European Parliament Elections Issues

Questions (408)

Barry Cowen

Question:

408. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will specify the timeframe for the re-drawing of the European Parliament constituencies; if his new regional authorities, as outlined in Putting People first, will form the basis for future European constituencies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12756/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

There is a need to adjust the distribution of seats in the European Parliament to take account of the accession of Croatia this year. This is done on the initiative of the European Parliament which will vote this week on a recommendation, from its Constitutional Affairs Committee, on the composition of the European Parliament for the 2014 – 2019 term. The recommendation includes a reduction, from twelve to eleven, in the number of representatives to be elected in Ireland. After the vote in the European Parliament the matter will go to the European Council for decision by unanimity and with the consent of the European Parliament.

In the event that the number of MEPs to be elected to represent Ireland is reduced it will be necessary to review and revise the constituency arrangement. This can be addressed once decisions are made in Europe. In the meantime my Department is giving consideration to how such a review might be carried out having regard to the provisions of the relevant legislation, that is the Electoral Act 1997 and the European Parliament Elections Act 1997.

Water and Sewerage Schemes Status

Questions (409)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

409. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the position regarding a proposed sewage scheme (details supplied) in County Donegal. [12801/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Gweedore Sewerage Scheme is included in my Department’s Water Services Investment Programme 2010 - 2013 as a scheme to commence construction during the lifetime of the Programme. My Department is awaiting the submission by Donegal County Council of their Contract Documents for the scheme.

Local Authority Funding

Questions (410)

Sandra McLellan

Question:

410. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government when the money collected for the household charge will be distributed to local authorities in view of the fact that it is a year since the charge was introduced and local authorities are yet to see the benefits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12830/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 provides that income from the Household Charge is to be paid in to the Local Government Fund. I have generally disbursed Household Charge revenues to local authorities, quarterly and in advance, within General-Purpose Grant payments. As of 8 March 2013, the Household Charge has raised in excess of €118.8 m for the provision of essential local authority services.

Water and Sewerage Schemes Provision

Questions (411)

Joan Collins

Question:

411. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government in view of his plans to extend the Ringsend waste water plant, Dublin, if he will ensure that appropriate assessments are carried out to ensure the protection of fishing jobs in the area. [6955/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

Dublin City Council’s proposal for the Ringsend Waste Water Treatment Plant Upgrade is included in my Department’s Water Services Investment Programme, 2010 – 2013 as a scheme to start during the lifetime of the Programme. I understand that Dublin City Council’s application for approval of an EIS and planning consent for the proposed expansion of the Ringsend plant was approved by An Bord Pleanála in November 2012. I am informed that the City Council submitted an application to the Environmental Protection Agency for a Dumping at Sea Permit, in accordance with Section 5 of the Dumping at Sea Acts 1996 to 2010, in early December 2012, seeking approval of an alternative to the land-based disposal of the tunnel spoil and that a period of public consultation in relation to this permit application ended on 31 January 2013.

Matters relating to planning applications, permits, licences and authorisations are matters for the relevant statutory regulators such as An Bord Pleanála and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Security of the Elderly

Questions (412)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

412. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if funding will be made available to enable senior alert schemes to provide carbon monoxide alarms to the disabled and the elderly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12857/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Seniors Alert Scheme provides grant assistance towards the purchase and installation of equipment to enable older persons, without sufficient means, to continue to live securely in their homes with confidence, independence and peace of mind. The Scheme provides for monitored personal alarms for persons over 65 years of age living on their own or with other qualifying persons. In the current economic climate, the Department’s priority is to continue to provide for the maximum number of personal monitored alarms to as many older persons as possible in 2013. I have no plans at present to extend the measure to carbon monoxide monitors.

Leader Programmes Funding

Questions (413)

Dara Calleary

Question:

413. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will outline in tabular form the amount of LEADER funding available, approved and paid out by each local partnership company; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12912/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

In late 2011 the European Commission approved a change in the maximum co-funding rate from 55% to 85% for the Axes 3 and 4 elements (LEADER) of Ireland’s Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2007-2013. Prior to this the Axes 3 and 4 RDP measures were co-funded at a rate of 55% by the EU, with the remaining 45% coming from national exchequer sources. The 2011 agreement reduced the national exchequer input to 15% on a net basis for 2012 and 2013 without a concomitant increase in the amount of funding to be provided by the EU. This resulted in a reduction in the overall Programme complement from €427m to approximately €314m on the basis of the Programme achieving full spend by the end of 2013.

