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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 13 Jul 2022

Vol. 1025 No. 4

Planning and Development (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2022 [Seanad]: Committee and Remaining Stages

NEW SECTION

Amendments Nos. 1 and 82 are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 3, between lines 11 and 12, to insert the following:

“PART 1

PRELIMINARY AND GENERAL

Short title, collective citation, construction, and commencement

1. (1) This Act may be cited as the Planning and Development, Maritime and Valuation (Amendment) Act 2022.

(2) The Planning and Development Acts 2000 to 2021 and Part 2 may be cited together as the Planning and Development Acts 2000 to 2022 and they shall be construed together as one.

(3) The Maritime Area Planning Act 2021 and Part 3 may be cited together as the Maritime Area Planning Acts 2021 and 2022 and they shall be construed together as one.

(4) This Act, other than sections 3 to 7 of Part 2, and Part 4, shall come into operation on such day or days as the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage may by order or orders appoint, either generally or with reference to any particular purpose or provision, and different days may be so appointed for different purposes or provisions.”.

The amendment concerns changes to the Short Title to incorporate the Government amendments, the citation of the Planning and Development Acts, 2000 to 2021, and Part 2 of this Act, to be construed as one, and changes to Part 3 of the Maritime Area Planning Acts, 2021 and 2022, to be construed together as one, and commencement provisions. Amendment No. 82 provides for consequential alteration to the Long Title to allow for the amendments to be brought forward on Committee Stage.

I wish to respond to recent misleading reports in the media that the Government is trying to ram through or to rush legislation without proper scrutiny. This is simply incorrect.

The Government amendments being considered on Committee Stage are broadly technical in nature or are urgent. For example, the few short Valuation Acts amendments are needed in advance of a legislative deadline to publish out-of-date pre-pandemic property valuations in September 2022. The similarly brief short-term letting amendments are urgently needed to help address the current supply shortage in the private rental sector, specifically in rent pressure zones, RPZs, which are the areas of highest housing demand, thereby delivering increased numbers of units to the sector and stabilising rents.

The section 31 amendments will introduce clarity and consistency of language and procedure into the ministerial direction process. These amendments need to be operational as soon as possible in advance of the end of the summer to benefit from the Office of the Planning Regulator, OPR, and stakeholders such as the public, planning authorities, regional assemblies and the Minister in the review of several ongoing statutory development plans, which plans are otherwise due to be adopted by the end of the summer. The design-flexibility provisions have been worked on for some time by my Department with the assistance of the Office of the Attorney General. Equally, they are being applied to the maritime area planning amendments, which are urgently needed to facilitate up to eight expected large-scale applications for offshore wind farms. Initial maritime area consents, MACs, are currently being considered by the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications in advance of the commencement of a pre-planning process with An Bord Pleanála. Such renewable energy projects will go a long way towards helping to achieve Ireland's renewable energy targets for 2030. If the flexibility provisions are not in place, together with the numerous other minor technical amendments to the maritime area planning legislation, the developers might delay their application processes to wait for this innovative and useful legislation.

Finally, the judicial review legislation amendments, which amount to two pages only, were proposed to address straightforward issues in the judicial review process, to help move judicial review cases on quickly and to have timely decisions on them. As I confirmed to the House this morning, we have reflected on the concerns relating to the judicial review amendments raised by colleagues in the House and have, as a result, proposed to withdraw what was known as amendment No. 25 in the combined white list of Committee Stage amendments – that amendment appeared to be raising most concerns – so it could be reconsidered in future legislative proposals by the Government. The remaining two judicial review proposals are quite straightforward and seek to better align our judicial review process with the provisions explicitly provided for in the EU's environmental impact assessment directive outlining that administrative processes should be exhausted before recourse is had to expensive and lengthy judicial review processes.

I trust the above gives a better outline of the reasons for the inclusion of the amendments today, most of which were flagged in substance on 1 April in the Seanad. Opposition Senators were briefed on 25 May and some Deputies attended. Further briefings were held this week. An hour and a half was allocated but the time was not used up because members of the Opposition ran out of questions to raise.

The Minister of State should be in a pantomime.

Perhaps we should reset the tone of this conversation because I do not think any of us will benefit if we have a row. We are going to have some strong disagreements about the legislation but, just as we did with the Maritime Area Planning Bill and other significant Bills, we can have a rational conversation without trying to provoke each other. To respond directly to the Minister of State's comments, I believe the media coverage is accurate. I will set out in as non-provocative a way as I can why I believe that to be the case.

We should be spending the two and a half hours on the substitute consent Bill. That is significant legislation. Not only do Deputies on this side of the House have significant concerns about its provisions but so too do many legal experts and environmental NGOs. We have tabled significant amendments that we wanted an opportunity to discuss. On Thursday night last week, we received 48 pages of amendments. To put it in context, the Bill we are meant to be debating here is 18 pages. The amendments that are going to take up most of our time amount to 48 pages. The Minister of State is correct that some of them are completely without controversy. The proposed changes with respect to the OPR legislation and the Valuation Acts are relatively straightforward. They are technical and minor, and there is no issue with them. The amendments with respect to short-term letting provisions will be welcomed by many of us on this side of the House because, as I said this morning, a Sinn Féin Private Members' Bill with the same effect was supported without Government opposition some weeks ago. However, there are some significant questions as to whether the amendments will do what the Minister of State says they will do. In that regard, we support their intent but want to tease them out.

To describe amendments Nos. 25 and 26, or just amendment No. 26, as technical does not reflect the potential significance, confusion and legal delays they will cause if they are got wrong. We can get into the detail on this when we come to it. The amendments are at the very centre of many of the public concerns that have been expressed in the newspapers.

The issue of the design envelope was raised during Committee Stage. It was something the Government and Department had decided not to proceed with. My understanding is that it is on foot of the loss of a legal challenge that these proposals are now being made. The problem is that it is not just about wind energy in that the design envelope is also being proposed to apply to terrestrial planning, including residential planning. If we have time, we will get to this; I hope we do. When we were dealing with the offshore wind discussions in the context of the planning regime, some of the people made a very convincing case as to why one would need or why it would be reasonable to have some design-envelope flexibility for offshore wind projects given that they take such a long period and that the technology is advancing so rapidly. I can, therefore, understand the logic of it; however, if the legislation is got wrong or is not drafted in the right way, what is being presented as something to meet our rapidly advancing renewable energy target deadline through wind generation could make matters more difficult. I do not understand why the Government would apply a design envelope to residential developments. These normally take a set period. There is a five- or ten-year planning permission and the types of building technologies used are not stipulated in it, so I have significant concerns over how the design envelope applies to offshore wind. I am opposed to the provision as it stands, although I will listen to the Minister of State's view on how it applies to terrestrial planning and residential developments.

With respect to information, we are very grateful that his officials briefed us for an hour and a half. He should keep in mind that such briefings are for officials to answer technical questions; they do not represent full scrutiny. They entail officials providing time so we can understand what is written on the page. With respect to the amendments before us, there will be no scrutiny by outside experts and we will not know what industry and the NGOs have to say. We will not know what some of the legal experts in this specific area or the Irish Planning Institute have to say. Significant, profound changes are proposed. These are not simple technical-efficiency measures; they are significant technical changes. Not only are we not getting enough time to debate them on Committee Stage but we are not getting time for any scrutiny at all. We can have a row if the Minister of State wants, or we can have a rational discussion. We might not agree at the end of it, but these changes, the substitute consent Bill and the amendments we make to it will have profound impacts on people all over this State for years to come.

I will finish with a general comment. The profound impacts are best seen in one of the most egregious substitute consent cases in the history of the State, that of Derrybrien. Pretty much everyone present will know that case very well. Since Governments repeatedly got the planning rules and regulations wrong, the communities in the part of the country in question had to live with the consequences of mistakes of this House for decades. They are still living with those mistakes because, while substitute consent has rightly been refused, the very real issue of the remediation of the enormous amount of social, economic and environmental damage in Derrybrien has yet to be resolved. That is before we even talk about the millions of euro in taxpayers' money spent on fines.

We have a significant discussion to have.

I hope we get through some of the amendments and I hope the Minister of State listens to some of the arguments we are making. We are not here to mislead. A number of us here have spent a lot of time discussing planning legislation with him. We take this stuff seriously. I have significant concerns, even about the portions of the amendments I am minded or open to support. The amount of time allocated for scrutiny, debate and voting is wholly inadequate. This is why I believe that newspaper reports are accurate.

A mountain fell down because all the trees on the top of it were cut down and a wind farm was built. This had devastating consequences for a community. If we do not get this stuff right, it has very serious consequences. A huge number of fines were then levied on this country for years. We are now planning major industrial development in our marine area. We have a Government that is giving a special pass, as I see it, to a number of legacy projects that will see massive industrial development all around the near coastal area along the entire east coast and much of the rest of the country. By any stretch it will have a big impact on people, fishers and the marine environment. God knows what it could do to the marine environment. If these things can make mountains fall down, they can also do a lot of damage to marine life and the marine environment if we do not get them right. We have a Government that has given a special pass to these legacy projects. They are all projects of private corporations. They are not projects of the State but of private corporations interested in making money from our marine when we have the lowest number of marine protected areas anywhere in Europe. This itself is a sign of the lack of commitment in the State to protecting our marine environment.

Now the Government has come along with a Bill that is supposed to deal with the issues of substitute consent that arose out of Derrybrien. It introduced a Bill on this issue, which is very serious in and of itself, and then, at the last minute in the last week of the Dáil session when a deluge of legislation is being piled through and guillotined, we get dozens of pages of amendments that introduce wholly new issues. These new amendments impact on matters such as the plans for industrial development of the marine and large-scale residential developments, which I did not mention on the previous occasion.

Let us consider what a shambles strategic housing developments were. Of course, they were not a shambles for the private developers and the investment funds based in Guernsey and the Virgin Islands making a fortune. They were a shambles from a planning point of view and for the communities they impacted. They have done nothing but worsen the housing situation. We have major amendments that will in the case of large-scale residential developments allow developers to have flexible planning applications. Is the Minister of State serious? What is the basis for this? After the mess that was made of the strategic housing developments, there will be flexible applications for the replacement of such developments. This has serious implications for public participation, the Aarhus Convention and the credibility of the entire planning process.

The Minister of State has come in here very feisty I must admit and fair play to him. He was obviously told to come in fighting. He is saying the amendments are technical. There is nothing technical about it. We have a new type of planning application for something that is very controversial, to put it mildly, as a replacement for strategic housing developments and developers can ask for a flexible application in which they do not have to give all of the details of what they will build. Immediately alarm bells start ringing when the Government comes in and says this is technical when it is self-evidently not technical. It is very substantial.

The massive industrialisation of our marine environment is not technical. We all want offshore wind and renewable energy but we are deeply concerned that we have not protected as we should have the areas where this industrialised development should not take place. The Government wants flexible applications where circumstances could dramatically change. These changes could have a very serious impact on our marine environment. In case anybody says that even raising these points means we are not serious about the environment let us remember the biggest carbon sink on the planet is the sea and what lives in the sea. If we mess up the sea and marine biology in the name of addressing climate change, we will potentially do the opposite and do more damage to the climate and to biodiversity. These are not small issues; these are very serious issues.

Even with regard to the measures that we like, such as those relating to short-term lets, we wonder why they are being introduced for only six months. We need to have serious scrutiny of these matters. What sort of enforcement will there be? Does it mean anything if there will not be enforcement? All of this needs to be scrutinised. None of it will be scrutinised because of the guillotine and the fact the amendments have been introduced at the last minute.

The briefing we got the other day was not a place to argue. We were trying to get our heads around the massive number of amendments. Something I asked for, as Deputy Matthews knows, is whether we could please have an explanatory memorandum to explain what the hell is in these amendments. It was not available at the time. Because we asked for it, it was eventually produced at 8.58 this morning. That is when we received it. Now we are dealing with all of these amendments and the Bill is being guillotined. If this is not a disgrace in terms of legislation I do not know what is. Please do not tell us it is technical. Do not try to fool the public, the media or whoever it is the Minister of State is trying to fool by saying such things. This is sharp practice and there is no question about it. It is sharp practice with things that have very serious implications for our environment and the public.

