Affordable Homes in the Poolbeg Strategic Development Zone: Motion

I move:

That Dáil Éireann:

notes that:

— on 9th April, 2019, An Board Pleanála approved Dublin City Council’s (DCC) Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) Planning Scheme for Poolbeg West;

— following years of campaigning by the Irish Glass Bottle Housing Action Group and communities in Ringsend and Irishtown, Dublin City Councillors ensured the SDZ plan included 15 per cent affordable housing, above the 10 per cent social housing required under Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000;

— the SDZ provides for between 3,000 and 3,500 new homes;

— up to 350 of these will be social housing and up to 570 are to be affordable housing;

— over €30 million of funding from the Department of Transport and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage will be provided as part of the SDZ for a bridge connecting Britain Quay to York Street on the Poolbeg Peninsula;

— up to €28.6 million may be provided by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage under the Serviced Sites Fund for the provision of affordable housing;

— up to €20 million in funding has been provided through the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund for the upgrade of Sean Moore Road;

— in order to ensure that affordable homes are genuinely affordable, DCC negotiated with the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) to purchase the land at the Irish Glass Bottle site, at a significant discount on its market value;

— in 2019, DCC and NAMA reached an agreement that would have secured the land for the affordable homes at a discount of up to 60 per cent of market value;

— following protracted discussions between DCC and the then Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the Department refused to fund DCC’s purchase of the land;

— a last-minute intervention by a senior NAMA board member to the then Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy, failed to secure departmental funding for the land purchase;

— as a consequence, the land was sold at a price significantly above the guide price, to Ronan Group Real Estate (RGRE) and Oaktree Capital Management;

— the consequence of this transaction will be to push up development costs, making the delivery of genuinely affordable homes more difficult;

— NAMA have retained a 20 per cent interest in the entire Poolbeg lands;

— the 2021 report of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland entitled ‘The Real Costs of New Apartment Delivery Report 2020’ highlighted that the all-in development costs of new apartments in Dublin City ranged from €493,000 to €618,000;

— no agreement has been reached to date between DCC, NAMA and RGRE, on how to deliver the affordable homes in the SDZ;

— there is now real concern in the local community that the delivery of genuinely affordable homes on the Irish Glass Bottle site will not be possible; and

— the failure of the Government to avail of the opportunity to build affordable public homes on public land at the Irish Glass Bottle site is emblematic of their failing approach to housing across the State;

and agrees that:

— genuinely affordable homes on the Irish Glass Bottle site in the Poolbeg West SDZ must be delivered;

— the Ministers for Finance, Housing, Local Government and Heritage, and Transport must, as a matter of urgency, meet with both the Irish Glass Bottle Housing Action Group and DCC to agree a plan to guarantee the delivery of genuinely affordable homes on the Irish Glass Bottle site;

— the Government should seek to have NAMA’s 20 per cent interest in the Poolbeg lands transferred to DCC; and

— the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the Minister for Transport must make clear that no infrastructural funding will be made available to the developers within the SDZ until a satisfactory plan for the delivery of affordable homes is secured.

As we are all aware, the Poolbeg strategic development zone, SDZ, was approved unanimously by Dublin city councillors in 2018-2019, and was approved with some amendments by An Board Pleanála in 2019. It is probably the last major, strategic, residential development site in our city centre. It is hugely important, not only for Dublin Bay South, but also for the city overall. The Minister, Deputy O'Brien, will be aware that following a very successful campaign by the Irish Glass Bottle Housing Action Group and residents from Ringsend, Irishtown and the surrounding area, in addition to the 10% social housing that would ordinarily be provided, an extra 15% affordable housing has been included in the SDZ. The Minister was canvassing in the new houses in Ringsend last night and he spoke with some members of the campaign. I would be interested to hear his comments on that.

The intelligence unit is working very well. Impressive.

One of the reasons it is so important to get that extra 15% is because house prices in this part of the city have increased more dramatically than in many other places, as the Minister is aware. There are families who have lived in that part of the city for three or four generations and whose children simply cannot afford to rent or buy there, and who do not have any prospect of renting or buying in or close to the communities in which they live, work, play and socialise. The delivery of these homes, therefore, is absolutely paramount.

Dublin City Council, in order to try to ensure the affordability of the homes in question, approached the National Asset Management Agency, NAMA, in 2019 with a view to acquiring the portion of the SDZ known as the Irish Glass Bottle site. Unusually, NAMA agreed to sell that site to Dublin City Council at a discount. Despite valiant efforts by Dublin City Council, ably assisted by the National Development Finance Agency, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage refused to provide the finance for the council to proceed with the purchase. I understand, from good sources, that a last-minute intervention by a member of the NAMA board to the then Minister, Eoghan Murphy, who was also a Deputy representing the constituency, did not unblock the logjam, and Dublin City Council was unable to purchase the site.

The site was then rolled into the overall Poolbeg lands and put on the open market. As we know from media reports, the Ronan Group Real Estate bought the site, reputedly for a significant amount above the guide price. It beggars belief that any Minister would refuse to support the financing of such a key and strategic site, which would have been central to lowering the delivery costs and affordability of those units. I simply cannot understand that decision. The challenge is, however, that this is where we are today. Responsibility falls on this Government, with constructive opposition from this side of the House, to try to identify how best we can fix the problem we face.

It is very clear that everybody wants the affordable housing. I do not believe that any Member who will speak in this debate tonight does not want those 500 to 600-plus homes not delivered affordably. There is a difficulty however. Mr. Brendan Kenny, the director of housing with Dublin City Council, made public comments only a couple of weeks ago on his genuine concerns that the nature of the development as planned by Lioncor - the vehicle leading out the development for Ronan Group Real Estate - would be so expensive that even with the standard serviced sites fund, or even with the higher serviced sites fund the Minister is moving towards approving, one would not get those units at anything close to an affordable price for people on good incomes, let alone for those on modest incomes.

How can we fix this particular problem? The first thing is that NAMA continues to control a 20% interest in the land. There is an option here for the Government to seriously consider, which would be to see the landholding transfer from NAMA to Dublin City Council. Some people suggest that this should be done by way of a gift, but I am not sure if that is possible under the NAMA Act. It certainly would be possible for that land to be transferred by way of an advance on the ultimate dividend that NAMA would pass to the State when it concludes its work. We know this dividend is considerable.

The second issue is the very considerable infrastructural funding from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, through the local infrastructure housing activation fund, LIHAF, and the urban regeneration development fund, URDF, and the Department of Transport going into the overall SDZ. There will be somewhere in the region of €80 million, depending on how the ERDF funding is allocated, €50 million in LIHAF funding for the bridge will be matched by €15 million from the Department of Transport and the National Transport Authority, NTA, there will be between €12 million and €20 million for the Seán Moore Road and the roundabout there and whatever is allocated in the eventual serviced sites fund, which could be anything from €30 million to €60 million, depending on what eventually happens. That gives Dublin City Council and the Government very strong bargaining leverage. Nobody wants to delay this development. We want to see all of this happen quickly. In order for the Ronan group to make a reasonable offer for the purchase of those affordable units, fully discounted to the €80 million-plus, and preferably with the land values extracted completely following a transfer from NAMA to Dublin City Council, it would transform the ability of Dublin City Council to deliver affordable homes on that site.

I am aware that, clearly, the Minister cannot say "Yes" to any of that here today. That is not what we are asking. We are saying that we need central government to become more directly involved in working with Dublin City Council and the local community to put all of those levers on the table, and to come up with a plan to ensure that homes on that site can be purchased, just as homes in the Minister's constituency would be purchased, for example at prices of €250,000, with the serviced sites fund - or the affordable housing fund I believe it is now called - equity portion to be repaid to the local authority at a later stage.

We also need to be careful that the shared equity portion is not too big or too onerous on the homeowner, and therefore the maximum level of discount on the purchase price and the lowest level of shared equity repayable is where we need to go.

We tabled this motion in the spirit of being constructive. We tabled it because we believe that the ideas we propose would have widespread support in Ringsend, Irishtown and the surrounding area, and would also have widespread support among Dublin city councillors of all parties and none, and officials who would lead this project. My strong appeal to the Minister is this: I do not believe that his predecessor was particularly active in this dilemma, and this is why we have ended up in a situation where NAMA offered to sell land at a discount of up to 60% of the market value but was unable to do so because the Department and then Minister, Eoghan Murphy, refused to fund it. I urge the Government now to roll up its sleeves with the Minister, the Minister for Transport, Deputy Eamon Ryan, and the Minister for Finance, Deputy Donohoe, working jointly and directly with Dublin City Council. I understand that the Irish Glass Bottle Housing Action Group has approached the Ministers for Housing, Local Government and Heritage and Transport.

I would like to see this meeting happen as urgently as possible. I know that last night the Minister gave some commitments to the residents on a timeline for this. He can confirm this for us shortly. Let us work together on this. Let us ensure that on this site we have the maximum number of social and, crucially, affordable homes at prices working people can afford. If we all row in behind the community and the Irish Glass Bottle Housing Action Group we can produce a result that is in the interests of the community and the city. It is a result we all want to see.