In this context the original project allocations given to each Local Development Company (LDC) contracted to deliver the LEADER elements of the RDP required readjustment.  My Department is currently determining the level of project commitments across all LDCs and all RDP measures in order to complete the rebalancing of the programme in as equitable a way as possible.  In addition, given the levels of spending by the LDCs from 2009 to date it is very unlikely that full spend will be achieved by the end of 2013. The co-funding rate will revert to 55% for all expenditure beyond the end of 2013 and as a consequence of this the overall Programme requirement will also change. Until such time as the rebalancing exercise as outlined has been satisfactorily completed it is not possible to be definitive regarding the remaining funding available for project commitments under Axis 3&4 of the RDP. I expect this exercise to be completed shortly.

The table details the current level of project approval and expenditure in all of the LDCs contracted to deliver Axes 3 and 4 of the RDP.

LDC

Committed

Total Paid

Avondhu Blackwater Partnership Ltd.

4,217,878.38

3,385,710.10

Ballyhoura Development Ltd.

14,429,162.29

5,268,439.46

Carlow County Development Partnership Ltd

3,486,286.22

2,778,461.28

Cavan-Monaghan LEADER

6,314,067.95

2,869,133.36

Cill Dara Ar Aghaidh Teo

5,071,129.39

1,990,890.79

Clare Local Development Company Ltd.

10,686,208.00

5,163,073.00

Co Kilkenny LEADER Partnership

6,436,001.03

3,917,653.61

Co Wicklow Community Partnership

3,525,781.00

2,507,862.00

Co. Sligo LEADER Partnership Company Ltd

6,593,078.55

4,369,172.57

Comhar na nOileáin Teoranta

2,796,223.99

1,863,384.47

Donegal Local Development Company Ltd.

5,794,695.99

4,342,364.36

Fingal LEADER Partnership Co.

2,090,851.39

758,607.42

FORUM Connemara Ltd.

2,715,975.79

1,866,918.03

Galway Rural Development Company

7,315,283.19

4,528,771.51

Inishowen Development Partnership

4,920,640.57

3,151,737.98

IRD Duhallow Ltd.

9,222,328.87

4,067,790.60

Laois Community and Enterprise Dev

6,016,828.44

2,721,392.88

Leitrim Integrated Development Co Ltd

5,300,346.55

3,100,806.09

Longford Community Resources Ltd

4,509,771.15

2,533,703.81

Louth LEADER Partnership

3,043,973.10

2,200,084.05

Mayo North East LEADER Partnership Co.

4,019,323.71

2,765,372.50

Meath Community Rural and Social Dev.

7,146,281.83

2,913,623.42

Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta

4,169,606.03

1,968,042.53

North Tipperary LEADER Partnership

8,618,373.67

4,342,465.82

Offaly Integrated Local Dev Co. Ltd.

6,868,635.22

3,725,898.21

Roscommon Integrated Development Company

5,949,155.96

3,409,081.80

South and East Cork Area Dev Ltd.

5,395,952.82

3,423,500.20

South Kerry Development Ltd.

4,255,947.63

2,435,958.98

South Tipperary Local Development Co Ltd

8,911,725.37

4,216,241.13

South West Mayo Development Company Ltd

5,387,662.76

4,040,148.06

Waterford LEADER Partnership Ltd.

6,832,761.05

3,717,463.09

West Cork Development Partnership Ltd.