This is not any way to handle legislation. What has happened here is that the Government has rolled what is effectively seven different Bills into one. Only one of these, the original part on substitute consent, has received any scrutiny. It alone requires significant discussion and scrutiny on this Stage. Parts of what the Government has brought forward at the last minute are non-controversial, such as on valuations. The part on short-term lets is welcome but very much needs scrutiny and there is no question about this. We have to ask why the Government is so keen to avoid scrutiny of these measures.

It is an abuse and misuse of language to describe some of these amendments as "technical" and "streamlining". Issues regarding judicial review go far beyond streamlining and technical amendments. For the record, this is how the amendments were presented in the Second Stage contribution of the Minister last week. It is how they were presented during the briefing we received on Monday. They were passed off as streamlining technical measures. The profoundness of some of these amendments was not given consideration.

Amendment No. 25 has been withdrawn and this is an admission by the Government that it got that completely wrong. Effectively it was a get out of jail free card for An Bord Pleanála if it made mistakes or broke the law when making planning decisions. This is an incredible thing to try to do at time when we need more accountability and safeguards in respect of An Bord Pleanála. This is particularly with regard to the concentration of power in the hands of a small number of individuals who decide on a vlarge number of controversial and significant planning applications.

It is important to get planning legislation right. The substitute consent measures are trying to fix problems with regard to the Derrybrien wind farm. The State has paid out or owes €19.5 million in fines for making mistakes and getting legislation wrong. This is not to mention all the consultancy costs, legal costs, time and resources on top of the €19.5 million and the remediation costs that will be faced for the damage done.

If we want to get this legislation right and our planning legislation right, we need to get out of the Government's mindset, which is one of trying to blame the Judiciary for the job it is doing. Our job is to get legislation right and make sure it is clear and effective. If we do that, there will be fewer delays in the courts and there will be fewer delays in the provision of housing and infrastructure. The mindset on this is completely wrong.

The calls from the Environmental Pillar representing 32 environmental NGOs, including the Irish Planning Institute, on this need to be respected. The strong calls for the withdrawal of amendments Nos. 12, 13, 26, 40, 41, 42 and 77 should be listened to by the Government. They should be withdrawn and brought back. The Government should let them go through scrutiny. If the Minister of State is so convinced by these different measures, why not have them scrutinised? Why not hear from experts and get these issues thrashed out? There seems to be a lack of confidence in the amendments the Government is rushing through, which are anything but technical and streamlining, and it does not want them to be scrutinised. That is extremely serious.

There has been no public discussion or comment on the design envelope measures being extended to large-scale residential developments. That is a significant move, which needs to be debated and scrutinised.

I will raise a point about this situation we find ourselves in this evening. Maybe the Minister of State will explain to us. Last Thursday, when we were dealing with the Bill, the Minister of State, Deputy Niall Collins, was here. I do not think he has any role in it, or maybe he has. I did not get to check his portfolio, but I thought it was education. We should all be in education because the Government needs to learn a lot from this behaviour. Did it not even listen to Uachtarán na hÉireann when he criticised, after Christmas, the volume of legislation that he had sent to him to deal with? Some 12 Bills will be delivered in the coming weeks.

This is a whole new Bill, but we were shocked when the Minister, glibly and quite arrogantly, told us that he would introduce five new sets of amendments. I think there were six sets of amendments when they arrived. There are 69 different amendments. The Minister of State comes in and tells us they are mostly technical. Many of these issues are not technical at all. This is ham-fisted and rushed and the legislation is very serious.

The Minister of State then made a plea to us on this side of the House regarding how urgent short-term lettings are. Did the Government only find out in the past couple of weeks that there was a problem with short-term lettings? It beggars belief. I do not know what is driving the Government, who it is working for or whatever.

Not so long ago, we dealt with the Maritime Area Planning Act and there are a plethora of amendments before us again and the Government is telling us that if we do not take them now and deal with them, we might not reach our 2030 climate targets. Is it only now the Government found that out? We have been telling it that for ages. Until such a time as we reach the targets that we have set, we must keep our lights on in some form or other, to keep them working and to have some kind of energy. It will be slow, difficult and challenging, but we cannot sign a blank cheque here for wind developers or whoever else offshore. I am not against this development, but we certainly need time to scrutinise it because there is ecology and wildlife in the sea that has to be protected as well. It is very sharp practice and very poor.

In conjunction with this, there is an inquiry going on into An Bord Pleanála. What will Joe public think about this? Many felt they did not get a fair hearing. Many of whom I am dealing with in my constituency have had issues with planning, went to appeal, the inspectors of An Bord Pleanála came down and did the job they are employed to do and gave a report. We now know that the reports, 90% of the time, were rejected by a few members of the board. We did not know before. I have no insight. There there only three members looking at the report and adjudicating. What is the point in paying the inspectors, if this is going to go on? First, there was nothing in this inquiry, then there was more and then there was nothing and then we saw a resignation on Friday night last week of a pretty senior person.

Confidence in the planning system is at an all-time low. My county, Tipperary, just finished its county development plan after considerable work. I thank the planners and the councillors who finished it Dé Luain, last Monday. A lot of work has to bed in and settle. We will have to live with that plan for the next five years. We had the last plan for seven years because of Covid, delays and everything else.

The only way we found out about An Bord Pleanála was because of judicial reviews and now, I think, the Government will try to curtail them as well.

Some of the legislation, certainly, is to deal with a Supreme Court case, but it is kind of dealt with in such a way as to tell those learned gentlemen across the river with the wigs and gowns, not to mess with the Government, because it can change the rules to make them more compliant. I am very disappointed.

I am very disappointed because I know the Minister of State and I knew him before ever he was in government to be reasonable and flexible but I think he is spending too much time with the Minister. How could I forget his name? I call the Minister, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, the new Rambo from Dublin north because the arrogance is oozing out of him. I would not mind if anything meaningful was being done, such as building houses that we need for the people but, instead, we are told that we are shameful and not right or responsible by not accepting these amendments. I think the Minister of State said the Government has withdrawn amendment No. 25 relating to the judicial reviews, but the Government would not withdraw any of them if it was not challenged and he was critical of the media.

There is a duty on us to interrogate, examine and try to amend or point out the flaws in legislation, but we cannot do that with no time. When I questioned this last week, I was told flippantly by the Minister that we would have a briefing last Monday. However, some of us have commitments in constituencies and we cannot just come in at the drop of a hat, because the Government has forced us in to giving a briefing on a Monday. As Deputy Boyd Barrett said, the only explanatory memorandum that arrived came this morning at two minutes to nine.

In fairness to the Bills Office and the drafters of legislation, they have worked all night some nights recently. It is totally unfair on those good people who do great work. It is totally unfair to foist all this legislation, not only this Bill, but the five other Bills we have today, on them and expect them to work through the night to deal with them. The best people in the world will make mistakes in those kinds of situations, such as typos, due to lack of sleep and being tired. The Government could teach some of the dictators and their regimes out foreign about sleep deprivation. It is a mess. It is like filling a mixer when mixing concrete. The Government has fired everything into the mix and hopes it will come out in a good mix, but it will not. It will come out in a Dolly Mixture or like Liquorice Allsorts, and we will not have anything decent as a result.

No regulatory impact analysis has been done on any of the legislation, especially this legislation, to see how it will bed in. There is no review clause. There is nothing. It is wild west kind of legislation, which goes from An Bord Pleanála and short-term lets and the maritime Bill with regard to wind, to giving more power to the OPR. How did we ever manage in our little country before we had that office? I remember being on the county council back in the 1990s and again in the 2000s drafting county development plans. We did not have to be looking over our shoulders or to be browbeaten by the OPR and told at every step that the office would not accept this.

Are we taking away every last vestige of power that the elected members of the county councils have in the making of the plan?

We had to fight with management and could never get independent legal advice because it was not available to us. We had to take the same legal advice the manager got, which was totally unfair and discriminatory, unless we wanted to pay for it ourselves. That was prohibitive and councillors could not do it. Now we have the Office of the Planning Regulator as well.

We now have all these officers and offices with brass plates on the walls, fancy furniture and nice jobs for the boys. I said this last week and I will say it again. I think Deputy Matthews is still here. He was critical of me for criticising NGOs and An Taisce. I make my criticism without fear or favour because what An Taisce did with regard to the Glanbia cheese plant in Kilkenny was nothing short of national sabotage. I am being repetitive now but the Acting Chairman might allow me to continue. An Taisce had no issue with the plant, the emissions licence, the planning or anything else. Its issue was with the herd number. How could we have a situation where An Taisce was able to object to this and go to the courts with it three or four times, I believe, and threaten to go the European court as well? In fairness to the Taoiseach, who I do not give much praise, he did say to me one day here that this system of judicial reviews would have to be looked at. Thank God, the sod was turned on the plant two weeks ago and it has commenced. We are so lucky the Dutch investors stayed with us and stayed the course because this would not happen in many other places. Now it is being built.

Meanwhile, we were lorrying big laden trucks full of milk up to Strathroy and all over the country. There was no talk of the carbon footprint of that. That case shows the narrow-mindedness and pettiness of An Taisce. When Deputy Danny Healy-Rae and I, along with colleagues, had a meeting with the An Taisce we got nothing but disdain. I was never against An Taisce because it did great work on tidying villages, heritage, the Green Flag scheme and much else. I am not dismissing it and saying it should stay at that but I question its role with that Glanbia plant and in many other areas. Its staff are do-gooders who are well-paid, well-heeled and many of them are retired from senior positions on good pensions. The trouble An Taisce is putting householders and people who want to build their own homes through is nothing short of disgraceful.

I am not reckless; we want good planning. However, I must pick Deputy Boyd Barrett up on one point. His good colleague, Deputy Gino Kenny, was down walking my mountains, as I call them, the Knockmealdown Mountains, two weeks ago. All Deputies are welcome. Deputy Boyd Barrett might come sometime but I do not know how he would move a mountain. He said a mountain was moved at Derrybrien. I have not been on Derrybrien-----

It fell down is what I said.

Literally. It fell down into-----

There was a slippage, yes. A landslide.

That is not moving a mountain. You do not move mountains.

No, I said it fell down.

No, he said a mountain fell down but a mountain could not fall down.

The slippage was mountainous. Do not doubt it at all.

It was a small bit of a slip now.

A small bit of a slip. Anyway, I am just saying we get carried away in our language too. Come and see the mountains-----

We get carried away with language. There is not a chance.

Yes. I mean the mountain fell-----

I am being friendly.

I ask Deputies to get back to the debate in hand.

The mountain fell down but thank God it did not fall on top of anyone as there would have been an even greater calamity. I am aware that matter is the subject of a court case as well.

The approach to this Bill is totally anathema to good governance and good legislation. It smacks of pure disrespect for the Opposition and everybody else. It will be wide open for legal challenges.

I am in favour of houses being built and everything else but I am not in favour of the big conglomerates building numerous houses. They can get ease of access to planning and adjust it as they go along. That is not good legislation either. We must think of the small people, na daoine beaga, who want to build a house. I know of at least 20 young couples in my county who have the wherewithal to build a house and have a site but cannot get planning to build one in the middle of a housing crisis. There are many things that could have been addressed in this Bill and they have not been.

I will leave it at that for the moment. I am very disappointed at the way this Bill has come to us. The Minister of State might give me an explanation, if he can, as to why it was the Minister of State, Deputy Niall Collins, who was here last week dealing with this legislation. I have nothing against him but he is at the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. It only added insult to injury.

I am not going to speak for long because there are Members present who have amendments down that need to be reached and discussed. I have been in the Dáil a relatively short time but even people who have been here much longer would expect a Bill that enters on First Stage and is debated on Second Stage would bear a general similarity to the Bill that emerges at the end of the process with respect to content and intent. That cannot be said about this legislation. To paraphrase Deputy Cian O'Callaghan, one Bill went in but nearly seven came out, with the stuff that has been added late.