I acknowledge Deputy Ó Broin for tabling the motion. It has been reported that a row between Dublin City Council and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government in 2019 scuppered plans to purchase lands at Poolbeg for affordable housing. Documents released under freedom of information to the Business Post showed the deal fell apart after the council and the Department disagreed over who should pay to purchase part of the former Irish Glass Bottle site. As a result of this row, Dublin City Council believes the failure to purchase land will make the delivery of affordable homes on the site problematic.

The inability to purchase new homes is nothing new for residents in Dublin Bay South. Young working families have not been able to purchase affordable homes for a long time. Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Amazon and now TikTok have all moved into the Ringsend and Pearse Street area and throughout south Dublin. As they have moved in, the price of buying and renting even modest homes has gone through the roof. Even if so-called affordable apartments are built, the reality is they will not be affordable to ordinary working families. Prices of €450,000, €500,000 and €600,000 are not affordable and this is what the affordable homes will cost.

Of course, the Government's decision to allow vulture funds to buy up apartments will make ownership for ordinary working people a distant memory. They may be affordable to the high-paid executives working in the tech companies but not to young working families. They will have to continue to live with their parents or pay huge rents that prevent them from saving for a home. Capital Dock, which throws a shadow over Ringsend and Pearse Street, has massive rents and is of no benefit to the ordinary working people living in its shadow. No public housing was delivered in the Ringsend and Pearse Street area as a result of the Capital Dock development. Many of the apartments are empty in an effort to keep rents high and manipulate the market.

In June of last year on Newstalk, the Minister said he would look at house prices in the region of €160,000 to €250,000 on a shared equity basis. Now it seems the affordable homes, if delivered in Ringsend, Harold's Cross or anywhere in Dublin Bay South, will be €450,000, which cannot possibly be classed as affordable. How can ordinary workers ever hope to buy a house in the community in which they went to school? Recently, I met the Irish Glass Bottle Housing Action Group with my colleagues, Senator Boylan, and Councillor Daniel Céitinn. The action group has campaigned tirelessly for affordable homes on the Irish Glass Bottle site and is extremely concerned there will be no public or affordable housing on the site. It is also concerned that if there is affordable housing it will not be affordable to ordinary working families. Will the Minister state there will be affordable homes on the Irish Glass Bottle site and that they will not cost more than €450,000?

Homes need to be building blocks for stronger communities and not just assets from which to make profits. Fine Gael represents the vulture funds, and it was ably assisted by the Labour Party and Deputy Howlin when he was a Minister in partnership with Fine Gael. Like most Deputies in Dublin Bay South, I am regularly contacted by residents in Ringsend, Sandymount and Pearse Street desperate for secure and decent accommodation. They are not looking to get it for free. One family recently contacted me because their council flat has three teenagers in one bedroom. The girl has the single bunk and shares with her two teenage brothers. Both parents work hard and pay €150 a week for a flat that is barely habitable despite their best efforts to keep it well, which they do given the circumstances. Their children are afraid to leave the flat because of the drug dealing and random violence around their home. They pay €600 a month to Dublin City Council and they feel trapped and worried, not for themselves but for their children.

Yesterday, I met another couple who have one child. They both have jobs with two relatively good incomes. They do not qualify for public housing because of their income. They do not qualify for a mortgage because of their income. They are trapped in uncertain rental and they are weary. As they said, they feel broken. This is what the Government policy is doing. It is breaking people and it is breaking society. The Irish Glass Bottle site should be a real opportunity for people to be housed in decent, safe and secure accommodation. However, this will not happen with the plans the Government has for affordable housing.

On 8 July there will be a by-election, as the Minister knows as he was canvassing yesterday. Residents will have an opportunity to tell the Government they are fed up with its housing policy and they want public homes on public land. They want affordable homes and affordable rental that ordinary people can afford. This needs to be our town and not "Googletown".

We are in a housing crisis because the Government's plan is not working. We are in a housing crisis because the previous Government's plan did not work. The legacy left by Fine Gael's disastrous former housing Minister, Eoghan Murphy, from the by-election area of Dublin Bay South, is something our children and children's children will be the victims of for decades. This is unless real change happens. This is the change that Sinn Féin will deliver. This is not just some ideology. It is a fact and a simple strategy. Our housing policies put people before developers. They put workers and families before vultures and cuckoos. Our housing policies will allow families and workers to have a safe, secure and affordable roof over their heads.

I have seen some of the recent commentary by Fianna Fáil Deputies trying to distance themselves from the failed Fine Gael policies. Fianna Fáil likes to forget it was in a confidence and supply agreement with Fine Gael. What did Fianna Fáil have confidence in? Was it confidence in the supply of homes? Let me remind the Minister of what Fianna Fáil had so much confidence in. Not a single affordable home to buy or rent has been delivered by central government under Fine Gael. During Fine Gael's time in office, house prices have spiralled out of control throughout the State. In 2011, the average rent in the State was €781 per month. It is now €1,256. In Dublin it is €1,745, which is an increase of €10,000 a year. In my area of Clondalkin and Lucan, the average rent is more than €2,000 a month and rising. What exactly did Fianna Fáil have so much confidence in Fine Gael for?

The Government is just another form of confidence and supply. Fianna Fáil has taken the baton from Fine Gael. Ordinary workers and families are still struggling with the lack of affordability in housing. The Government keeps making the same mistakes. It continues to prop up developers and investment funds. It is ignoring the advice of experts. Sinn Féin has a plan to build homes and cut rents and will implement this when in government.

People need to get a secure roof over their heads so they can put down roots. The right to a home should be one of the pillars of our society. The motion calls for genuinely affordable homes on the Irish Glass Bottle site in the Poolbeg strategic development zone to be delivered. I commend everyone who has campaigned for public housing on the site. One thing the Government can do is seek to have NAMA's 20% interest in the Poolbeg lands transferred to South Dublin County Council. If real affordable homes are not delivered on this site it will be another example of Fine Gael's dismal housing record that has been supported fully by Fianna Fáil.

The sale of the Irish Glass Bottle site at Poolbeg to the Ronan group and its consortium will prove to be a profitable cash cow for these private developers. There is a proposal to build 3,500 new homes on this important site, which has been in State hands for more than a decade. However, the motivation of private developers is to maximise their profits and sell off the houses at the highest possible price. House prices have increased by 13% in the past year, with people now paying an average of €34,000 more for a home than last year. In Dublin, the average house price now ranges from between €350,000 and €600,000. Even the lowest price range of €350,000 cannot be in any way regarded as affordable for a vast majority of people.

The money invested in the former Irish Glass Bottle site would suggest that prices on homes in this development will be out of the reach of most people. If this is the case that arises, it will be nothing short of scandalous at a time when people are struggling to get on the property ladder or even rent a home. The previous housing Minister was offered a site by NAMA at a 50% reduction.

If he had followed through and bought the site, it could have been given over to a local authority which could have enhanced the number of social and affordable houses being delivered. Instead, he refused the offer and, true to form for a Fine Gael Minister imposing Fine Gael policies, not a single affordable home to buy or rent has been delivered centrally by the Government.

NAMA and the Minister for Finance have conceded that they are clueless as to what the rent or sale price for affordable homes on the site will be. It was a condition of the planning for the 3,500 homes that 15% of the units would be affordable and 10% would be social housing. The Minister has, to date, indicated that as regards apartments, a price of up to €450,000 is affordable. What price would the Minister envisage for new homes in this development? I can see a situation whereby those who were born and raised in the area, in particular around the Ringsend and Irishtown area, will not be able to afford these homes and will have to move out of the area.

At the moment, there is nothing to stop vulture funds buying up large numbers of these homes and renting them out at exorbitant prices. What guarantees can the Minister give that vulture funds will not once again take from a diminishing housing stock? Is the Minister concerned that the developer could possibly offer to give 15% affordable and 10% social housing on another site other than this one to fulfil his obligations? In the interests of social inclusion and integration, there should be a proper mix throughout the development of social, affordable and private homes. We should not have a situation, as has often been the case in the past, where social and affordable housing is lumped into one corner of a development. There are serious concerns in the community about this development that have not been addressed. Many of these concerns have been raised by local organisations such as the Irish Glass Bottle Housing Action Group. It feels that the community is being ignored. These communities deserve better and they deserve to be heard.

I thank Deputy Ó Broin and his colleagues for tabling the motion. It is timely and useful. I will not oppose it. I will not engage in a political back-and-forth with the three previous speakers because this is a very serious issue.

I agree with Deputy Ó Broin that this is a very important strategic site. It is not the only important strategic site in Dublin but is probably the most significant. I want to see it developed. I remind Deputies Ward, Andrews and Ellis that one of the reasons we talk about affordable housing is because I have prioritised the provision of affordable housing. The most comprehensive affordable housing legislation ever published was brought to the House by me and will conclude before 14 July. I am pleased to remind the Deputies that they are all supporting that Bill. I welcome that support. The Bill has not been opposed. In the interests of working together to deliver homes to people, that needs to happen.