7,329,807.97

4,371,683.45

West Limerick Resources Ltd

4,570,850.87

2,757,936.41

Westmeath Community Development Ltd

4,131,133.17

2,210,001.36

Wexford Local Development

7,616,928.25

4,375,536.35

 

210,374,443.29

116,588,121.22

Leader Programmes Funding

Questions (414)

Dara Calleary

Question:

414. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the overall amount of Leader funding made available under the 2007 to 2013 for Gaeltacht areas; if he will advise on the amount of funding already approved and paid out; the steps being taken to approve further projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12913/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta (MFG) was the Local Development Company contracted by my Department to deliver Axes 3 & 4 (LEADER) of the Rural Development Programme (RDP) in Gaeltacht Areas for the current 2007-2013 programming period. MFG went into liquidation on the 7 September 2011. The delivery of RDP funding to most of the Gaeltacht areas previously served by MFG is now being facilitated by the geographically contiguous Local Development Companies (LDCs). Between February 2009 and September 2011 MFG registered expenditure of €1.9 million and at the time of the liquidation had outstanding project commitments of €4.1 million which are now being dealt with by the contiguous LDCs.

In late 2011 the European Commission approved a change in the maximum co-funding rate from 55% to 85% for the Axes 3 and 4 elements (LEADER) of Ireland’s Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2007-2013. Prior to this the Axes 3 and 4 RDP measures were co-funded at a rate of 55% by the EU, with the remaining 45% coming from national exchequer sources. The 2011 agreement reduced the national exchequer input to 15% on a net basis for 2012 and 2013 without a concomitant increase in the amount of funding to be provided by the EU. This resulted in a reduction in the overall Programme complement from €427m to approximately €314m on the basis of the Programme achieving full spend by the end of 2013.

In this context the original project allocations given to each Local Development Company (LDC) contracted to deliver the LEADER elements of the RDP including MFG required readjustment.  My Department is currently determining the level of project commitments across all LDCs and all RDP measures in order to complete the rebalancing of the programme in as equitable a way as possible.  In addition, given the levels of spending by the LDCs from 2009 to date it is very unlikely that full spend will be achieved by the end of 2013. The co-funding rate will revert to 55% for all expenditure beyond the end of 2013 and as a consequence of this the overall Programme requirement will also change. Until such time as the rebalancing exercise as outlined has been satisfactorily completed it is not possible to be definitive regarding the remaining funding available for project commitments for any areas covered by the RDP, including Gaeltacht areas. I expect this exercise to be completed shortly.

Local Authority Staff Issues

Question No. 416 answered with Question No. 120.

Questions (415)

Patrick Nulty

Question:

415. Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number of staff who have been lost by the four Dublin region local authorities each year for the past five years, in tabular form and per local authority; if he is satisfied that each of these local authorities is adequately staffed in view of the great pressure facing them and their staff; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12914/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The moratorium on recruitment and promotion in the public service was introduced in March 2009 in response to the financial crisis. My Department operates a delegated sanction from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for implementation of the moratorium in relation to local authorities, and any exceptions to the moratorium in local authorities require sanction from my Department.

Under section 159 of the Local Government Act 2001, each City and County Manager is responsible for staffing and organisational arrangements necessary for carrying out the functions of the local authorities for which he or she is responsible. In this regard, it is a matter for City and County Managers, in the first instance, to ensure that the moratorium is implemented while the appropriate service levels are maintained. My Department examines all staffing sanction requests on a case by case basis having due regard to the continued delivery of key services in the context of staffing and budgetary constraints. In considering sanction requests public safety, maintaining key front line services, and economic issues are given precedence.

The reduction in staff numbers at each of the four Dublin Region Local Authorities is set out in the table on a whole time equivalent basis (WTE).

Local Authority

Year

Total Staff (WTE)

Staff Reductions (WTE)

Dublin City Council

2007

6874.65

----------

2008

6931.50

+( 56.85 )

2009

6480.45

451.05

2010

6298.30

182.15

2011

6072.35

225.95

2012

5772.70

299.65

  

Dun-Laoghaire / Rathdown CC

2007

1285.00

--------

2008

1242.00

43.00

2009

1195.90

46.10

2010

1143.40

52.50

2011

1063.60

79.80

2012

1028.30

35.30

  

Fingal CC

2007

1599.88

--------

2008

1589.79

10.09

2009

1490.39

99.40

2010

1441.90

48.49

2011

1391.90

50.00

2012

1330.70

61.20

Local Authority

Year

Total Staff (WTE)

Staff Reductions (WTE)

South Dublin CC

2007

1461.50

--------

 

2008

1472.25

+( 10.75 )

 

2009

1402.55

69.70

 

2010

1344.70

57.85

 

2011

1277.60

67.10

 

2012

1176.47

101.13

Question No. 416 answered with Question No. 120.