The Minister of State indicated that this was flagged in April and late May. What was not flagged to anybody at the committee, spokespersons or the House was that we would have an avalanche of 48 pages of amendments dropped on the last voting day of this session. That is not to say, unfortunately, that this is unexpected from this Government because this is becoming how business is done. However, planning and development has a long, sorry and negatively impactful history on communities all over our country but also on faith and trust in politics, which have been at a low for a number of decades now. If we get to the root of that, it is due to bad planning and bad development.

That is why when it comes to scrutiny and debating legislation, we need to have time and space. That applies especially for smaller groups and parties when we are dealing with complex areas of planning. It is not just that it goes to the spokesperson who will have one staff member. A large amount of resources are needed to engage with the various stakeholders, NGOs, legal experts and planning experts. We in Opposition owe it to the people to hold the Government to account and we need to be able to do that work. The Government is denying us the ability to do that through the way it is bringing legislation to this House.

Take a number of the concerns we have. On the whole, the short-term lettings measures appear to be okay but we still have not debated them. Research carried out by our housing spokesperson, Senator Moynihan, indicated the problems with short-term lets are happening outside the rent pressure zones and throughout the country, including all along the western seaboard, but the Bill only refers to the RPZs. That issue would have been discussed in the committee or in pre-legislative scrutiny if the Government had been honest and played with a straight bat on Bill.

We can look at the initial reaction of various groups. We have An Taisce and the Environmental Pillar raising concerns about this. Who is welcoming it? That it is the Construction Industry Federation, CIF, welcoming it is what tells the tale. This is what gets all our backs up, raises our antennae and has us asking what is happening here and what stroke is being pulled. The Minister of State came in here and told us this is technical. I am sorry but no Bill of 18 pages should come out the other side following technical amendments alone at 48 pages. Those are not technical amendments but wholesale change of legislation on planning and development at the eleventh hour that could impact short-term lets, our offshore and onshore, maritime area planning and the whole shebang. It is an awful way to do legislation and politics. To bring forward in this way legislation on an issue with such a troubling history in such a troubling time, given what is going on in An Bord Pleanála, means any faith we have in this Government to deal with planning and development is absolutely obliterated.

I too am very concerned by the rushing of this Bill. I fear it is going to adversely affect businesspeople, people who create jobs and people who pay their taxes and even pay for the likes of us in here. They contribute to the State's coffers in a big way. This Bill being rushed through like this will be at the expense of many hard-working people who are trying to do their best, create jobs and provide infrastructure. They will be denied such by the rushing through of this Bill.

I can see this is going to override county councillors and local authorities.

Having been a member of a local authority for many years and having dealt with a number of county development plans, I know the work that councillors and directors of services do. Joined together at every time in our history, they came up with county development plans for their county. They have accrued knowledge and experience from a lifetime working for and with people. They know their areas and the needs of the people. We must consider the people of today who are creating jobs and employing people. Those are the people we must respect and for whom we must try to do our best.

The Government has been in office for two years and it has green all over it. There has been talk of doing this and that for years, green energy and so forth. How is it that the Government could not get the Bill right without the need to throw in so many amendments at the last minute? Why could the Government not put its work together and have it ready? It was unable to get it ready in the first place. We are now past Second Stage. Surely this Bill should have been tied up properly and not rushed through the Chamber at the last minute. The elected Members have been given no proper chance to scrutinise it or get consensus that what we are doing is right. Now we know for sure what we are doing is wrong because it has been expedited so much.

We are giving power to An Bord Pleanála to override local authorities and giving power to the Planning Regulator. Does anyone know if he has ever been to Kerry? Has he ever been to the west? Where is he from? Does he know the areas we are representing? I do not know if the Minister of State knows the planning regulator but I certainly do not. I do not depend on him and I do not depend on An Bord Pleanála.

I too have experience of local young fellows who have got planning permission in sensitive areas. I know of one farm of 365 acres that was in a special area of conservation, SAC. The local authority, in its wisdom, granted the young fellow permission to be near his ageing parents and allowed him to build a house on the 365 acres. That application was challenged by An Taisce and sent to An Bord Pleanála. An inspector came down and agreed with the grant of permission but other members of the board refused it. The man in question is now living 20 miles away from his elderly mother, who is living alone. His father has died and he was the only one who was able to drive. The son is in and out of the place every day but cannot live there with his family because he was denied that right by An Taisce, which is supposedly composed of good people. That is what they did to this poor couple. The same thing has happened in several other instances. I will leave it at that with respect to what An Taisce has done.

This Bill regulates substitute consent procedures.

In respect of what the Deputy has said, a decision was made by An Bord Pleanála and not An Taisce, in the interests of clarity.

It was An Taisce that appealed the decision. Perhaps the Leas-Cheann Comhairle was not here for the start of my contribution.

That is okay. The decision was taken by An Bord Pleanála. It would not be An Taisce that takes the decision. That would fall to An Bord Pleanála.

That is so, but An Taisce caused the issue. Kerry County Council, in its wisdom, granted permission. The inspector came down and agreed with that decision. However, the application went back to An Bord Pleanála and was refused. That is where the matter lies. I am sorry that is the case because the people involved are good and hard-working. This is what An Taisce did to them. I do not agree with An Taisce and will never stand with it when it hurts people like that. The people it hurts are human beings. I will never forgive An Taisce for that while there is blood running through my veins.

This Bill amends the Planning and Development Act 2000 to regulate substitute consent procedures for applications regularising existing developments and requiring retrospective environmental impact assessments. It will provide for a single-stage application process. It allows for simultaneous applications for any future development to An Bord Pleanála. These are all going to be referred to An Bord Pleanála, along with substitute consent for all developments. It also allows for the refusal to consider applications for retention of unauthorised developments in certain cases. That is wrong. If we do not allow an applicant the right to due process, it is undemocratic. It is unfair for someone who may be employing people and delivering infrastructure to communities. It would be unfair for someone to be deprived. Who would decide? Is it An Bord Pleanála? Is it the regulator? That is of concern to me. Who is going to make that decision? It is clearly not going to be the local authorities or county councillors. Who is going to make the decision? Will it be some unelected official, as Deputy Mattie McGrath said, in a mansion of an office somewhere but nobody knows where and nobody knows the person or people making the decisions?

I will move on to consider offshore wind turbines and maritime planning. I know the Government is rolling out offshore wind projects on the eastern side of the country. I am far away from those people but I know they are very concerned about what is happening off the coast of Wicklow and Dublin. They have issues and they have not been and will not be heard. This Bill will be rammed through and those people will not be allowed a say. No one will hear their concerns. It will be much the same off the west coast of Kerry where issues also arise. I am not much of a fisherman and I do not know much about the sea but I do know that in all cases, trawlers, boats and fishermen have certain routes through the bay or the ocean because there are impediments of one kind or another. They have their routes in the same way as the planes in the sky have theirs. There is one route and that is the route they have to use for safety and many other reasons. I hope those people will not be infringed upon because they have been hurt enough already.

The Bill also deals with RPZs and Airbnb. It seems to me and many other people that the Government thinks those measures will sort out the housing problem. I can tell the Minister of State that he has no hope in the world in that regard. People who do short-term lets will never do long-term lets. They have their reasons. If they have to, they will give it up, and most likely they will. The Government will certainly not benefit from those houses. There are other Members here shouting for that and looking to end short-term lettings. It will not affect or help the people who are on housing lists. It will hurt people in rural areas of Kerry, such as Killarney, which was declared an RPZ by a Deputy in this Chamber.

It was meant to be for Killarney town but it has been brought out to large part of east Kerry where people used to let their second house, maybe the old family house that they did up on the farm, and derived a little bit of income from it for perhaps three or four months of the summer. Kerry is a lovely place today and in fine weather, but it is not so attractive to tourists in the winter when it is rainy and places are not green any more. Short-term lets were attracting a certain type of tourists to rural places. The local pubs, shops and whatever else in the local village benefited from a few extra people being around for the few months. If Deputies are going to stop short-term lettings, and there are other Deputies here who will vote against it, I can guarantee that these people will not rent their houses long term. They have no notion of doing it, never did it and will not do it in the future.

The Government is wasting a lot of time with this effort. The way to help people who are on the housing list, as Lemass and de Valera did back in 1960s or whenever, is to build social and council houses. People were housed then and they also built rural cottages. The local authorities gave out demountable homes but are stopped from doing that now. Unless there is a fire or a flood, the local authority will not bring out a demountable home. However, they used to before. If a house fell down or the roof fell in now and it was so bad that there were no windows or doors in it, they will not bring out a demountable home now. Rather, they will try to force the person into some rented accommodation in the nearest town or village and there might not be a town or village anywhere near the person.

I know of one person who died in his van. I am sad about because I raised it with the Minister of State. I thank him for coming back to me about it. I will be fair to every man and woman. The Minister of State did come back to me on that. However, the man has died since, so I will not be on about him any more. He died in a van because we could not get a demountable home out to him. If the local authority wishes to bring one out, it has to look for planning permission and do so many other things that it would take 12 months. It used to be called emergency housing, but it is not emergency housing any more.

I hear that some other kind of houses can now be built now and the Government wants to build a lot of them for other types of people in bigger towns or cities with no problem and without any planning permission. I do not think that is fair. I am very concerned that we are wasting time getting rid of Airbnb and other short-term lets because it will not help the housing situation one iota.

To bring some clarity to the situation, this Bill started off as the substitute consent Bill, which was how we referred to it. It came to the Joint Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage back in 2021. There was a request to waive pre-legislative scrutiny on it because of an urgent matter to deal with. The committee refused, but we acted speedily and availed of a briefing with the Department officials. We have had many briefings with the Department officials on some of the very complex planning amendment legislation and planning Acts we had to pass over the past two years. I acknowledge the Department and officials are always available to us to brief the committee members.

The main parts of the substitute consent Bill are to streamline and tidy it up. There is nothing wrong with streamlining or tidying up planning processes. We have a planning system that has been amended multiple times over the past ten years and it is difficult to follow. We have a massive amount of EU law, European law and environmental directives transposed into Irish law. It is a difficult area, which is why I welcome the review of the planning system.

Prior to this Bill being brought to us in committee, as committee members may remember, we had just passed another Bill, the Planning and Development, and Residential Tenancies, Act. That was done speedily and quickly in response to the Ballysax court case on the two-stage leave process for substitute consent. An exceptionality was looked at in the leave to apply stage and then public participation in the second stage. We had a barrier between public participation, a very important part of substitute consent, which is the judgment of exceptionality. What Government did was move to remove that barrier to provide for public consultation at the exceptionality stage. That was a good move.

The members of the committee moved speedily. I think the court case was in June 2020 and by December 2020, we had passed that Bill. Within six months, we had addressed a barrier to public participation in the planning system in very complex, difficult environmental law. That is to our credit. I am glad the committee supported that. It just goes to show that not everything the Government is trying to do in planning is somehow underhanded, rushed or not in the public interest, as it is being presented here tonight. The core principles of our Planning and Development Act are sustainability and proper planning underlined by the principle of the common good. Many of the amendments to this Bill are for the common good and I am happy support many of them.

I will not spend much time on this because there are a number of amendments and we want to get to them. I noticed the Opposition voted not even to proceed and against Second Stage, in other words, not even to allow us to proceed to Committee Stage to scrutinise these amendments. In a way, that is shutting down the debate. I am happy to see the amendments discussed and debated and explained by the Minister of State, with and opportunity provided for him to take amendments or modify some that have been tabled. We do that on Committee Stage and we have seen that regularly on Committee Stage in the Select Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage at any rate. I do not expect tonight to be any different, but we will see how that goes.

The measure on short-term lettings is a very positive move because it was practically impossible for local authorities to enforce the changes that were brought previously. That included chasing down advertising on various platforms and keeping track of houses where planning permission had been sought. It makes sense to penalise people who seek to have short-term lettings, thereby removing the house from use as long-term housing, which we all know is so badly needed in this country. In addition, it makes sense to impose substantial fines on somebody who is not willing to comply with the law in that regard and make it easier for planning authorities to enact that law. They are under enough pressure as it is without imposing on them legislation that was difficult and stressful to apply.