I cannot answer for 2019 because I was not Minister at the time. I know the site well. I was there yesterday evening. The intelligence unit in the party opposite is working well. I met residents there and discussed the site with them. It is not the first time I have met them. I met the Irish Glass Bottle Housing Action Group and residents group in March with the Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan, and my colleague, Deputy Jim O'Callaghan. I met them yesterday with Councillor Deirdre Conroy. It is a significant site and we need to deliver sociable and affordable homes at scale. I want sites like this and other sites, such as the Oscar Traynor site, moved on. We need to get on with it at this stage.

There are a couple of elements we can help with in order to do that. One is the Affordable Housing Bill, part of which changes the serviced site fund into the affordable housing fund. We will be able to increase the subvention for affordable housing to address some of the affordability issues. I am looking at areas where affordability is far more acute, such as Dublin and Cork. I signalled in the debate on the Land Development Agency Bill that I hoped some Deputies opposite might change their position and see their way to supporting it. In Dublin and Cork I propose that we provide 100% affordable and social housing on State-owned land through the Land Development Agency as well, and we need to do that.

How do we move the Poolbeg site on? When I, together with the Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan, and Deputy Jim O'Callaghan, met residents in March, I said to them that I believe it is important that we get stakeholders around the table. The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage has a role in this, as does DCC has a role in this, the developer and the builder. As I said to residents yesterday when I met them, we will convene that round-table group. We need to work through the financials. We need progress in this area. While I know it is not coincidental that the motion has been tabled in advance of a by-election in Dublin Bay South, nevertheless it is useful because this could be an exemplar for how we deliver affordable, social and private homes at scale in an area where Deputy Ellis has rightly said we need to have a mix of tenure and different types of families.

Deputy Andrews said the Government's affordable housing approach is breaking our people. If anything, there are three things that I stand by and have made an absolute priority in the year since I have been Minister. One is tackling homelessness. That has to be the number one priority, and we are seeing a continued reduction in it. The second relates to providing social homes at a scale never seen before in the history of the State. That is why it is backed with the biggest single budget in the history of the State, comprising €3.2 billion for housing. We need to do more and see that delivery. I remind the Deputies opposite that they opposed that budget. The third is the delivery of affordable housing for working people. I believe in homeownership and that it is an honest and just aspiration for people to have. We should support it. The State should be part of doing that and right now, the State is the biggest builder.

Post pandemic, we need to start to deliver these schemes at scale. There is vast potential in Poolbeg. I understand from talking to residents there is a further plan that will be brought forward, which I want to see. I want to get their views on that. I want to get Dublin City Council and other stakeholders, including NAMA, around the table, which I will do. If this is done properly at Poolbeg it could be an exemplar for sites all around the country.

The Leas-Cheann Comhairle is from Galway. We can provide housing on State-owned lands in the docklands area of Galway city, as well as in the north docks in Cork, in Waterford and other areas where the State is involved through the affordable housing fund. That is the legislation we will pass in the House which I have worked on since last July to ensure that we have the legislative foundations to be able to provide State subventions for affordable housing for purchase. Not only that, we also want to provide cost rental housing. There are massive opportunities there.

In the Affordable Housing Bill, we will establish on a primary legislative footing, for the first time ever, a national cost rental scheme, a national scheme for affordable purchase for delivery of direct build affordable homes by our local authorities and a new and innovative shared equity scheme for first-time buyers, homeowners and people who are stuck in rip-off rental situations at the moment. They will be able to buy a home and pay less than half of the amount they are currently paying in rent in a mortgage. That is what want to do.

I welcome the motion, debate and contributions. I look forward to working with Deputies across the House to deliver on Poolbeg because it is incumbent on us and the Government – I say this as Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage – that we see progress on this site. We want progress not just on Poolbeg and the Irish Glass Bottle site but in areas like Oscar Traynor on the other side of the city and sites all over this country. That is what I intend to do.

We need to deliver at least 33,000 public and private homes per annum. This year, because of Covid, we will be short by 20,000 units. In the meantime, we need to provide hope for working people that they will have a scheme whereby they will be able to buy homes at an affordable rate or rent their homes at affordable rates through State-backed secure rents, as well as increasing the provision of social housing, which I very much intend to do, backed by real financing.

In short, and in conclusion, I intend to meet the residents again. I will do that within a short space of time, along with public representatives, but first with stakeholders. I said to residents yesterday that I did not want to do so in advance of the Dublin Bay South by-election for fear that it might be seen or the charge might be made that it was for some party political reason that I was doing so.

I met them in March. I have been progressing the Department's position. There is a way forward.

I look forward to working with Members like Deputy Andrews, who represent that constituency and spokespersons from other parties on delivering homes not just on this site, but thousands of other homes on hundreds of other sites across the country. Individuals and parties need to be aware of their responsibility and that of their local authority members to support housing developments in their communities. We are in the midst of a housing crisis that is fixable. We have the expertise, know-how and resources to make significant strides in that regard, but we cannot put up with continued delays and objections from certain local authority members across the country. We need to get on with delivering homes for our people. I hope that a consensus can be agreed with residents and stakeholders on delivering at scale in Poolbeg.

I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle for the opportunity to speak on this Private Members' motion. I thank the Minister for his speech.

"Affordable" and "housing" are two words that do not often seem to go together in the State. Nor will they while we have a government ideology that leaves housing, which is one of our most basic human needs, at the mercy of the markets. What a mercy the market is. According to The Irish Times yesterday, house prices in Dublin have been surging by €1,500 per week since March. The bank of mammy and daddy, so beloved by the Minister's colleagues, would have to be a mega-bank to afford to keep up with those prices. For those who do not have the bank of mammy and daddy, the news is especially worrying, as it is for those who cannot manage to save anything and are barely hanging on after a year and a half of the Covid-19 pandemic. When people live from week to week or month to month and their salaries go straight out the door to pay for the rent or mortgage, food, the other basics of living and perhaps a take-away on a Friday night, there is not a whole lot left for trips, socialising, shopping or entertainment. They are at the pin of their collar. They are the pillars of our State, running to stand still and just about keeping going.

It is for these hard-working people that we need the 900 affordable homes in Poolbeg, which is what necessitated this motion. When it comes to their housing needs, they are ignored by Fine Gael, under whose tenure house prices increased by 88% nationally and 95% in Dublin. All of this was according to the plan of the former Minister, Mr. Michael Noonan. It was just what he had intended.

This is a Government that wants to shoo our young people, our best and brightest, into co-living - the new tenements, with bargain basement living standards at top dollar prices. Our hard-working adult children are shrinking their housing dreams to fit the profit need and greed of the favoured few. This is a Government that has given us tent cities cheek by jowl with penthouse living, believes in making housing a privilege and has not provided a single affordable home to buy or rent thus far. In 2011, the average rent across the State was €781 per month. In 2021, I know a woman in north Kildare who is paying €780 per month for a single room in a house, the bank having taken away the home on which she had spent a small fortune down the years in a mortgage. I am dealing with a stream of mortgage-approved young couples who cannot buy a home because they are being outbid at every turn. The cuckoos come and throw them out of their potential nests. Other couples in good jobs cannot even get mortgage approval.

All of this ruinous expense and ruinous experience is on the backs of our workers. It is cheap and vulgar. It degrades us as a society and diminishes us as a people. When people see their most basic need - the need for a home - left to the tyranny of the market, it tells them that they are less than, that they and their needs do not matter in the important business of the State. If housing its people, either through rent or purchase, is not important business for any state, then what is?

In north Kildare, I know many people who are hanging on by a thread because of housing. They are of all ages, from babies to the elderly, and they are all in crisis. The Minister should be in no doubt that there is a crisis. I am glad that he said that. For these people and the State, it is a humanitarian crisis of your making which we have to solve.

In your unguarded and unmanaged moments, the Minister's Government talks about public housing as free housing when it is no such thing. This demeaning and totally incorrect talk shows that you do not have a clue what you are talking about on public housing. You do not even know how it works. In public housing, everyone pays rent according to his or her means, but that you persist, and that your colleagues persist, in the myth of free housing shows your dislike and distrust of people who cannot afford to buy a home of their own. None of us knows how our own lives will turn out-----

I have been listening to the Member. She has made charges against me concerning things that I did not say, nor have I ever.

I said "your colleague" Minister.

She should withdraw them because they are just wrong and she knows it.

Minister, I said "your colleagues in Government".

The Deputy will not be let away with her propaganda this evening.

Let the Deputy complete-----

Maybe the Minister should check out the comments of his colleagues in government.

Go away out of that. You referred to me. I never said that.

They called it free housing. The Minister interrupted me and was so glib and dismissive.

The only people getting free housing in this country are the cuckoos, vultures and developers with their cash cow leases. I suggest the Minister educates himself about who he is in bed with. He seems unable to grasp that.

