohol consumption it creates, particularly among children and teenagers.

All the studies on alcohol demonstrate the harm caused by misuse of alcohol is closely related to the time of initiation to alcohol consumption; in other words, the earlier a child starts drinking, the greater the likelihood of problems later in life. We know from experience with tobacco and other areas that price matters in this respect, particularly in terms of children and young people. We will contact the Northern Ireland Executive on this and continue our engagement with it.