I suggest that where a short-term let property is advertised and the owner has availed of planning permission, the planning file number should be available or easily found on the advertisement. This is to prove that the property has planning permission and to ensure the would-be occupier of the property - the person who may wish to rent it - can be certain of compliance with planning. People want to be sensible and rent something that is compliant with the law.

On the ministerial directives under section 31, I note the wide criticism of the Planning Regulator. To be honest, if we had a strong planning regulator 20 years ago, we would not have had the Mahon tribunal, for a start, and we probably would not have had many of the very poor planning decisions we have seen across this country. Planning decisions made in local authorities by county councillors are often taken against the professional advice of their senior planners, the chief executive, Transport Infrastructure Ireland, the National Transport Authority, NTA, or expert groups such as An Taisce. We often see decisions to zone land or include other planning objectives into a plan. The Planning Regulator, which was an outcome of the Mahon tribunal, is tasked with ensuring that those plans are compliant with national or regional planning frameworks. I would support more powers for the Planning Regulator. I am not suggesting that we withdraw powers from local authorities.

Where those powers and that responsibility lie with councillors, however, they must employ and use those powers reasonably rather than trying to insert objectives that do not comply with national planning guidance. That is why we have sprawl as well as transport emissions arising from people living two-hour commutes from the city and being stuck in traffic all day, with the associated high costs. It is why we have dormitory towns that people leave at 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. and to which they do not return until late in the evening. They are not able to participate in their communities. That is the result of poor planning. It is what bad planning is about. Inserting in a development plan an objective that does not comply with national planning is not doing a favour for somebody. It might be doing a favour for one or two individuals but it deprives the public of the common good that should be enshrined in planning. I welcome the amendments to section 31 that we will discuss later.

I have not read the amendments to the Valuation Act in detail. I briefly read through them. They do not cause me any concern.

The changes to the Maritime Area Planning Act are sensible. They do not strike me as particularly controversial but I look forward to discussing them in greater detail if and when we get to them further on in the Bill.

As regards the issue on flexibility in design, I support that. I support that we need flexibility in certain types of planning applications, primarily in the context of the highly technical and quickly evolving machines that are being put in place offshore. Those turbines are in development all the time to achieve greater efficiencies, such as greater internal efficiencies that might result in a turbine needing wider blades but a lower hub or, in some cases, a higher hub. All those design criteria have to be taken into account. There is a long time lag between submitting a detailed plan at planning application stage and then purchase and construction and putting the machines in the sea. Significant changes can happen in that time and we need to provide that flexibility. We know we need to develop offshore wind. We know the potential it has. That has been highlighted by the war in Ukraine and the difficulties with where much of Europe currently sources its fossil fuels. We need to get off those fuels. Doing so is eminently sensible. We need a planning system that is flexible enough to allow that but confined enough to allow planners to make a decision. We do not want planners to be put in a position where the flexibility is so wide, it leaves decisions wide open to judicial review or another review or appeal, but in addition, we do not want them to be unable to make a decision on the facts in front of them. There needs to be good guidance for planners in this regard so there is no subjectivity when it comes to what is acceptable in the context of flexibility and what is not. I have spoken to people who are knowledgeable in this area and they have expressed concerns about the method that is being used to do it. I support the concept of it but there are questions in respect of the method we are applying here today.

As regards judicial review, I am glad amendment No. 25 has been removed or deferred. It was a leap too far. It was sensible to withdraw the amendment at this stage. As the Minister of State is aware, the programme for Government contains an agreement to review and reform judicial review. That is needed for all sides that wish to take a judicial review. It is often a neighbourhood group or non-professionals who come together and take a real risk in taking on the very onerous task of seeking judicial review. They do so because they are seeking justice in the planning system and access to justice. We could never deny that access to justice. Access to justice is one of the tenets of a free democracy. If needed, I will stand up every day and fight for people's right of access to justice. I am glad amendment No. 25 to section 50 has been removed.

Amendment No. 26 - it was amendment No. 11 in the Minister's list of amendments - relates to the exhaustion of the appeals process. To my knowledge and understanding, it is generally at the end of the appeals process when all avenues have been exhausted and a decision has been made that leave for judicial review is granted. That is common practice at the moment. There are a very low number of cases. I know the case brought by the North East Pylon Pressure Campaign is referred to quite often. There are probably a few more cases in which a judicial review was granted before it was exhausted. To put into law what is commonly being done provides a little more surety in the system. It is not especially controversial. We will have to streamline judicial review, and decisions along the lines of this will have to be taken at some stage.

The second part of amendment No. 26 relates to remitting to the planning authority by the courts. That, too, is something that is generally happening. There have been cases, however, in which a judge has remitted it right back to square one when that may not have been necessary. That has caused delay in cases where the development or application, if rectified, may have been compliant. The applications were sent back a stage too far. I do not see how an applicant for development having the opportunity to ask a judge to remit the application back to the planning authority stage is a barrier to access to judicial review. The judicial review is complete at that stage. The decision has been made and the applicant for development is requesting the judge to remit it back to a certain stage. I do not see that as a barrier.

I will leave it at that. I look forward to speaking on further amendments.

I will comment briefly on a few points. I hope our dealings in the context of the Maritime Area Planning Act demonstrate that I have listened to the Opposition. We took a series of amendments from the Opposition, withdrew some amendments and came back on Report Stage with further amendments in consultation with the Opposition. I firmly put that on the record. We have listened today in terms of our withdrawal of amendment No. 25 due to concerns raised. Deputy Matthews rightly articulated those concerns.

I did not say that all these amendments are technical in nature, as was suggested by some Members. I said that some of them are technical and some are urgent in nature. I specifically went through each of the sections to which I referred and the category of each amendment.

I did not criticise the media. I referred to reports in the media in terms of contributions that were made in respect of the Bill being rushed. I wish to be clear on that. I gave my rationale. Some members of the Opposition are passionate and make strong contributions. I, too, have the right to stand up for my case. I hope we can do that respectfully across the House, as is fair and reasonable.

As regards comments in respect of the design envelope and housing, obviously, that is already custom and practice in the courts due to a High Court decision, but it is the planning authority that adjudicates on that.

As regards flexibility in the context of applications, that puts public consultation at the heart of the planning process. Citizens get to see every option in front of them and those options have to be presented when the application goes through the local authority rather than having a series of separate planning applications. That is reasonable and balanced.

With regard to judicial review, we have withdrawn amendment No. 25. In terms of the administrative process, this involves a small number of cases, as was rightly pointed out, but there being a process that should be utilised before a judicial review is taken gives consistency.

With regard to other aspects that have been referred to in the context of a planning application going back to a previous stage, that is already custom and practice. The courts have already determined that in a number of applications. Again, it underwrites that with statutory certainty, which is important.

The changes in respect of the Planning Regulator are important.

Sometimes when listening to the varied responses from the Opposition, particularly hearing, first, that people should be allowed object whenever they want and then, second, the same person giving out about someone taking a judicial review against a particular case. It would be hard for a legislator to respond to some of those comments. I want to say clearly and firmly that, as a citizen and as someone who was democratically elected to this House, I am firm in my belief that the right of the public to challenge a public decision should be protected. That is very important. My issue is that it should be adjudicated on in a timely manner and the vehicle to do that should be very clear in our primary legislation. That is what we are about. I am quite prepared to work with Members of the Opposition, as I hope have demonstrated in the past.

The Minister of State would go a long way to convince us that is true if, in the same way he withdrew amendment No. 25, he would withdraw amendments Nos. 12, 13, 40, 41, 42 and 47. Maybe he could let us know if he is serious about that and save us the bother of having a needless debate because otherwise this is going to be guillotined through. We are not going to reach most of the amendments. I do not know what he means when he says he is open to co-operation because whatever is said here is going to make absolutely no difference because, at whatever time, all the Minister of State's amendments will just be through and that will be the law. I am not sure what the Minister of State means when he says he is interested in co-operating.

I have shown my evidence already. By withdrawing an amendment, I was making that very clear to the House. I have no issue if we proceed and go through each amendment. That is the way we should go forward.

Amendment put and declared carried.
SECTION 1

Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 3, between lines 11 and 12, to insert the following:

“PART 2AMENDMENT OF PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT ACT 2000".

This amendment inserts the wording regarding Part 2 of the principal Act. Amendment No. 3 provides an additional definition to the definition of "Principal Act" to mean the Planning and Development Act 2000 and the definition of "Board" to mean An Bord Pleanála that "Minister" means the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 3, between lines 14 and 15, to insert the following:

“ “Minister” means the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage;”.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 1, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 2

Amendment No. 4 is in the name of the Minister of State and there are two amendments to it in the name of Deputy Cian O'Callaghan. Amendment No. 4 and amendments Nos. 1 and 2 to amendment No. 4 will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 3, between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following:“Amendment of section 3A of Principal Act2. Section 3A of the Principal Act is amended—

(a) by the insertion of the following subsections after subsection (1):

“(1A) A person shall not, during the relevant period, advertise or cause the advertisement of a relevant property for short term letting purposes, or enter into any arrangement in respect of a relevant property for short term letting purposes, unless the use of the relevant property for those purposes—

(a) is in accordance with a permission granted under Part III, or(b) is exempted development for the purposes of this Act.

(1B) A person who contravenes subsection (1A) shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable, on summary conviction, to a class A fine.(1C) A person shall be deemed not to have contravened subsection (1A) in respect of a relevant property if the person produces proof, provided by a planning authority in accordance with regulations made under subsection (2), of the matters set out in paragraph (a) or (b) of that subsection in respect of the relevant property.(1D) The relevant period may, by order of the Minister made before the expiry of that period, be extended for such period (being a period not exceeding 6 months) as is specified in the order.(1E) An order under subsection (1D) shall be made by the Minister where he or she is satisfied that it is necessary in order to address an acute shortage of rental accommodation (other than for short term letting purposes) in rent pressure zones.(1F) An order under subsection (1D) shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas and the order shall not be made until a resolution approving the draft has been passed by each such House.”,

(b) by the substitution of the following subsection for subsection (2):

“(2) For the purposes of this section, the Minister may make regulations—

(a) requiring such persons as are specified in the regulations to provide a planning authority with such information as may be specified and at such intervals as may be so specified in relation to short term lettings in the administrative area of the planning authority, and

(b) requiring a planning authority to provide to such persons as are specified in the regulations such proof of the matters set out in paragraph (a) or (b) of subsection (1A) in respect of a relevant property as may be specified in the regulations.”,

and

(c) by the insertion of the following definitions in subsection (5):

“ ‘relevant period’ means the period of 6 months commencing on the day following the commencement of section 2 of the Planning and Development, Maritime and Valuation (Amendment) Act 2022;

‘relevant property’ means a house or part of a house that is not a principal private residence and is located in a rent pressure zone.”.”.

This amendment relates to the short-term letting provisions in section 3A of the principal Act which are aimed at strengthening the pre-existing regulatory controls in regard to short-term letting. In this correction the Government recognises the issue of a significant number of properties that have been withdrawn from the long-term rental market in recent years that have instead been diverted to use in short-term lettings. This has had significant negative impacts on the supply and availability of private residential rental accommodation, especially in RPZs which are urban areas of highest housing demand, with further knock-on implications for rental prices in these areas. This trend has been facilitated in particular by the use of online platforms. We need to get more properties in the long-term private rental market to help meet demand and the accommodation shortage in this area, specifically in RPZs which, as I have indicated, are the urban areas of highest housing demand. These pressures on the private rental sector have been further exacerbated by the recent and likely future arrival of large numbers of people fleeing from Ukraine into the State who are in need of medium- and long-term accommodation.

This amendment essentially proposes that for an initial six-month period, which period may be extended for a further six months subject to positive resolutions by both Houses of the Oireachtas, non-principal private residences in RPZs shall not be advertised or accept bookings on online platforms or other media for short-term letting purposes without the necessary planning permission for such use being put in place in respect of the property concerned or the property concerned being otherwise exempted. The amendment further gives the Minister regulation-making powers to require the owners of short-term letting properties or their nominated agents to provide evidence of planning compliance as certified by the planning authority or exemption from same for the purpose of confirming entitlement to advertise a non-principal private residence located in an RPZ and on an online platform or other media.