Put social and affordable housing back on the Poolbeg site. A price of €450,000 is not affordable. Do not pretend that Sinn Féin has caused this housing crisis. Do not bottle it.

Gabhaim buíochas leis an Teachta Ó Broin as an deis a thabhairt dúinn an ghné seo a phlé tríd an rún seo a chur os comhair na Dála. Tá sé ríthábhachtach go dtarlaíonn sé sin agus go dtarlaíonn sé ag an am a bhfuil an pobal i ngéarchéim thithíochta agus ag am a bhfuil an deis ag an bpobal, i bhfothoghchán nó aon toghchán eile, marc a dhéanamh ar pháipéar i gcoinne iad siúd atá tar éis suí ar cheist agus géarchéim thithíochta le blianta.

This motion highlights a scandal. It is a scandal that the State was offered land at a discount but did not take up that offer. In fact, the exact opposite happened, in that the State seemed to do everything in its power to avoid taking land that could have been used for people who were crying out for housing, be it for rental or purchase, including private purchase. That possibility was not afforded to them by this Government, the previous Government or the one before that. The housing crisis did not appear out of nowhere. It has been caused by years of inaction and a lack of investment.

Every time I have spoken about housing recently, the criers on the Government backbenches have said that we object to this, that and the other, but I do not object willy-nilly. My record stands for itself in supporting proper housing throughout the country. I support social and affordable housing on public land. I support private housing on private land. I do not support dog boxes, which the previous housing Minister wanted to build on many of the estates and other areas that had been designated for residential use.

It is time to act. The Minister has at long last started to move towards affordable purchase and affordable rental, but this problem was highlighted to this and recent Governments. Take St. Michael's estate as an example. For how many years has it been demolished? A house, be it affordable or social, has still not been built there. It is public land. I could list a range of public lands in my area. There are also lands in respect of which the State has not even bothered speaking to its State partners, for example, CIÉ, which has 30 acres in my constituency that are unused.

I would support housing being built on that land, as promised way back in 2008 to 2009. There are Office of Public Works, OPW, lands next door to it, on which there was planning for 300 houses. The OPW stores desks and tables on it. We have been to the fore with regard to Cherry Orchard in trying to ensure the same type of housing we are talking about here; private, for-purchase, affordable housing and affordable rental and social housing on the public section. That is what is needed. It is not just needed on the Irish Glass Bottle site, which I know well from my youth, but on every single piece of land.

However, it is not good enough to be talking about it. The councils need to be invested in to make sure they can deliver. The scandal the Minister is trying to create by building up the Land Development Agency, which will interfere with the democratic rights of citizens and councillors across this city, also needs to be ended. I can list off a range of areas which need to be developed and developed quickly. It is not just a matter of saying "we want to do this". It needs to be done as quickly as possible and that has not been seen by this Government or the previous four governments.

People will start emigrating in droves again, as they did in the past when there were no opportunities for them. In this case, they do not have the opportunity to have houses.

I thank the proposers of the motion and Deputy Ó Broin for bringing it to the House today for discussion. The motion does not go for the jugular, as some motions would in this area. That is not a criticism of the motion, it is more a reflection of the complexity of the issue in terms of the lack of development of the Irish Glass Bottle site. That is understood by any group, politician, public representative or activist who has been involved in this issue over the past number of years.

Anyone who was unfamiliar with the area, in terms of canvassing door-to-door, but who has become familiar with it in the past number of weeks, as I have when canvassing for Ivana Bacik, knows how important the development of this area is to the people of Ringsend, Irishtown, Pearse Street, Sandymount and the surrounding areas. It is totemic in that area, in terms of how broken our housing policy has been for many years. With regard to the need to get this right and deliver on this site, the Minister used language in terms of having many important sites, but perhaps none more so than this, given its location and industrial history and how it was sustained by the workers of Dublin for so many years. It is the workers of Dublin who need to benefit from this, as it is developed.

At present, there is massive uncertainty as to whether that will happen. A considerable amount of legislation is coming through. We are having many debates. Only a couple of hours ago, we were in here debating planning legislation. I discussed the important role county and city councillors play in the planning and development process. I am proud of the role Labour councillors have played on this site in the past number of years.

I am not someone who comes in with fake bravado or history, in terms of what my party has done, but here it is credit where credit is due. When it came to the provision of social and affordable housing, a previous Minister, Deputy Coveney, said we would do no more than 10% and 300 houses was all that would be provided and there was no way more than that would be provided. This was backed up on the council by the Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil councillors at the time but the Labour group and the mayor at the time, Brendan Carr, and councillors such as Dermot Lacey who were local to the area, led and fought to ensure we had 350 social houses and more than 500 affordable houses included in this plan.

That is almost as much as the councillors can do, but that is a bigger argument which relates to the powers of councillors and we will come back to that in another debate. Now, it is up to this House, the Minister, the senior officials in Dublin City Council and, as this motion stated, the role of NAMA and how it can assist. The big players have to deliver on this site. There is concern and the reason I say this motion does not go for the jugular is it understands the complexity of the issue. It wants to deliver for the people of the community. It wants to deliver truly affordable housing.

We want the Bill the Government is bringing through on affordable housing to work. We have concerns it will not and it is in places such as the Poolbeg strategic housing development where the rubber will meet the road in terms of that affordable housing Bill. We are concerned because the developer and owners of the site, who will have huge control, have no track record in developing affordable housing or sustainable communities. They have a track record in developing prestigious buildings such as the one we are in now. That is their meat and drink. That is what they do.

However, they do not develop sustainable communities and that is what is needed down here. The eye-watering figures for rent and house prices in traditional working class areas, such as Ringsend and Irishtown, are an absolute scandal. The real worry is what will be developed in Poolbeg will be some prestigious community on a peninsula into the bay, which will be separated or almost gated - for want of a better term - and that it will not be integrated or part of the evolution of the communities down there and will be a place only very, very rich people can live and near which people of modest incomes will not be able to get.

People of modest incomes will not be able to get near it and people on modest incomes will not be able to afford it. This will be a community for the rich linked into the tech centre, the International Financial Services Centre, IFSC, and the centre of Dublin, but not the communities around it, communities which, through generations of work on that site, have invested their toil, sweat and tears in the hope that one day, the generations following them can continue to live there and develop their rich tradition. It is one of the many villages which exist in our city, among these great communities which are so vibrant and vital and of whose history we, as Dubliners, say we are so proud to share.

We are talking about 3,500 units. There could be 10,000 people living there. That is a big-sized town. This is not the development of a housing estate or a block of flats, this is the development of a new village, town and community. If that is not linked in properly with truly affordable public housing linked to the communities which exist down there, we, as a party, will be unable to support it.

The Minister is not opposing this. Everyone here wants the same goal, but will we get there? There are huge doubts at this time. There is a complex history to it. The action group down there has been consistent and worked with any public representative or any other community activist who wants the same thing down there, which is affordable, sustainable communities. We still seem as far away from that now as we were a number of years ago.

We know when polling day closes and a new Deputy is elected, this issue will not go away. This cannot just be a by-election issue. We know why this is brought here today and, fair enough, that is politics, but this is a day in day out issue for the people of Ringsend, Irishtown and the surrounding communities. This is their hope and that cannot be extinguished. It must be supported and delivered for those communities.

I thank Deputy Ó Broin for bringing this motion and it is positive the Minister is not opposing it. That is welcome. Unfortunately, the failure to acquire the Irish Glass Bottle site is a scandal and an example of a massive missed opportunity to ensure all the homes which would be built would be genuinely affordable or social and it is short-sighted. Reading through some of the correspondence from the Freedom of Information Act, FOI, which was reported on earlier this year, the Secretary General of the Department of housing at the time wrote we have a duty to ensure we are party to an agreement designed to deliver affordable housing and that we are clear the agreement can deliver that. The Secretary General went on to say the Department is being asked to provide very significant capital funding to buy a site with no clear pathway, thereafter, to the delivery of affordable housing.

I quote that correspondence because I do not believe this is an issue about officials and what they were doing. They were trying to do their jobs. The scandal here is a political scandal, that they did not know, if the site was bought, how the capital funding to deliver affordable homes would be secured for that. That is a failure of politics.

It is an absolute failure that what is happening now in the debate on housing and on what needs to happen in Ireland is that some of the strongest arguments being made, and arguments have been made in this House, on how we are going to finance it are being left to people such as those in the ESRI. They have to clearly say to the Government, repeatedly: "This is how you finance housing, this is how it can be done, this is how it is prudent to do it and, when you look at what Ireland can borrow and its economic growth, this is what can be achieved". We should not be in that situation. We should not be in a situation where that site was not acquired. It should have been acquired. It should be obvious to anyone who is passionate about this how the Government and the State could be availing of sufficient capital funding to acquire these types of sites to deliver affordable housing.

The Oscar Traynor Road site is related to this. A plan has been agreed by councillors on Dublin City Council to deliver affordable and social homes there. They are disappointed with the delays in the Department and by the Minister with regard to their wishes to advance that. They are disappointed at the lack of urgency. They want to advance it as quickly as possible and the ball is very much in the court of the Department and the Government to respond to that as fast as possible.

We have the resources in this country and we certainly have the know-how and technical expertise for affordable housing. There is no question about that. However, I question if there is the know-how and expertise at government level when it comes to affordable housing. Yesterday, on national radio, Professor John FitzGerald, speaking about the Government's Affordable Housing Bill and the shared equity scheme, in particular, said that it is a very bad idea for Ireland. He cited it as an example of politicians doing stupid things. He pointed out that property owners and landowners would benefit from it, not potential buyers. He was unequivocal about this. We know that a similar scheme in the UK led to a boom in profits for large developers.

The Central Bank, the ESRI, officials in the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform have all issued warnings on this. Indeed, a senior official wrote that the property industry wants an equity scheme because it will increase prices. Despite all this, there does not appear to be the know-how at government level to listen to expert advice when it comes to housing. The expert advice on this is incredibly clear as to what it will do, yet there does not appear to be the ability at senior political level in the Government to listen to that expert advice, take it on board and scrap a scheme that everybody knows will inflate house prices. The people lobbying for that scheme started lobbying for it at a time when we did not have the house price inflation that we currently have. In fact, the people lobbying for that scheme are the same people who lobbied for the strategic housing development legislation and told the Government at the time that it would lead to more housing delivery and a faster planning process. What has happened is a complete and utter shambles - a lack of delivery because of judicial reviews and everything else. That could have been pointed out by anybody familiar with the planning system. We must stand up to the corrosive influence of lobbyists on housing, and particularly stand up against what everyone knows will affect housing affordability. It is fine to talk about housing affordability, but to continue to advance a scheme that everyone knows will increase house prices further makes no sense.

The method of delivery in the Poolbeg site and similar sites is very important for achieving affordability. There is no question about that. We will not achieve the level of affordability that is necessary for people on average incomes if we continue to rely on private sector delivery. We need only look at the details of proposals submitted by developers under Part V in any of the developments they are advancing to see how they are more expensive than other methods of delivery by not-for-profit or local authority led delivery. That is because they are paying higher finance costs. We know from schemes such as the Ó Cualann Cohousing Alliance scheme in Dun Emer, Lusk, in the Minister's constituency, and there are density reasons for it as well which we must acknowledge, that delivery at much more affordable prices can be done and is done, with prices from €166,000 to €258,000 in Dun Emer, yet we hear reports of potential prices for affordable homes in Poolbeg at as much as €600,000. Who delivers matters, if we are going to address this properly.

In conclusion, there have been clear warnings in the last few weeks from the Central Bank, for example, about significant house price growth in the near to medium term. The Irish housing market report from the Bank of America has warned about rising construction costs and how this will hinder the supply of new homes here and fuel a further increase in house prices. The real estate firm, JLL Ireland, has predicted potential price increases of 7% in Dublin this year. There have been warnings from various housing experts, including Lorcan Sirr, Karl Dieter and Jim Power, that house prices could soon hit Celtic tiger levels. Indeed, the report for the Cabinet housing committee has warned against demand side policies and how that could create house price inflation. Despite all those warnings, the Government is advancing a proposal to increase house prices further, and it continues to support the sale of land and failure to acquire land for affordable and social housing, as in this instance. It is time for a different approach on this.

I thank Deputy Ó Broin for bringing forward this important motion relating to Poolbeg and the Irish Glass Bottle site. I am also glad that the Government has decided not to oppose the motion. I pay tribute to the Irish Glass Bottle Housing Action Group. I was an invited speaker at its launch meeting many years ago. I cannot remember how many years ago and that, in itself, tells a story because we still do not have any public and affordable housing on that site. The reason I was invited is that I face a similar situation in my constituency with Cherrywood, another massive development site where there is the same scandal. Not only is there the scandal with this site that there was a possible arrangement for NAMA to sell it to Dublin City Council, which did not happen for unexplained reasons, but the big scandal, as I have repeated many times here, is the fact that we had the biggest real estate company in the world in the form of NAMA, we had vast amounts of land and property with which we could have solved the housing crisis and we did precisely the wrong thing with it by handing it back to private developers and reinforcing the dynamics that had created the housing and homelessness crisis we are dealing with now. For me, that is the biggest scandal.

We had it in Cherrywood as well. Just as in Poolbeg and the Irish Glass Bottle Site, we have no clue, more than a decade later and with building taking place in Cherrywood, what price the affordable housing will be, and we have no clue how much affordable housing we will get on that site. Incidentally, the Minister's intervention to increase the 10% to 10% social and affordable will make no difference to Cherrywood.

Tens of millions of euro have gone into Cherrywood to build the roads, parks and the rest of the infrastructure. That was supposed to be conditional on the delivery of affordable housing. It is a telling indictment that after all that time and investment, we still have no clue what the price of the so-called affordable housing will be or how much affordable housing we will get on the site, which had previously been entirely in public ownership under NAMA. That is an absolute scandal.

As has been said, the timing of this motion is linked to a by-election. There is nothing wrong with that when an election should precisely be an opportunity to champion the issues and causes that will make a difference to the areas involved. I commend Deputy Ó Broin on doing this. Our candidate in that by-election is someone who will directly benefit if we can deliver some public and affordable housing, as she lives in Ringsend and her family are from Ringsend. She is a young worker in her early 20s on a modest income in an ordinary job. As she repeats endlessly on the campaign canvas, and she means it because it is the truth, she has no chance of ever being able to own her own house and very little chance, as is the case with most social housing applicants, of getting a council house this side of the next decade or more, as things stand.

It is urgent that we get housing development right at locations like those at Poolbeg and the Irish Glass Bottle site. It is also urgent that we try to rescue the situation in Cherrywood, one of the biggest residential developments in the country. Ronan Group Real Estate is also involved with that development. This should be a warning to the people of Ringsend and Irishtown because the guide prices being boasted about are in the region of €500,000 for three and four-bedroom houses. If those are going to be the sort of prices charged, it will be of no use to the ordinary working people of my area and will be of no use to people in Irishtown, Ringsend and surrounding areas.

I will put this really bluntly. I see no point in building houses of any description at that price. The only thing we should be doing with the land we can get hold of is delivering public and genuinely affordable housing. We should also be stating clearly what "affordable" actually means. We have put forward an amendment to this motion to state that affordability should be linked to income. Affordability is not a movable feast depending on which part of the city or country people live in. As I have said many times, gardaí, teachers and workers in retail on minimum wages are not paid higher wages because they live in Irishtown, Ringsend, Dún Laoghaire, Galway or Cork People but the costs of rent and house prices are far higher in those areas.

When the State refers to "affordable" housing, which we must deliver at scale, affordable must be affordable for everybody. There should be no discrimination based on what part of the country people are living in. This is the problem with the Government’s notions about affordability. It is not clearly set out in the Affordable Housing Bill 2021 how exactly the resulting housing provision will be affordable. The Land Development Agency Bill 2021 and the Affordable Housing Bill 2021 contain references to the market, market prices and discounts on market prices. That is no good. It is just no good and there should be no reference to those matters. The market is the problem and it is not able to deliver stuff that ordinary working people can afford.

Let us be absolutely clear. I do not know if the Minister will agree with this point and references to lobbyists, but the big property developers have no interest in the State being able to deliver affordable housing that is genuinely affordable for working people. The reason is that if the State builds and sells housing at €200,000 or €250,000 on any type of scale while a property developer is also trying to build similar houses and sell them for €400,000 or €500,000 a few hundred yards down the road, that private property developer, from his point of view, has a problem. He wants to profit and to be able to sell at those very high prices. Why on earth, then, would he want to see housing that is similar being built at scale and sold at half the price?

The lobbying from these people is about their self-interest and they must be written out of the picture when it comes to the State delivering public and affordable housing. I do not care about developers. Let them look after themselves on private land. Frankly, when they are sitting on private land or private property that they are hoarding, speculating on and manipulating the market with, I would take it from them. The problem is that they own too much of the land and they are dictating market prices and rents and now they are trying to move in on the public land bank via the Land Development Agency.

I support the motion and I am glad the Minister of State is not going to oppose it. I have been campaigning and supporting the campaign to get public and affordable housing on the site since it started. It is a sad indictment that we still do not know whether the housing will be affordable. It is a scandal that people like Mr. Ronan ever got hold of such large portions of that land. We need affordability to be based on people’s incomes. To my mind, as our amendment suggests, that should mean that people should not have to spend more than 25% of their income on putting a roof over their head. Do we work to live or do we live to work? People paying 40%, 50%, 60% or 70% of their income on just putting a roof over their heads - if they are even able to get a roof over their heads - are living to work and not working to live. They are slaves to extortionate house prices and rents. We must end that scandalous situation by delivering genuinely affordable housing for working people.