We will be looking at regulations to resolve the issue Deputy Matthews raised regarding the planning permission number. In addition, the amendment proposes that non-compliance with these provisions shall be an offence for both individual property owners concerned and the online platforms or other media who facilitate the advertising of non-principal private residences in RPZs. Offences for non-compliance with the provisions will, in each individual case, be subject to a class A fine under the planning Act, that is, up to €5,000 or six months in prison or both, with a further possibility of a fine of up to €1,500 per day in each day the offence continues.

It is my intention that, further to the supplementary regulations to be made subsequent to the enactment of this Bill, the new arrangements in regard to the advertising of non-principal private residences in RPZs will apply from 1 September next, which commencement shall be confirmed by way of commencement order to be signed further to the enactment of this Bill. I have outlined these new regulatory controls in the short-term letting sector will be in place for an initial period of six months during which time it is envisaged that the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media and Fáilte Ireland will work towards the establishment of a new registration system for short-term letting properties, as committed to in Housing for All and with a view to ensuring homes are used to best effect in the areas of highest housing need. However, should there be any delay in the establishment of the new Fáilte Ireland registration system, it will be possible to extend the provisions proposed in this amendment for a further six-month period subject to a positive resolution by both Houses of the Oireachtas.

In regard to enforcement of the new provisions, the new rules should be much more straightforward to enforce than the pre-existing 2019 provisions. In this connection, the online platforms will be required to associate an indicator with each property advertised on their platforms to confirm they are planning-compliant. It should be relatively easy for the planning authorities to check from their own planning records whether these indicators are valid and without the need to inspect the properties concerned. Where the indicators are not valid or where properties are advertised without the necessary indicators, enforcement action can be pursued against individual property owners concerned as well as the online platforms advertising the properties concerned.

This is a set of amendments that I support in principle but I require a number of clarifications, if the Minister of State does not mind. I am confused as to how this new set of regulations, the existing planning requirements and the future Fáilte Ireland registration or licensing process will interact. Will the Minister of State talk us through whether the planning requirements as currently exist under what I call the Eoghan Murphy regulations will continue to exist or if they will they be replaced by the Fáilte Ireland registration requirement? If it is the latter, how does a local authority determine whether a property should be a short-term or a long-term let? While there are huge inadequacies with the enforcement of the previous set of regulations, there is a value in a planning authority being able to make a decision in terms of whether a property should get the change of use or not. If the Minister of State will talk us through that, that is very important.

The second thing is, why six months? Does that imply that, if and when Fáilte Ireland has its registration process in place, there will not be a sanction on platforms for advertising properties that are not compliant with the new rules? Will the Minister of State clarify that for us as well?

Also, in regard to the timelines, to be clear, when does the Minister of State expect this legal obligation on platforms to take effect? When can the local authority I presume, actually start cleaning up the act? I was quite appalled by the Airbnb statement I read in the newspapers the other day.

It has been facilitating law-breaking for a number of years. During Covid, many properties went out for short-term let, but it has been knowingly and willingly advertising properties that do not have either appropriate exemption or planning permission. It has been profiting from it and it is doing it now. It is important, whatever the Government does here, that it is clear when it starts so that we can all monitor to ensure Airbnb cleans up its act and stops facilitating illegal planning.

I move amendment No. 1 to amendment No. 4:

In the second line of subsection (1B), proposed to be inserted by section 2(a), after "fine" to insert "or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both, or on conviction on indictment, to a fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or to both".

In relation to my amendments and the class A fines proposed here, the maximum fine in Barcelona for a platform that advertises an illegal short-term let is €600,000. Is it the case that under this legislation the maximum fine is only €5,000, and why such a low fine in comparison with what is being done in Barcelona? Will the Minister of State clarify that fine of €5,000 applies to platforms as well in terms of their advertising? Will the Minister of State provide clarification that the class A fine referred to in his amendment incorporates a possible six months' imprisonment and the possibility of fines of up to €1,500 each day the offence continues?

There is a risk with this that potentially a platform or someone who is on the higher end of the scale in terms of what he or she might be doing here could be making more money from breaches of the law than they would pay out in fines. Why is the Minister of State opting for something so low by international standards?

Why are the RPZs not applying throughout the country? For clarity, there is a case for short-term lets in tourist areas etc., but there is also a strong case to have balance in that regard and to have local authorities being able to enforce the need for retaining some long-term rental accommodation so that people who are working in tourist areas are able to find somewhere to live, which is a real issue at present. There is a housing rental crisis throughout the country, not only in RPZs. That is why I am wondering why areas outside of RPZs are not getting protection here.

Does the Minister of State acknowledge there is a real issue with the way RPZ rules are written because 77 local electoral areas are not currently classified as RPZs and are unlikely ever to be classified as such because of the way those rules are written? They have insufficient data, there are not 30 registrations of new tenancies each quarter that justifies them even being considered a RPZ, and the rules around average rents include cities such as Cork, Limerick and Galway. It would be hoped that some of the rural areas would never exceed the average rents that are defined by the inclusion of those city areas.

This is one of these substantial last-minute amendments the Government has brought in, the purpose of which we agree with. As well as some of the questions I have already heard asked, as I alluded to in my opening contribution, I want to understand clearly what is being done here.

It is not legal to offer for short-term let properties that do not have the planning permission to do so or the exemption that would allow them to do so . It is against the law but companies are doing it. We are now bringing in an amendment which will prohibit and then penalise platforms or owners who advertise properties that do not have permission or who cannot show they have the permission, but we will only do so for a period of six months. I do not understand that. Maybe I am missing something. If the Minister of State can explain it, that is fine. If it is illegal and they should not be doing it, why would the prohibition on it be only for six months? I do not understand that. Surely if they do not have the permission and they do not have the exemption, they should not be doing it and any penalties that apply to the owner or the platform advertising should apply because they are not complying with the law. Why would there be a six-month limit? Maybe I am missing something. If that can be explained to me, I would be glad. That seems a little strange.

The first amendment proposed by Deputy Cian O'Callaghan relates to the penalties that should be applicable to non-compliance with the proposed new short-term letting provisions. What is essentially proposed is that the penalties to be applied should be a class A fine with the term of imprisonment being increased to up to 12 months on summary conviction and up to two years on conviction on indictment. As I outlined in my remarks on the Government amendment on this point, it is proposed that the penalties to be applied for non-compliance will be the standard class A fine, which is up to €5,000, six months' imprisonment or a combination of both, with the possibility of further fines of up to €1,500 for each day the offence continues.

These penalties, which will be applicable to both property owners and online platforms, are appropriate and will provide sufficient deterrent or a disincentive effect if properly enforced by planning authorities. In this connection, robust enforcement by planning authorities will be key in ensuring the proposed new short-term letting provisions will have their intended effect. Accordingly, I must oppose Deputy O'Callaghan's amendment on the fines being applied in this regard.

The second amendment proposed by Deputy O'Callaghan would, if accepted, result in the proposed new short-term letting provisions being applicable not only to RPZs but also to other areas in the country. Legal advice provided to the Department in this regard indicates that for a measure to be able to withstand legal challenge, it must be balanced and reasonable as well as proportionate to the objective it seeks to achieve. The principal areas where there is a shortage of long-term private rental accommodation is in designated RPZs, which are the urban areas of the highest housing demand. We need to get more properties into the long-term private rental market to help meet the demand and accommodation shortage in these designated areas. There is less of an acute shortage of long-term rental accommodation in areas outside of designated RPZs where rental prices are not as high. Therefore, having regard to the legal advice provided by the Department, it is likely the measure could be deemed disproportionate if extended nationwide. Deputies will be aware of the specific criteria an RPZ must meet.

Regarding other queries that have been raised about the Planning and Development Act, this new regime, as soon as the law is enacted and the regulations are prepared, will come into effect quite quickly.

Regarding planning requirements, the same criteria that currently apply for the granting of change of use will continue to apply and will transfer over to the Fáilte Ireland registration system. As we pointed out, there are three revisions. The first is that a non-principal private residence in an RPZ cannot accept a booking online. Previously, it was in relation to the property owners. That is bringing more clarity - a clear line of sight. The second redefines so that the Minister can make the regulations in terms of the specific nature. The third relates to the class A fine that I referred to.

The Minister of State did not answer my question.

It may well be I did not understand the answer as oppose to it was not answered. The Minister of State said that the change of use function will transfer to the Fáilte Ireland registration. It is important we clarify that. Right now, if I am a property owner, I apply to the local authority for a change of use or I write and I get my exemption. When Fáilte Ireland takes over this responsibility, will I still have to apply for a change of use or will I simply go to Fáilte Ireland for it to register me, and if I go to it to register me, who has the ability to make the decision as to whether it is appropriate for a short-term let or a long-term let in the location concerned because that is a planning decision? Will the Minister of State clarify that transition?

When the change of use function transfers to Fáilte Ireland, will the fines for the advertising of non-compliant properties continue, and if so, why is there only a six-month relevant period, albeit to be extended in this? I am still not clear on the interaction of those.

On RPZs, the criteria the Minister of State set out, particularly with respect to larger urban areas and higher rents, may have been the case when the RPZ legislation was introduced in 2016. Anybody who has been looking at what is happening with rents in rural counties outside RPZs for the past 12 to 18 months will know there have been increases. In fact, rents in County Galway are now higher than they are in the city, and it is the same in counties Donegal, Roscommon and Leitrim. The scale of rent increases there is huge. The Minister of State is not going to deal with that today, but I urge the Department to re-examine that issue, because Deputy Cian O'Callaghan makes a very important point that needs to be addressed at some stage.

I want my question to be absolutely clear. I think it is a similar question to Deputy Ó Broin’s, although the Minister of State is not quite getting it. As I read it, for the next six months, if someone advertises a short-term residential tenancy for which they do not have permission for a change of use or an exemption, they will be breaking the law and they will be fined and, potentially, imprisoned. However, in six months' time, unless the Minister renews it, they can advertise a tenancy for which they do not have permission and which is in breach of the law, and they will not be subject to a fine or imprisonment. I do not understand that. If someone should not be doing short-term lets because they have not got permission to do them, then why would there be a six-month expiry date on the penalties for advertising that? Unless I am missing something, this is an example of what happens when there is rushed legislation. It does not make any sense. There should be no expiry date on that. How, under any circumstances, could it be right for Airbnb to advertise at any time, anywhere, short-term lets for a property that does not have the permission for short-term lets?

First, companies that do short-term lets like Airbnb make hundreds of millions of euro in profit. That is why places like Barcelona that take this seriously subject them to fines of approximately €600,000 for breaches. The Minister of State thinks a fine of €5,000 is somehow going to cut it but it is not.

On RPZs, I urge the Minister of State to look at this because it needs to be dealt with urgently. Deputy Ó Broin is right that when these rules were first written, it was probably envisaged that we would not have the kind of crisis we have in areas that are not covered by RPZs, so the rules were written in a way that means some of the more rural areas will simply never get in. In those local electoral areas, they do not have enough new rental registrations each quarter that would make them even eligible to be considered for an RPZ. That is why, in terms of RPZs and the lack of any rent regulation, it is totally unfair that they have been excluded from these much-needed measures.

To give one example that was highlighted by “Prime Time” on RTÉ, residents in Tubbercurry have been hit with rent increases of 75% and 80%. How can anyone deal with that sort of increase? Right now, that is putting people at risk of homelessness and making them homeless in some of those areas because of the scale of the increase and the lack of availability of properties to rent, where there is a surplus of former rental properties that are empty most of the year and which were now short-term lets. That urgently needs to be addressed. While I appreciate the Minister of State is not going to do it this evening, I appeal to the Government to look at that.

To respond to Deputy Boyd Barrett, in my opening remarks on this amendment I clearly outlined the rationale for the six months as a bridging mechanism and said it would be extended by a positive resolution by both Houses of the Oireachtas should the Fáilte Ireland online registration system not be up and running. It is a bridging provision and, hopefully, by the end of the six months, the Fáilte Ireland registration system will be ready.