I welcome this opportunity to speak about the issue of housing. In the few minutes I have, I will concentrate on the serious lack of funding afforded to Irish Water to ensure we have suitable land serviced for development. People are telling me that this lack of resources means Irish Water is becoming an impediment to the delivery of construction and the built environment. Applications for planning permission for significant areas of zoned land in different locations are being deemed premature because inadequate water or wastewater services are available. This problem is compounded by the lack of a programme of work to indicate when these zoned lands will be serviced by Irish Water.

I will give the small example of Athenry, County Galway, which is at the crossroads of motorways. A developer submitting an application in respect of a strategic housing development, SHD, was told by Irish Water two years ago that it would support him. However, when he went to the company to get the letter to bring to An Bord Pleanála he was told it was premature and to come back in 2023 or 2024 when Irish Water would see if it had the network in place at that stage. The last words used were “pending funding”.

We must grapple with this issue and address the time it takes to get quotations and subsequent water and wastewater connections from Irish Water. The cost of Irish Water connections is excessive. People trying to build tell me that Irish Water is being strangled by insufficient funding being made available to carry out the duties we imposed on the company when we set it up. Many projects which were on the agenda before Irish Water came into being have disappeared in areas overseen by Galway County Council and every other local authority around the country.

We must significantly increase Irish Water's capital budget so that it has the financial resources to plan and deliver projects. The utility must prepare a programme of what will be delivered over the next five years and have the money to back it up. Irish Water has the potential to help us to get out of this crisis but the way we are funding it or, rather, holding back on funding it means we are pulling against ourselves.

During the debate earlier today on the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill, we heard about many of the issues that are arising but one particular problem is the lack of services on sites, especially water and wastewater services. We are not putting the investment in where it is needed. If we want serviced land that is ready to build houses on, and if we want to provide a supply chain, we must start with the sites and make sure they are serviced. At the moment, we do not have that.

We are introducing a lot of legislation and new initiatives and I welcome the fact that we are bringing affordability into housing. I also welcome the shared equity scheme but I cannot figure out how we are going to deliver a sufficient volume of houses over the next five to ten years to meet the demand that exists. Deputies spoke about developers making a killing because the supply is being squeezed and that is what it is all about. Supply is being squeezed and we are squeezing it ourselves with the policies we have laid out and by not providing the resources where they are needed. Supply must be delivered right across this country, in the regions as well as in the major cities, because every town and village has a housing crisis.

I endorse everything Deputy Canney has just said. All across the country, including in many of our provincial towns, the rapidly increasing price of property is the direct result of the lack of availability of property and serviced land.

I want to take a step back and focus on the low-hanging fruit. While there is no doubt that we have a huge challenge in servicing land, opening it up for development and building new houses, we also have a substantial number of derelict buildings across the country. This is housing stock that could be put back onto the market relatively quickly and we cannot continue to ignore it. I am like a broken record, consistently raising this issue in the House and there are a number of aspects to it. I have been highlighting that for a serviced site being developed in Dublin, the State is paying an average of €30,714 but is not providing any assistance to refurbish derelict buildings in our towns and villages. I hope we will see that rectified in an announcement by the Minister next month but we need to go further on this.

Another issue that I have been highlighting consistently is that of older people in housing that is totally unsuited to their needs. Many are in two or three-storey houses which are too large to heat and they would love to move to smaller accommodation but there are two challenges in that regard. The first is the lack of availability of such accommodation and the second is the lack of security of tenure if they do move into such accommodation. There is a lack of one-bedroom and two-bedroom bungalows in the private housing market for older people to either purchase or rent. The only such accommodation is generally local authority housing and any older person with an existing property is not eligible for it. We need to take a proactive step, working in partnership with the private sector, to develop one-bedroom and two-bedroom bungalows in cluster-type settings close to town centres so that older people have the option to downsize.

In many cases, accommodation will be leased to older people. In that context, we need to introduce special legislation to provide security of tenure. I have raised this issue at the Cabinet table previously. We must provide security of tenure to older people. We have seen tax incentives provided in some retirement villages associated with nursing homes across the country to encourage older people to downsize while allowing them to continue to live independently beside amenities that meet their needs.

I draw attention to a case that I brought to the attention of the Minister's predecessor. Mary sold her home and moved to an unfurnished apartment in one of the aforementioned retirement villages back in 2011. There was an issue regarding ownership and the rent was not index-linked. Suddenly Mary was faced with an increase in her rent of 86%, from €430 to €800 per month. People on fixed incomes cannot be faced with such situations. If we are going to encourage older people to downsize, we must address this issue. I have raised this with the Minister directly but nothing is being done about it. We can pay lip service to the concept of downsizing but older people need security. Such security is not being provided to them in law at the moment and that needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

Before we move on to the next speaker, I must ask Deputy Boyd-Barrett to formally move his amendment.

I move amendment No.1:

To insert the following after “until a satisfactory plan for the delivery of affordable homes is secured”:

“— affordable shall be defined as a price that ensures the tenant or owner is not paying more than 25 per cent of their earnings on either mortgage or rent; and

— where the NAMA lands are transferred to DCC, the homes on this portion of the land will all be social or affordable.”

I am glad to get the opportunity to talk about affordable housing because it is a very serious problem. There are many young couples watching us this evening who are wondering if they will ever be able to put a roof over their heads. It is a natural desire for any couple or young person to put a roof over their heads and to own their home but it is becoming increasingly difficult because of the cost of materials and the difficulties with securing planning permission in rural areas, especially in rural parts of Kerry.

I spoke earlier about difficulties with designations that are applied on the insistence of the regulator and the planning authorities which must be adhered to by the local authorities. One problem is the urban generated pressure clause which was designed, wrongly, to stop people coming out from towns and villages and building in rural areas. It is also wrong because it stops a local person in the area from getting planning permission because such permission will only be granted to the landowner's son or daughter. That clause is wrong because people should be entitled to get planning permission to build where they want to build their permanent residence. I would not mind a clause being put on them if they got the permission and they would not mind it either. That is one of the issues.

The regulator is blocking people from getting planning permission in other rural areas and insisting that permission not be granted in different places. Then, when planning is granted by Kerry County Council some nasty individual appeals the decision to An Bord Pleanála, as An Taisce has done many times, making life miserable for many families. Kerry County Council grants the permission, someone appeals it to An Bord Pleanála and even though the inspector who comes down agrees with the local authority, lo and behold, when the decision goes back to An Bord Pleanála it is refused for some reason and the couple or young person are denied the planning permission they should have got.

I agree with previous speakers on sewerage and water facilities. In Kerry, we have 32 villages without a sewerage facility. Places like Scartaglin, Curragh, Asdee, Caherdaniel and Ballinskellligs cannot expand or grow because they do not have a sewerage facility. As has been said, the Government and the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications will have to step in and assist Irish Water because it does not have the funds to put all these schemes in place. All that Irish Water is compelled and liable to do is maintain the facilities that are there already and it is put to the pin of its collar doing that. In places like Kenmare or Castleisland, people can get planning permission for a development but they cannot build the houses until the sewerage schemes are put in place, extended and expanded. Some 17 towns and villages are waiting on plans to rejuvenate and bring their sewerage schemes up to standard.

The regulator is continuously interfering with zoning and it is dezoning lands. We have Ministers saying they want to build affordable houses. How can housing and affordable housing be built if most of the land in any one settlement is being dezoned? In most cases, the regulator will only allow one plot of land in each settlement to be zoned. That is wrong because it gives the individual in question or the side of the village or town where the plot a monopoly and the owner can charge what he or she likes. We are talking about affordability but that is out the window when there is no competition for prices.

As I have said previously, we should zone plenty of land and let the market decide where the houses will be built. Alternatively, we should not zone any land and let every planning application be decided either by the local authority or An Bord Pleanála, depending on its size. If we forgot about zoning, it would be way fairer as it would allow single applicants to buy a site close to the village or town and build on it because the land would not have to be zoned, as it must be at present. I had a case recently involving a young couple in a small village who applied for planning permission outside of the village and they were refused because the land was not zoned. They could not buy a site in the little village or town because it was not available. The Ministers have to wake up to these facts.

I heard Deputy Naughten talking about building social housing or two-bedroom bungalows for older people. I would like to take him down to Rathmore in Kerry where Jerh O'Donoghue and the Rathmore Social Action Group have been successfully housing elderly couples and even single people for years. The group should be complimented, especially Mr. O'Donoghue on the foresight and vision he had in what he has done and what he is continuing to do with his team around him. I also compliment Michael Cronin of Thermohouse Ireland on the great work it is doing in building voluntary social housing in Killarney, Milltown and different towns and villages. I also compliment KPH Construction, which is doing much the same in Barraduff. It deserves credit for the high standard of houses it is building.