Second, the planning authority adjudicates on planning and it makes the determination. People must have that determination to register with the Fáilte Ireland online system. Fáilte Ireland is best placed to adjudicate on the online advertisements to see if they are compliant and, therefore, go after those who are non-compliant.

When that registration system is in place with Fáilte Ireland, will there still be a fine or sanction for a platform or property owner who advertises a property that is not registered?

That will be dealt with by way of whatever registration legislation is-----

Will it be comparable with this in its scale and scope, as we would expect?

Absolutely. That is the intention.

Fine. That is perfectly clear.

Amendment to amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 2 to amendment No. 4:

In the second line of the definition of “relevant property”, proposed to be inserted by section 2(c), to delete “and is located in a rent pressure zone”.

Amendment to amendment put and declared lost.
Amendment No. 4 agreed to.
Section 2, as amended, agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 5 and 6 not moved.
NEW SECTION

Amendments Nos. 7 to 11, inclusive, are related and will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 7:

In page 3, between lines 22 and 23, to insert the following:

Amendment of section 31 of Principal Act

3. Section 31 of the Principal Act is amended-

(a) in subsection (3), by the substitution of “section 31AM(8) or 31AO(7)” for “section 31AN(9) or 31AP(9)”,

(b) in subsection (4)(b), by the deletion of “, in the case of a plan,”,

(c) in subsection (8), by the substitution of “, the Minister and, where relevant, the regional assembly concerned” for “and the Minister”, and

(d) by the substitution of the following subsection for subsection (16):

“(16) Where paragraph (a) of section 31AN(4A), paragraph (a) or (c) of section 31AN(9), paragraph (a) of section 31AP(4A) or paragraph (a) or (c) of section 31AP(9) applies to a matter to which this section relates, then the Minister shall issue a direction accordingly.”.”.

Amendment No. 7 relates to technical drafting amendments to section 31 of the Principal Act as required to address cross-referencing, duplication of language and notifications to the regional assembly. In this context, two references to other sections will be replaced with appropriate references and the relevant regional assembly will now be issued with a chief executive's report. This amendment to section 3D inserts references to new sections 31AN(4)(a) on development plans and 31AP(4)(a) on local area plans. This amendment will be dependent on acceptance of the amendment inserting subsection (4)(a) in sections 31AN and 31AP of the Principal Act. These amendments are to commence on enactment. However, transitionary provisions have been provided to allow for the chief executive’s notice of the requirement to furnish the report to the regional assembly. Therefore, the amendment to this process will only apply where the Minister has yet to issue a notice under section 1 for the purposes of subsections (3) and (4) of that section.

Amendment No. 8 relates to minor drafting amendments to section 31AM of the principal Act in regard to development plans to improve consistency and clarity of language. Minor amendments have been made to the wording to reflect the consistency of the development plan with the national planning framework and to replace “in a development plan” with “of a development plan”.

Amendment No. 9 relates to technical drafting amendments to section 31AN of the principal Act dealing with the development plans required to address cross-referencing, duplication of language, notifications to the regional assembly and the cathaoirleach of the planning authority and timeframes. This amendment provides for the provision to include a copy of the statement to also be sent to the relevant regional assembly and provides for copies of the report to also be issued to the cathaoirleach of the planning authority.

On commencement, this provision will only apply where an inspector has yet to be appointed. Subsections (12), (13) and (15) of section 31AN of the principal Act are to be deleted as these provisions are already catered for in subsections (18) to (20), inclusive, of section 31.

The amendment also provides for a specific subsection allowing for the office to recommend the Minister to issue a direction, with or without minor amendments, and include a three-week timeframe for this process. This aligns with the practice whereby the office has been working to a three-week timeline, reflecting the current timeline set out for appointment of an inspector. On commencement, this provision will only apply where the chief executive has yet to issue a report on the submission of the draft direction to the office.

Two new subsections are inserted after subsection (4). One is to address the process for the Minister to consider the recommendations of the office and provide for a six-week time period for the Minister to issue a final direction, with or without minor amendments, subject to environmental assessments, if required. Transitionary provisions are included to ensure any directions currently at draft stage where the Office of the Planning Regulator has recommended that the Minister issue a final direction, with or without minor amendments, are not bound by the six-week time limit. The second new subsection sets out the process to apply where the Minister does not agree with the recommendation of the office. This process is currently set out at draft direction stage and, therefore, it is appropriate to incorporate this procedure at final direction stage.

An amendment to subsection (9) is also proposed to allow for the Minister not to agree with the recommendation from the office where the inspector has been involved.

The final provision in this amendment amends subsection 31AN(16) to include reference to the new subsection 31AN(4A), which sets out the process for the Minister to determine whether strategic environmental assessment or appropriate assessment is required to be carried out.

Amendment No. 10 is a minor drafting amendment to section 31AO of the principal Act in regard to local area plans to ensure consistency of language with other sections by reflecting that a local plan is amended by, rather than varied by, the planning authority.

Amendment No. 11 provides for technical drafting amendments to section 31AP of the principal Act dealing with local area plans. The amendments previously discussed are, in essence, mirrored in this section for local area plans. This amendment provides for a copy of the statement also to be sent to the relevant regional assembly and provides for copies of the report to be issued to the cathaoirleach of the planning authority. On commencement, this amendment will only apply where an inspector has yet to be appointed.

Subsections (12), (13) and (15) of section 32AP are to be deleted as these provisions are already catered for in section 31, subsections (18) to (20), inclusive. This amendment also provides for a specific subsection allowing for the office to recommend that the Minister issue a direction, with or without minor amendments, and include a three-week timeframe for this process. On commencement, this amendment will only apply where the chief executive has yet to issue a report on the submissions to the draft direction to the office.

Two new subsections are to be inserted after subsection (4), one to address the process for the Minister to consider recommendations of the office to provide a six-week time period for the Minister to issue a final direction, with or without minor amendments, subject to environmental assessments, if required. The second new subsection sets out the process to apply where the Minister does not agree with the recommendation of the office. This process is currently set out at draft direction stage and, therefore, it is appropriate to incorporate this procedure at final direction stage.

An amendment to subsection (9) is also proposed to allow for the Minister not to agree with the recommendation from the office where an inspector has been involved.

The final provision in this amendment amends section subsection 31AP(16) to include reference to the new subsection 31AP(4A), which sets out the process for the Minister to determine whether strategic environmental assessment or appropriate assessment is required to be carried out.

Who said politics are not fun?

That was as clear as mud.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 3, between lines 22 and 23, to insert the following:

“Amendment of section 31AM of Principal Act

4. Section 31AM of the Principal Act is amended—

(a) in subsection (2)(b), by the substitution of "consistency of the development plan with the National Planning Framework" for "consistency with the development plan and the National Planning Framework", and

(b) in subsection (5)(c), by the substitution of "of a development plan" for "in a development plan".".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 3, between lines 22 and 23, to insert the following:

“Amendment of section 31AN of Principal Act

5. Section 31AN of the Principal Act is amended—

(a) by the substitution of the following subsection for subsection (2):

"(2) As soon as practicable after a statement has been prepared under subsection (1)(b), the Minister shall cause a copy of it to be sent to the Office, the planning authority concerned and, where relevant, the regional assembly concerned and the Office and that authority shall, as soon as practicable thereafter, make it available on their respective websites.",

(b) by the substitution of the following subsection for subsection (4):

"(4) The Office shall consider the report of the chief executive on the submissions, together with any submission made under section 31(10), and shall, no later than 3 weeks after receipt of that report—

(a) recommend to the Minister that he or she issue the direction with or without minor amendments, or

(b) for stated reasons, where the Office is of the opinion that—

(i) a material amendment to the draft direction may be required,

(ii) further investigation is necessary in order to clarify any aspect of the report furnished or submissions made, or

(iii) it is necessary for any other reason, appoint a person to be an inspector.",

(c) by the insertion of the following subsections after subsection (4):

"(4A) The Minister shall consider a recommendation of the Office under subsection (4)(a) that he or she issue a direction with or without minor amendments and—

(a) where the Minister agrees with the recommendation, the Minister shall, no later than 6 weeks after receipt of the recommendation, subject to subsection (16), issue the direction under section 31 with or without minor amendments, or

(b) where the Minister does not so agree with the recommendation, then the Minister shall—

(i) prepare a statement in writing of his or her reasons for not agreeing,

(ii) cause that statement to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas, and

(iii) as soon as practicable, make that statement available on the website of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

(4B) As soon as practicable after a statement has been prepared under subsection (4A)(b), the Minister shall cause a copy of it to be sent to the Office, the planning authority concerned and, where relevant, the regional assembly concerned and the Office and that authority shall, as soon as practicable thereafter, make it available on their respective websites.",

(d) in subsection (7)(a), by the insertion of "and the Cathaoirleach of the planning authority" after "the chief executive",

(e) by the insertion of the following subsections after subsection (9):

"(9A) Where the Minister does not agree with a recommendation of the Office under subsection (9) where paragraph (a) or (c) of that subsection applies, then the Minister shall—

(a) prepare a statement in writing of his or her reasons for not agreeing,

(b) cause that statement to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas,

and

(c) as soon as practicable, make that statement available on the website of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

(9B) As soon as practicable after a statement has been prepared under subsection (9A), the Minister shall cause a copy of it to be sent to the Office, the planning authority concerned and, where relevant, the regional assembly concerned and the Office and that authority shall, as soon as practicable thereafter, make it available on their respective websites.",

(f) by the deletion of subsections (12), (13) and (15), and

(g) in subsection (16), by the substitution of "subsection (4A) or (9)" for "subsection (9)" in each place where it occurs.".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 10:

In page 3, between lines 22 and 23, to insert the following:

"Amendment of section 31AO of Principal Act

6. Section 31AO of the Principal Act is amended in subsection (7)(i) by the substitution of "as amended by the planning authority" for "as varied by the planning authority".".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 11:

In page 3, between lines 22 and 23, to insert the following:

"Amendment of section 31AP of Principal Act

7. Section 31AP of the Principal Act is amended—

(a) by the substitution of the following subsection for subsection (4):

"(4) The Office shall consider the report of the chief executive on the submissions, together with any submission made under section 31(10), and shall, no later than 3 weeks after receipt of that report—

(a) recommend to the Minister that he or she issue the direction with or without minor amendments, or

(b) for stated reasons, where the Office is of the opinion that—

(i) a material amendment to the draft direction may be required,

(ii) further investigation is necessary in order to clarify any aspect of the report furnished or submissions made, or

(iii) it is necessary for any other reason, appoint a person to be an inspector.",

(b) by the insertion of the following subsections after subsection (4):

"(4A) The Minister shall consider a recommendation of the Office under subsection (4)(a) that he or she issue a direction with or without minor amendments and—

(a) where the Minister agrees with the recommendation, then the Minister shall, no later than 6 weeks after receipt of the recommendation, subject to subsection (16), issue the direction under section 31 with or without minor amendments, or (b) where the Minister does not so agree with the recommendation, then the Minister shall—

(i) prepare a statement in writing of his or her reasons for not agreeing,

(ii) cause that statement to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas, and

(iii) as soon as practicable, make that statement available on the website of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

(4B) As soon as practicable after a statement has been prepared under subsection (4A)(b), the Minister shall cause a copy of it to be sent to the Office, the planning authority concerned and, where relevant, the regional assembly concerned and the Office and that authority shall, as soon as practicable thereafter, make it available on their respective websites.",

(c) in subsection (7)(a), by the insertion of "and the Cathaoirleach of the planning authority" after "the chief executive",

(d) by the insertion of the following subsections after subsection (9):

"(9A) Where the Minister does not agree with a recommendation of the Office under subsection (9) where paragraph (a) or (c) of that subsection applies, then the Minister shall—

(a) prepare a statement in writing of his or her reasons for not agreeing,

(b) cause that statement to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas,

and

(c) as soon as practicable, make that statement available on the website of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

(9B) As soon as practicable after a statement has been prepared under subsection (9A), the Minister shall cause a copy of it to be sent to the Office, the planning authority concerned and, where relevant, the regional assembly concerned and the Office and that authority shall, as soon as practicable thereafter, make it available on their respective websites.",

(e) by the deletion of subsections (12), (13) and (15), and

(f) in subsection (16), by the substitution of "subsection (4A) or (9)" for "subsection (9)" in each place where it occurs.".