On felling licences, we hear about the increased cost of materials and timber, which is going up and up. Anyone who wants timber to build a house in Kerry must wait for six weeks for delivery and suppliers will not know or cannot tell people what the price will be until they land with the timber because it is going up and up in price and is being imported. At the same time, in Germany and other countries, no felling licence is required because when someone plants forestry it is recognised that it will have to be cut down at some stage. If people were granted permission to plant forestry, they should not need a felling licence, either to thin or clearfell it at any time. The quicker we realise that, the better because our forestry industry has gone down the swanny. Job after job is being lost and contractors that had specialised gear and equipment for cutting and drawing out timber, including forwarders and all those kind of things, have either gone to Scotland or they have gone bust. The Government will have to wake up to the fact that this is happening. I hope it is listening because it is a serious matter. More things are being lost during the reign of this Government than during any previous Government, and this is one of the most serious of them.

On the tenant purchase scheme, a number of years ago, people could rent out a council house and after a year or two or a number of years, they were entitled to purchase it under a scheme. Some 80% of the applicants to the scheme are being refused. The Government needs to look at that scheme because it was an important and valuable one. People got on their feet after renting for a certain number of years and they were able to purchase their house. They are being denied that option that was in place all the years past. That money was used to do up voids. We have 162 voids in Kerry because the county council has no funds to bring them up to the standard that is required. That is a very serious matter and if the Government is talking about affordable houses and all of that, it has to look at all of those things.

I am supposed to be joined by colleagues but if they do not come in, I will ramble on. I welcome the opportunity to speak on this Private Members' motion. There is no doubt that the glass bottle site is important for Dublin housing. It needs to be discussed with the by-election that is even more important, particularly when there is a possible seat to be won. I am not going to speak about the site. I am sure many more speakers more eloquent than I am will talk about it but they might actually know about it as well. The site is symbolic of the malaise that has affected housing in this State and of the Government's faith in the private sector to deliver when it clearly cannot and will not.

There is a need to discuss housing in every part of the country so I will confine my comments to Donegal. You would think that it should not need to be stated again but there is a need for a massive housebuilding programme in every county and town. Last year, 34 houses were allocated in Donegal town. That might seem like a lot for a town but there were over 1,600 people on the waiting list for those houses. By my reckoning, it would take about 40 such developments to deal with the list. At this rate, it will probably take 100 years, and that is if nobody else is added to it. That shows the extent of the problem we are dealing with.

Given that the housing list is artificially low due to the manipulation of the figures on the waiting list by the Department, this is significant.

The Department only allows people with incomes below €25,000 a year onto the list in Donegal, with an increase for children which means that anyone with an income above €28,000 a year will not get on the list at all. This means thousands of people will never get to buy a home in Donegal and will not have a hope of getting a council house either. That is a sad failing of our Government. We must have a Government that is committed to local authorities providing the solution to the housing issue if we are going to deal with it. It is amazing how reluctant local authorities are to try anything new or innovative to deal with the problems they have. It must be that they are afraid of offending the Government, perhaps because they will be looking for work in the future or do not want to rock the boat when funding comes around. This all gives the Department considerable influence over what happens across our local authorities.

The Department also oversees the delivery of housing down to the smallest development, so it is no wonder we have a housing crisis. The Department should be providing overall direction to local authorities and not micromanaging the delivery of houses. Every stage of a housing development must be approved by the Department in order to make progress. Local authorities are not allowed to progress development, and that is the reality. What knowledge would somebody in the Custom House have about a site in Glencolmcille, Burtonport or any number of towns in Donegal? If you want to control the spending of money and ensure it is not spent or is only spent on particular developers or types of development, that is the way to do it. That is, sadly, what this situation is about. That is what is happening.

If the Minister wanted to make sure that local authorities would develop housing in a way that would meet the needs of a county, he would give the authority the means and head to do it. We should give a county an allocation and audit it to make sure it develops the proper types and locations of houses. Let the county council deliver the housing itself. The Minister should eventually make councillors responsible for the delivery because we would then have real local development and not the sham we have at the moment whereby councillors pretend they are in control of the council and then wring their hands when the council does not deliver. Overall, that would be better for the community, local authorities and the Government because the Government and the Dáil could then start to focus on other priorities and responsibility for decision-making and delivery would lie where they should, that is, at local level. That is vital. That is how housing could be delivered across the board. It is possible. It would take a change of mindset and of Government, but it could happen. We do not need the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications going to Donegal, cutting the tape on a 30-house development and declaring the job done. We need Donegal County Council to deliver those houses and for the Minister to ask whether the council is doing it right and in the way we want it done. That is all the Department needs to do. The Department is about the control of money, not the delivery of houses, and that is the reality of the situation. That is the problem impeding everything that has to happen.

If the Minister wants to deal properly with the issues, he should make the local authorities deal with them and make the councillors responsible. We must avoid the fiasco of councillors wringing their hands, saying they cannot deliver, and running and hiding when the local authority will not do it either. That is the problem across the board.

There are also issues relating to voluntary housing bodies. People in Ardagh, County Donegal, want to get a project off the ground. The voluntary housing body is there and already has a scheme that provides sheltered housing for all people who need it, including, for example, people who require a level of care that is below nursing home requirements. Those people can live and be looked after in their local communities. There is a desire to expand and deliver further on that project but, of course, there is no funding available. The Department cannot allocate any funding because the people who would be targeted are people with houses but who are incapable of staying in them on their own and, therefore, do not come under the responsibility of the council in terms of housing because they have a property. Those people could be facilitated to stay in their local communities rather than going into nursing homes but in that case they would not be giving bundles of money to the private sector. They would be giving money to the community. It would be a way to maintain the vitality of communities, which is crucial. That is the kind of thing local authorities should be allowed and encouraged to do. The Department can make sure the local authorities are spending the money properly rather than suggesting authorities should buy this site or that site. The Department should not control local authorities in that way. The Department controls the purchase of a site and the way in which a project goes to tender. The Department is micromanaging housing across the country.

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak. Perhaps I have not spoken to the motion but I have spoken about housing, which is a vital issue. I hope the Government might take on board what I have said but I doubt it.

I thank all the Deputies for their contributions. The Government firmly believes that home ownership and more affordable rental is essential for our society. We have put delivery, affordability and the chance to own your own home at the heart of our housing policy. In not opposing this motion, the Government points towards our shared goal to deliver affordable housing and makes clear, as is laid out in the programme for Government, that its actions will be guided by the core principle that everybody should have access to good quality housing to purchase or rent.

The programme for Government lays out the many actions the Government is taking to improve affordability for the rental and purchase of homes. The measures in the Affordable Housing Bill 2021 will, in the near term, improve market access for first-time buyers, stimulate an increase in the number of new homes being developed and provide State-supported rental housing at more affordable prices. The Bill provides the statutory underpinning for affordable housing going forward. This includes both affordable homes for purchase and cost rental and the increase in Part V requirements to 20% to include an affordability yield. In addition to the measures in the Affordable Housing Bill 2020, using €1.25 billion in funding from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund and further funds this can leverage, the Land Development Agency is tasked to work with Departments, local authorities, State agencies and other stakeholders to assemble strategic sites in urban areas and ensure the sustainable development of social and affordable homes to rent and purchase.

The development of the lands at Poolbeg SDZ has the potential to provide significant additional housing in a strategically important part of our capital city. It is clear it will not be possible to develop the area without significant infrastructural support that clearly adds capacity and value to the site and the homes within it. As highlighted by the Minister, a range of Exchequer-funded facilitating supports have already been ring-fenced or will be available to support the development of the Poolbeg SDZ. This includes funding under LIHAF, the URDF, the serviced sites fund and social housing. It includes the provision of high-capacity, effective public transport for the area in the form of Government-funded construction of Dodder Bridge. An Bord Pleanála has already considered the suitability of land in the proposed strategic development zone area for large-scale development and has made it clear that the Dodder Bridge is a necessary condition for such development.

Let me repeat what the Minister confirmed earlier. As plans for Poolbeg are developed, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and other Departments will work with Dublin City Council, the receiver and our developers of the strategic development zone area to progress this site. This will be done to achieve the best outcome for the taxpayer and will be subject to agreement on all normal and relevant terms, including value for money aspects. To this end, the Department are already engaging with Dublin City Council with a view to supporting the council in progressing its discussions with the developer.

The review of the national development plan and the upcoming housing for all plan will be published this summer and will set out the Government's ambitious range of affordable housing targets, not just in the Poolbeg strategic development zone but across the country over the coming years. I reiterate our core approach. We are in the middle of a national housing crisis. Confronted with such an emergency, we must use all the tools at our disposal to address this challenge, across both private and public sectors. We must not tie one hand behind our backs. I am committed to boosting the supply of affordable housing and to opening up home ownership, which is crucial for our society.

I will briefly touch on one or two of the contributions that have been made. Deputies Denis Naughten and Canney quite rightly highlighted the role Irish Water has in unlocking potential development in many areas across the country. We are keen to address that in the context of the ongoing review of our national development plan.

Members will be aware that Irish Water is key to unlocking much development. We need the infrastructure to ensure it supports that development.

One Deputy stated that we should zone as much land as we want and let the market decide. That is exactly the lesson we should have learned about what we should not do. A little more than a decade ago, we had enough land zoned in this country for 10 million people, with no unnecessary infrastructure underwriting it. The key point is that as we unlock sustainable communities and build proper communities in the future, which are future-proofed for schools, water and wastewater infrastructure, we need to ensure we zone land that is key to unlocking that potential. We need to ensure we are not reinventing the wheel and committing significant State resources to sites that have no infrastructure. We heard many other Deputies articulate that zoned land has not been unlocked by that key infrastructure. I acknowledge that we have a major body of work to do to ensure we unlock these potential zoned areas. We need to be strategic about that.

I often hear rural Deputies say there is not enough zoned land in their local authority area to accommodate the housing they are required to build. However, when one looks at demand for housing in each of the 31 local authorities over the next five or six years and the amount by which the land they have already zoned exceeds capacity, in many cases the figure is more than 250% and in ten it is more than 100%. I believe the figure for County Kerry is 145%.

We need perspective in the debate when we speak about being constrained from zoning additional lands. We should always have an obligation to ensure the lands we zone are underwritten by key infrastructure that is sensible. The most important thing we must learn from the past is that we should not go down the road of building thousands of ghost estates, which require remedial funding from Departments to try to get necessary infrastructure. We need to learn from the mistakes of the past in that regard.

A large number of county development plans are being drawn up. The Office of the Planning Regulator has a key ambition to ensure all the works done are of the highest quality and stack up with our national planning framework and other strategies. We have a shared vision, right across government, to try to ensure the very best possible outcome for all our citizens.

I have been down at the site of the former Irish Glass Bottle Company in recent weeks while canvassing for Senator Boylan. I was struck by the potential the site holds for the future of our city. The key question for everyone involved in delivering the plan for this site is how we want to see our city grow in the next decade. Everything else will follow from that question. Is the vision an extension of what is known as Googletown, one that creates circumstances in which homes are out of reach for most of our citizens, as is currently the case?

I come from just across the river from Ringsend and only a couple of hundred metres from Sheriff Street. I was reared in East Wall. If I was born in either of those areas today, I would never be able to afford to live here. I see my old friends and neighbours and their children who are unable to afford their current rent, let alone have any chance of buying one of the multitude of apartments lying empty close to this building.

A site in my constituency in Mulhuddart in Dublin 15, Churchfields, has been ready to go for more than four years. The site is shovel-ready yet fewer than 100 social houses have been built around the periphery. There is huge potential for it to integrate with the surrounding communities.

During my time as a councillor on Fingal County Council, I supported the council with regard to every site on every single occasion. Every step of the way, the council received 100% support. Despite this, not one affordable house has been built on that site or any other site since it came before councillors in 2017. Fingal County Council management kept telling us that it could not proceed as it did not have the funding or the figures for an affordable housing scheme from the Government.

I note that Sinn Féin's opposition to housing has been mentioned a couple of times. I challenge any Minister to visit the estates that have been built in Fingal in recent years, from Hollystown and Hansfield right down to Ongar and all the way to Pelletstown. Sinn Féin has opposed only two developments, one of which is a co-living development and the other a build-to-rent development. Both of those developments were also opposed by sitting Government Ministers.

A recent poll has shown how out of touch the Government is with what the vast majority of citizens believe is an affordable home. Only 4% of those polled believe that anything near €400,000 would be deemed affordable. Close to 50% of those polled believe that an affordable home should cost in the region of between €200,000 and €300,000. This is not far off what it cost Ó Cualann Cohousing Alliance to provide affordable housing in Ballymun. In fact, the first scheme put to market several years ago by Ó Cualann Cohousing Alliance, which we met, had a starting price of €144,000 for a two-bedroom house, while a four-bedroom house was sold for €244,000. It has shown that this can be replicated across the State. The Government can do it but chooses not to.

The motion calls for genuinely affordable homes to be delivered on the former Irish Glass Bottle Company site in the Poolbeg West SDZ. It would also set the tone for all other affordable housing schemes throughout the State, including Churchfields in my area in Mulhuddart, which I mentioned. Unfortunately, I believe that overall, despite some crumbs from the table for workers, this Government is wedded to the private market, developers, vulture funds and cuckoo groups.

I thank the Minister of State for his remarks. The Irish Glass Bottle Housing Action Group was formed in 2016. It has been campaigning vigorously and has secured cross-party and widespread community support during that time. For the five years of that campaign, Fine Gael has been in government and in charge of housing for most of that time.

What really galls many people in the affected communities is that the State had an opportunity to buy this land at a discount. This would have guaranteed greater affordability but the Fine Gael Minister with responsibility for housing at the time chose not to take that option. We are now faced with the genuine fear that the price the developer will set for affordable homes on the site will be between €500,000 and €600,000. That is the view of Dublin City Council. The key issue here for the people in that part of our city, and others who would like to live there, is price. An affordable home means an average home purchased for a price of approximately €250,000. There may or may not be a serviced sites fund clawback charge on top of that.

The Minister of State is absolutely correct. The developer is benefiting from significant and much-needed infrastructural grants, to which I have no objection. It is €50 million, in fact, of infrastructural grants between the Department of Transport and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. With an affordable housing fund, that figure increases to up to €60 million, depending on where that application eventually goes. NAMA also continues to have an interest in the land and while we do not know the price, that value could be anything up to €90 million.

A lot of taxpayers' money is, therefore, sitting in that site, from which ultimately the developer will benefit because that infrastructure and that serviced sites fund will unlock many aspects of the development. All that needs to be factored into the price that Ronan Group Real Estate and Lioncor eventually offer Dublin City Council for the purchase of the affordable homes. That would actually average out at a unit discount of approximately €250,000 per affordable home, assuming the affordable homes will cost in the region of €600,000.

The purpose of this motion is to communicate to the Government not only the need for it to get more involved in supporting Dublin City Council and the local community, but also to send a very clear signal to the developer. If the developer wants the Government to be a partner in this hugely important strategic development zone master plan and its delivery, it has to offer units for affordable purchase at a significantly lower price than €500,000 or €600,000. That means the developer has to absorb a large volume of the discount. It cannot all be placed on the shoulders of the affordable housing fund and the clawback for the affordable purchaser.

I strongly welcome the commitment by the Minister, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, to bring the various players together. Doing so after the by-election is certainly the right time but it must be a real engagement. It must involve the Departments of Transport, Housing, Local Government and Heritage, and Finance weighing in behind Dublin City Council, its councillors and the communities of Ringsend, Irishtown and the surrounding areas to get the best deal possible. I agree entirely with the Minister of State, Deputy Peter Burke, that it must be the best deal for the taxpayer and the city but, crucially, it must also be the best deal for affordable purchasers. That means delivering homes at a price working families can genuinely afford. The key test of success will not be what anyone of us says today but whether those affordable homes become a reality for the working families who are being priced out of that part of our city at this time.

I welcome the amendment from People Before Profit. I am more than happy to accept it as it is completely within the spirit of our motion.

I will conclude by responding to two of the Minister's broader points. He is absolutely right that the time for delay must end. That includes, for example, the delay in the Oscar Traynor Road development. The Minister must decide whether he is going to step up to the plate and work with Dublin city councillors and officials to deliver those 800-plus social, affordable rental and affordable purchase homes. So far, he has been very reluctant to state his intentions in that regard. The Minister also needs to explain why other developments are logjammed. The St. Michael's Estate development, for instance, will comprise 100% public homes. In fairness to the Minister of State, Deputy English, when he was in the Department, he worked very well with many of us in this Chamber and with the local community. However, that development was approved in principle in 2018 and not a brick has been laid.

Both the dead hand of the Department of Pubic Expenditure and Reform and aspects of the four-stage approval process of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage must change if we are to get these projects up and running. In Kishoge in my constituency, where more than 250 social and affordable homes are to be built, South Dublin County Council is being made to jump through hoop after hoop by both Departments to do all sorts of appraisals, even though this scheme to provide between 8,000 and 11,000 homes was already agreed in principle as part of the strategic development zone that was voted on by elected council members, albeit opposed by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil in the single largest opposition of any group of councillors to a residential development anywhere in the State. In fact, the Fine Gael group leader appealed it to An Bord Pleanála, delaying it by a year. Now we have got it through, thanks to Sinn Féin and others, we need it to progress.

In regard to the Affordable Housing Bill 2021 and the legislation that is before the Dáil today, it is important to note that Bills do not build homes. Direct investment does so. We will judge the Government's commitment to affordable housing not by what it says but by what is in the housing for all action plan when it is published and, crucially, what element of increased investment we see in budget 2022. Only increased investment and the direct delivery of affordable homes for working people will bring this crisis to an end.

Does the Deputy propose to incorporate the amendment that was tabled into the motion?

Amendment No. 1 agreed to.
Motion, as amended, agreed to.