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 12 to 14, inclusive, are related and will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 12:

In page 3, between lines 22 and 23, to insert the following:

"Amendment of section 32B of Principal Act

8. Section 32B of the Principal Act is amended by the insertion of the following subsection after subsection (5):

"(6) A request by a prospective LRD applicant under subsection (1) may include a request that the LRD meeting be treated as a meeting for the purposes of section 32I and such request shall comply with section 32H(2).”.”

This amendment, which depends on the acceptance of amendment No. 13, provides for the prospective applicant for a large-scale residential development, LRD, may request that the existing LRD meeting is also to be held for the purpose of seeking an opinion regarding flexibility.

Amendment No. 13 inserts sections 32H and 32I into the principal Act. These sections set out details regarding the pre-application process for persons seeking to submit a flexible application under section 34 of the principal Act. Section 32H provides that a person who intends to apply for planning permission under section 34 of the principal Act may request a meeting with the planning authority for the purpose of obtaining an opinion as to whether it is appropriate that a flexible application for permission be made. The request must be accompanied by certain specified information, including the circumstances in which the prospective applicant considers it may be appropriate that certain details of the proposed development be unconfirmed at the time of the planning application.

Section 32I provides that the planning authority must issue an opinion or notification as to whether it is appropriate that the proposed application be made and decided before the prospective applicant has confirmed certain details of the application. An opinion must set out the details that may be confirmed at a later stage and the circumstances the planning authority considers appropriate to allow a flexible application to be submitted.

The provisions for sections 32J, 32K and 32L are consequential amendments regarding the pre-application procedure.

These are some of the most controversial sections in the Bill and I am strongly opposed to all three amendments. I have some questions regarding them. I can see no set of reasons whereby a developer seeking permission for an LRD would need a design envelope. If my memory about the strategic housing development, SHD, process is correct, I understand there was a provision under that fast-track planning procedure, section 146B, that allowed for alterations to a plan, but that involved public participation.

This is not the same as with the wind technology example that I and Deputy Matthews spoke about. Residential developments are straightforward and the technology is well established. The planning permissions do not stipulate whether certain types of building methodologies are used. They all must be fully compliant with building and fire safety regulations. Therefore, I do not believe there should be a design envelope facility and there should definitely not be one without any public participation. I will discuss this point further when we come to amendment No. 13. I wish to know who asked for this change, because this is here because somebody lobbied for it. I do not know whether it was the Attorney General, officials or private developers. This provision is here, however, because some people said they thought it should be here. It was not in the LRD legislation. It is important that we get an answer to this question.

Turning then to amendment No. 13, I respectfully disagree with Deputy Matthews on this element of the design envelope. As I said at the start, I am open to the concept of the design envelope, but there is no public participation in this context at the application, decision or implementation stages. This is genuinely problematic. I am not against the idea of a design envelope, particularly for offshore wind, so long as it is done right. From the start of these debates, however, I have argued that if we do not get the public participation facet right at the very start, then it will end up leading to protracted judicial reviews and delayed wind farm and renewable energy projects.

I am also genuinely concerned that this lack of public participation, especially at the implementation stage, is potentially in breach of the environmental impact assessment, EIA, directive, the habitats directive and the water framework directive. Regarding the circumstances relating to the proposed development, as set out in paragraph 2(e)(ii) of the amendment, the scope of this is left to the regulations. From reading this legislation, we simply have no idea how wide, broad or deep a latitude or flexibility within design envelopes will be provided for. The Minister is correct that he did state at an early stage that some of these amendments were technical and some were urgent. These amendments, however, are neither technical nor urgent. They are deeply problematic and this objective would be much better achieved by way of amending legislation in the autumn, rather than rushing this through this evening.

A resolution of the European Parliament was sent to me which was agreed on 1 June 2021. It relates to the impact of offshore renewable energy on fishers and the marine environment. This resolution was adopted and recommended by the rapporteur. To cut a long story short, what it basically states is, notwithstanding the commitment of the European Union to develop its offshore renewable resources, it should not do so in such a way that would displace fishers or do things that could potentially damage the marine environment. It says that the precautionary principle should apply. In other words, where we are not sure what the impact might be, the precautionary principle should apply. This is right.

The commitment to developing our offshore renewable resources is clear in this resolution, as well as the priority and urgency of doing this, but it is equally clear in stipulating that doing so should not damage communities with a close connection to an area, where social or economic activities could be potentially damaged by a specific type of development. The resolution cites things such as the reef effect that can sometimes accompany the establishment of these offshore wind farms. There is potential in this regard for a reef effect. In other words, reefs are created as a result of putting these things in place. This can have significant and far-reaching impacts on marine life, on fish and so on, and consequently on those who make their livelihoods from fishing. Reference is also specifically made to the electromagnetic impact of cables, even cables buried underground, and how those cables can then impact on marine life.

The whole predication of this amendment is that developers can come along and say they are going to put forward a planning application, but that certain details of that planning application cannot be provided when the application is submitted and that what may eventually be developed may be different from what was applied for. The grounds given for this provision is the rapid advance of technology. When we consider the issues at stake here, however, that makes us even more worried. Pile driving is another process mentioned in respect of its potential impact on a specific marine environment. Regarding the rapid advance of technology, we have already established that it is precisely the advance of those types of technologies that could have all sorts of spin-off consequences in terms of their impact on marine life. Of course, the new technologies may have different effects from the old technologies. The new technologies may have more impact in respect of what type of pile driving is undertaken, for example, and the technology used to undertake that operation. Such new technologies may also create reefs or damage fish, in respect of the routes fish take and whether they will continue to inhabit a particular area.

In fact, when I talk to the fishers in the areas where many of these legacy and relevant projects are sited near the coastal area off the east coast, some of which will be as close as 8 km and 10 km, in places like the Kish Bank, the Codling Bank, and so on, which are spawning grounds for fish etc., those people are convinced, and this point is alluded to in the European Parliament resolution, that this type of activity is not compatible with the continuation of fishing in those areas at all and that they will be gone from those areas, which are their traditional fishing grounds.

That is bad enough as it is. If applications are openended, however, regarding what technologies may be used for the construction of these projects or the types of cables that can be used, for example, and their potential impact on marine environments and fish, and all the rest of it, the idea that such applications could be openended based on new technology is more worrying. Therefore, I am not convinced that this is necessary or justified. I am most certainly not convinced that there is any justification for it in respect of large-scale residential development on land. I do not see the need for that at all. That has definitely been lobbied for by someone.

I repeat what I said earlier about SHDs and the shambles they turned out to be. That SHD legislation was written by the developers. I have strong suspicions regarding this openended type of planning application, which can change further down the line, and therefore bypass potentially the proper stakeholder consultations, public participation and EIAs in respect of LRDs. I just do not see the justification for that.

I would like the Minister of State to explain the circumstances in which a developer might put in an application for an LRD without giving all the details of that development, only for things to change further down the line. I do not see the justification for that and, arguably, it breaches the environmental impact assessment directive and so on.

It is similarly very concerning in terms of offshore developments. An Taisce, which went to the trouble of writing to us this morning, is pretty clear in its view that this raises serious concerns around the environmental impact assessment and habitats directives, public participation etc. There are simpler, more legally compliant and more effective ways to address these challenges without creating the legal and procedural problems associated with the proposed approach. We need to discuss that, but we are not really going to because it will be a short-circuited discussion and the Bill will be rammed through. At whose behest and as a result of whose lobbying will this happen? Somebody requested that this be included and the Government has bowed to that lobbying. We do not know who the lobbyists are but it does not take much to guess that they are on-land and offshore developers.

I am deeply opposed to these amendments. They should, at the very least, be scrutinised seriously or withdrawn from the Bill. It is more sharp practice with potentially very damaging environmental, social, economic and cultural implications.

Amendment No. 12 is about measures to allow flexibility for emerging technologies to be extended to large-scale residential developments. I have a real difficulty understanding the rationale behind the amendment in the context of large-scale residential developments. They are not like wind farms which can have a delay between the granting of planning permission and the commencement of the development. We all hope when a large number of houses are granted planning permission that the developer goes ahead with building as per the planning permission. What is the need for flexibility to allow for emerging technologies if delays are not envisaged? Could granting them this level of flexibility potentially create an incentive for developers to delay works?

Who asked for this? Who thinks they will benefit from it? How do they think they will benefit from it? Has this been lobbied for by those who are more interested in speculation and increasing the value of sites, in saying the planning permission they got comes with added flexibility along with other measures? People who are interested in getting on with the building of homes would not necessarily lobby for this. It appears to have come from speculative quarters.

Amendment No. 13 is about pre-approval and what goes into applications. There are significant problems with regulations being left to the Minister and how wide open that is. There are no parameter constraints on that. I have serious concerns about that and the lack of public participation at the design envelope stage. There would be no notices or submissions. The decision from that would not be published until later in the process. This presumably runs contrary to the EIA directive. If you do not know what you have allowed, how can you assess it? That is the legal problem that will, if it is not addressed, give rise to significant delays and challenges.

Amendment No. 14 is about the implementation stage. It provides no obligation in terms of consent. There is only an obligation to notify. No consent is required. Surely that is contrary to the EIA and habitats directives.

The Minister of State is bringing forward amendments that are not legally sound, do not comply with directives, and will ultimately fail and lead to delays, and then the Government will have to come back to the Chamber to make more change, which it will probably do on the last day of a term and rush amendments through again. Why not progress this legislation properly so that we can cut out delays and litigation, and get on with a sound planning framework to help to deliver the needed infrastructure and housing?

I echo the calls of my colleague, Deputy Eoin Ó Broin, and other Deputies here. Rushed legislation is bad legislation. A call has been made to withdraw these amendments and to look at them as part of the legislation that the Government will bring forward in the autumn. There are serious concerns about why these amendments are coming in at this stage of the game. Here we are at lastminute.com, with the Dáil breaking for the summer tomorrow, and a raft of amendments are being tabled.

We have been very constructive on the Oireachtas joint committee on housing. We are trying to put forward solutions. We know there are problems that need to be solved. The Government and the Minister of State are making a mistake here. There are serious concerns about the lack of public consultation. I ask the Minister of State to take on board those points.

I confirm that, to my knowledge, this is genuinely in response to the Derryadd case of June 2021, when the Attorney General recommended this course of action for wind developments. In terms of custom and practice, under judicial precedent from a number of cases, it is already permitted through the courts in regard to residential development. It was decided, in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General, not to limit it, thereby including it for all.

Regarding residential developments, it could be attenuation ponds, renewable solar panels, and issues like that, but the specification and details are known and there is full sight of that available. It is only additional options, rather than putting in a series of subsequent planning applications, and that would provide certainty. We are essentially codifying what is already there and has already been permitted previously through the courts.

I confirm that there has been absolutely no lobbying on this. It has come from that specific court case I mentioned and working in consultation with the Attorney General and his office.

I have two quick follow-up questions. If that is the case, and it is custom and practice and a general principle that can be considered, why is it being restricted to large-scale residential developments and not all planning applications? I am not at all convinced that specifications of solar panels on roofs or the size and depth of attenuation ponds, for example, fit into the design envelope. We all know there is a degree of flexibility in terms of final plans.

The Minister of State has not addressed any of the concerns raised about the absence of public participation during the application, decision, or implementation stages and whether it is in conflict with a number of EU directives.

If this is about attenuation ponds and solar panels, why is the Bill not restricted to those areas? Why are there no protections or safeguards in the Bill for that? The Bill is wide open and the way it is written means it could apply to anything at all in a large-scale residential development. If that is the case, why are there no restrictions or safeguards?

When the Minister of State gives us those assurances, it is apparent he has been given them by someone else. While I do not doubt that he is honestly relaying what he has been told, it does not satisfy me that we are having a fully rounded and well-interrogated scrutiny of these amendments that relate to large-scale residential developments and large-scale industrial infrastructure that will fill the near-coastal area all around our coast with industrial developments. We are talking about large-scale, massive industrial development. We are allowing these developments flexibility. This is where proper scrutiny is required. I would not be satisfied unless I hear from all the stakeholders on this. It is fine to hear from Government officials, who have their view. I do not know where they are getting their advice from, be it from the Attorney General or whoever, but I want to hear from all the stakeholders who have a stake in this so that we can make an informed decision about whether what the Minister of State just said is true and that there is really nothing to see here.

I am not convinced that that is the case, even more so because of my deep anxiety about the site selection process for these big industrial offshore "relevant projects" that got special designation in the marine planning Act, whereby developers chose their own sites. That is what happened. They decided where they wanted to build. Even on land developers do not have that, but now, for some of the biggest industrialised development we have ever seen in the marine area, the developers have decided the sites in advance of any plan or any proper designation of marine protected areas. Then there are little bits like this about what has to be provided when looking for this flexible application, namely, "such other information, drawings or representations as the prospective applicant may wish to provide or make available". I repeat, "may wish to". Surely the onus should not be on the developer to decide what he feels like putting forward in his application. He might wish to give us some details in the application or he might wish not to do so. This is so wide open to abuse it is beyond belief. Developers could hold back stuff. They could say they want flexibility when actually they plan to do something different from the outset from what they have put in the application. Let us be honest that this is open to abuse and open to developers to say, "This is how we get the application through, and afterwards we can disclose the truth about what is actually in the application and what we are really planning." We certainly have not had the opportunity to scrutinise this legislation to ensure that this is not the case and that we have safeguards against that. We have not heard from the experts who could really tell us whether this open to abuse.

This just is not on. It is not on to do this in the manner in which the Government has done so with the time available to scrutinise the Bill. The letter from An Taisce says it all and is directed very strongly at the Green Party, quite rightly. I am pretty surprised the Green Party are going along with this.

As I said, there are seven to eight urgent wind farm developments to take place. I also said it was decided not to limit this because it is already available in custom and practice to all planning applications. The specifics have to be given. It is absolutely not true to say that someone can essentially get a planning application through and tell the truth after the fact because the options have to be contained in the application, and public consultation is at the core of that. It is not in the case of a lot of pre-planning processes but it is in this case. The public can participate and they will get to see the range of options. That is more consistent and provides more clarity than a series of planning applications prior to that. I assure Members that the Office of the Attorney General and our Department officials are confident that this is a very solid proposal and is needed.

Amendment put and declared carried.

I amendment No. 13:

In page 3, between lines 22 and 23, to insert the following:

“Opinion in relation to planning application

9. The Principal Act is amended by the insertion of the following sections after section 32G:

“Application for opinion under section 32I

32H. (1) A person who intends to apply for permission under section 34 (referred to in this section and section 32I as a ‘prospective applicant’) may, before making such an application (referred to in this section and section 32I as the ‘proposed application’), request a meeting for the purposes of section 32I with the planning authority or authorities in whose functional area or areas the proposed development would be situated.

(2) A request under subsection (1) shall be in writing, be accompanied by the appropriate fee and include—

(a) the name and address of the prospective applicant,

(b) a site location map sufficient to identify the land on which the proposed development would be situated,

(c) a brief description of the nature and purpose of the proposed development and of its possible effects on the environment,

(d) a draft layout plan of the proposed development,

(e) a description of—

(i) the details, or groups of details, of the proposed development that, owing to the circumstances set out in subparagraph (ii), are unlikely to be confirmed at the time of the proposed application, and

(ii) the circumstances relating to the proposed development, including such circumstances as the Minister may prescribe in relation to any class or description of development for the purposes of this subparagraph, that indicate that it is appropriate that the proposed application be made and decided, before the prospective applicant has confirmed the details referred to in subparagraph (i) including, in particular, whether the prospective applicant may be able to avail of technology available after making the proposed application that is more effective or more efficient than that available at the time of the application,

(f) an undertaking to provide with the proposed application, either—

(i) two or more options, in respect of each detail or group of details referred to in paragraph (e)(i), containing information on the basis of which the proposed application may be made and decided,

(ii) parameters within which each detail referred to in paragraph (e)(i) will fall and on the basis of which the proposed application may be made and decided, or

(iii) a combination of subparagraphs (i) and (ii),

(g) such other information, drawings or representations as the prospective applicant may wish to provide or make available, and

(h) such other information as may be prescribed.

(3) A planning authority that receives a request under subsection (1) or section 32B(1) may, prior to a meeting taking place under section 32I, consult with any person who may, in the opinion of the planning authority, have information that is relevant for the purposes of the meeting in relation to a proposed development.

(4) Where a planning authority consults with a person under subsection (3), a written record shall be taken of such a consultation and kept by the planning authority and a copy of such record shall be placed and kept with the documents to which any application in respect of that proposed development relates.

(5) Where a prospective applicant submits a request in accordance with subsection (1) or section 32B(1), the planning authority shall convene a meeting to take place within the period of 4 weeks beginning on the date on which the request is received by the planning authority.

(6) The following persons shall attend a meeting convened under subsection (5):

(a) the planning authority;

(b) the prospective applicant, one or more persons on his or her behalf, or both.

(7) The planning authority shall ensure that planning authority officials attending the meeting on its behalf have a sufficient level of relevant knowledge and expertise in the matter concerned.

(8) The planning authority shall keep a record in writing of any meeting convened under subsection (5), including a copy of the request for the meeting and accompanying documents, the names of those who participated in the meeting and any explanation provided under subsection (11) or section 32I(7) and a copy of such record shall be placed and kept with the documents to which any application in respect of that proposed development relates.

(9) A record kept by a planning authority under subsection (8) shall only be made public when a planning application in respect of the proposed development is made in accordance with section 34.

(10) The Minister may make regulations to provide for such matters of procedure and administration as appear to the Minister to be necessary or expedient for the purposes of holding a meeting convened under subsection (5), including—

(a) matters that are required to be considered at the meeting,

(b) matters that may be considered at the meeting, and

(c) the manner in which the meeting is to be conducted.

(11) Where, on the expiry of the period specified in subsection (5), the meeting has not taken place, the planning authority shall proceed to convene the meeting as soon as practicable, notwithstanding that the period has expired, and provide the applicant with a written explanation why the meeting did not take place in the specified period.

Opinion as to flexibility with regard to application for permission

32I. (1) The planning authority shall, within the period of 4 weeks beginning on the date on which the meeting convened under section 32H(5) takes place, consider—

(a) the information included in the request for the meeting under section 32H, and

(b) any other relevant information that is made available at the meeting,

and determine if it is satisfied that it is appropriate that the proposed application be made and decided before the prospective applicant has confirmed certain details of the application.

(2) Where the planning authority determines that it is satisfied in accordance with subsection (1) it shall provide an opinion to that effect to the prospective applicant.

(3) Where the planning authority determines that it is not satisfied in accordance with subsection (1) it shall notify the prospective applicant to that effect.

(4) An opinion under subsection (2) shall specify—

(a) the details, or groups of details, of the proposed development as proposed by the prospective applicant that may be confirmed after the proposed application has been made and decided,

(b) the circumstances relating to the proposed development that indicate that it is appropriate that the proposed application be made and decided before the prospective applicant has confirmed the details referred to in paragraph (a), and

(c) that, in respect of each detail, or group of details, referred to in paragraph (a), the proposed application shall, in addition to any other requirement imposed by or under this Act, be accompanied by the information referred to in section 32H(2)(f).

(5) An opinion issued by a planning authority under subsection (2) shall only be made public when a planning application in respect of the proposed development is made in accordance with section 34.

(6) The Minister may make regulations to provide for such matters of procedure and administration as appear to the Minister to be necessary or expedient for the purposes of the planning authority providing an opinion under subsection (2), including the form of the opinion.

(7) Where, on the expiry of the period specified in subsection (1), the planning authority has failed to provide an opinion or notification, the planning authority shall proceed to do so as soon as practicable, notwithstanding that the period has expired, and provide the prospective applicant with a written explanation why it failed to provide the opinion or notification in the specified period.

Procedure without prejudice to performance by the planning authority of other functions

32J. Neither the taking place of a meeting under section 32H nor the provision of an opinion or notification under section 32I shall prejudice the performance by the planning authority of its functions under this Act or any regulations under this Act or any other enactment and cannot be relied upon in the formal planning process or in legal proceedings.

Effect of steps not being completed within the time period

32K. A person shall not question the validity of any steps taken by a planning authority by reason only that the procedures set out in sections 32H and 32I, were not completed within the time referred to in the sections concerned.

Offence of taking payment, etc. in connection with section 32H procedure

32L. A member or official of a planning authority who takes or seeks any favour, benefit or payment, direct or indirect (on his or her own behalf or on behalf of any other person or body), in connection with the provision of an opinion or notification under section 32I commits an offence.”.”.

Amendment put:
The Committee divided: Tá, 79; Níl, 62; Staon, 0.

  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Carroll MacNeill, Jennifer.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Cathal.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Duffy, Francis Noel.
  • English, Damien.
  • Feighan, Frankie.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Flaherty, Joe.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Foley, Norma.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harkin, Marian.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Leddin, Brian.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Matthews, Steven.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noonan, Malcolm.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Joe.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connor, James.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Gorman, Roderic.
  • O'Sullivan, Christopher.
  • O'Sullivan, Pádraig.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Smyth, Ossian.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Varadkar, Leo.

Níl

  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Berry, Cathal.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Browne, Martin.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Cairns, Holly.
  • Carthy, Matt.
  • Clarke, Sorca.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Cronin, Réada.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Pa.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Paul.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Farrell, Mairéad.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Gannon, Gary.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Guirke, Johnny.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Kerrane, Claire.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Murphy, Verona.
  • Mythen, Johnny.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Callaghan, Cian.
  • O'Donoghue, Richard.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Rourke, Darren.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Murchú, Ruairí.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Patricia.
  • Shanahan, Matt.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Tully, Pauline.
  • Ward, Mark.
  • Whitmore, Jennifer.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Jack Chambers and Brendan Griffin; Níl, Deputies Eoin Ó Broin and Richard Boyd Barrett.
Amendment declared carried.

The time permitted for this debate having expired, I am required to put the following question in accordance with an order of the Dáil of 12 July: "That the amendments set down by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage other than amendment No. 25 and not disposed of are hereby made to the Bill; in respect of each of the sections not disposed of, other than section 23, which is hereby deleted, that the section or, as appropriate, the section, as amended, is hereby agreed to in committee, the Title, as amended, is hereby agreed to in committee; the Bill, as amended, is accordingly reported to the House; Fourth Stage is hereby completed; and the Bill is hereby passed."

Question put:
The Committee divided: Tá, 78; Níl, 62; Staon, 0.

  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Carroll MacNeill, Jennifer.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Cathal.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Duffy, Francis Noel.
  • English, Damien.
  • Feighan, Frankie.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Flaherty, Joe.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Foley, Norma.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harkin, Marian.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Leddin, Brian.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Matthews, Steven.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noonan, Malcolm.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Joe.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connor, James.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Gorman, Roderic.
  • O'Sullivan, Christopher.
  • O'Sullivan, Pádraig.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Smyth, Ossian.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Varadkar, Leo.

Níl

  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Berry, Cathal.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Browne, Martin.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Cairns, Holly.
  • Carthy, Matt.
  • Clarke, Sorca.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Cronin, Réada.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Pa.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Paul.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Farrell, Mairéad.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Gannon, Gary.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Guirke, Johnny.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Kerrane, Claire.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Murphy, Verona.
  • Mythen, Johnny.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Callaghan, Cian.
  • O'Donoghue, Richard.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Rourke, Darren.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Murchú, Ruairí.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Patricia.
  • Shanahan, Matt.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Tully, Pauline.
  • Ward, Mark.
  • Whitmore, Jennifer.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Jack Chambers and Brendan Griffin; Níl, Deputies Eoin Ó Broin and Cian O'Callaghan.
Question declared carried.
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