Planning Issues

Questions (417, 418, 419)

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

417. Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if local authorities are obliged to follow the development contributions guidelines for planning authorities as issued by his Department. [12944/13]

View answer

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

418. Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if local authorities are obliged to follow the development contributions guidelines for planning authorities. [12945/13]

View answer

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

419. Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 214 of 27 February 2013, if he will clarify the meaning of his statement that guidelines published by Dublin City Council are substantially in accordance with the draft guidelines. [12946/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 417 to 419, inclusive, together.

My role, as Minister, is to provide the necessary statutory and policy framework within which individual development contribution schemes are adopted by each local authority. The adoption of individual development contribution schemes is a reserved function of the locally elected members of each planning authority. While planning authorities, and An Bord Pleanála, are required to have regard to the guidelines in performance of their functions under the Planning Acts, it is a matter for the members to determine the level of contributions and the types of developments to which they will apply. Dublin City Council’s current development contributions scheme was adopted by the elected members before the publication of the new statutory guidelines. Nevertheless, the scheme reflects very closely the final content of the statutory guidance and contains several innovative provisions that are fully consistent with the pro-jobs/pro-planning objectives of the guidelines.

The guidelines were issued under section 28 of the Planning and Development Acts 2000 - 2012. This means that planning authorities are required to have regard to the guidelines in performance of their functions under the Planning Acts. However, the guidelines do not seek to alter the roles and functions of the elected members, the executive functions of local authorities or the role of my Department. They are intended, rather, to provide the necessary statutory and policy framework within which individual development contribution schemes are adopted by each local authority.

Homelessness Strategy

Questions (420, 422)

Michael P. Kitt

Question:

420. Deputy Michael P. Kitt asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he is satisfied that he has the most up-to-date information on homelessness; the sources of this information for the homelessness policy statement; the funding available to bring to an end long-term homelessness here; the issues involved in youth homelessness; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12954/13]

View answer

Dessie Ellis

Question:

422. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his views on whether the development of sustainable, permanent social housing owned by local authorities is an important part of the drive to end long term homelessness. [12957/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 420 and 422 together.

I recently published a Homelessness Policy Statement in which I outlined the Government's aim to end long-term homelessness by the end of 2016. The statement emphasises a housing-led approach which is about accessing permanent housing as the primary response to all forms of homelessness. The availability and supply of secure, affordable and adequate housing is essential in ensuring sustainable tenancies and ending long-term homelessness. When I published the statement, I announced a set of indicators which will be used to demonstrate the dynamics of homelessness as it is addressed. These indicators will give a clearer picture of homelessness in Ireland, and, in quantifying its on-going extent, will support the bringing forward of realistic and practical solutions.

While I acknowledge that the approach to all forms of homelessness, including child, youth and adult homelessness should be fully integrated, my colleague, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs is currently overseeing a review of the Youth Homelessness Strategy. I established a high-level three-person oversight group for the purpose of reviewing the approach being advocated in the statement, reviewing progress with indicators, identifying obstacles and proposing solutions. In relation to the funding available for homelessness accommodation and related services, the Revised Estimates Volume to be published shortly by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform will outline the level of funding available in 2013. The allocation of this funding to housing authorities will be undertaken by my Department in the coming weeks.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

Question No. 422 answered with Question No. 420.

Questions (421)

Dessie Ellis

Question:

421. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide an update on his Department's pursuit of the use of social housing bonds to develop more permanent social housing units particularly those in public ownership. [12956/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

My Department is exploring, including in consultation with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and sector stakeholders, options to facilitate the increased provision of social housing using innovative funding approaches, including, potentially, social housing bonds and social impact bonds. A number of proposals are being developed in this regard but are at a preliminary stage of development.

Question No. 422 answered with Question No. 420.

Local Authority Housing Provision

Questions (423)

Dessie Ellis

Question:

423. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his plans for measures to ensure that local authorities properly draw down funding allocated to them to provide for the needs of local people to whom they are responsible, especially in the case of Traveller specific accommodation. [12958/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

My Department closely monitors progress by housing authorities in relation to the implementation of annual work programmes for the supply and improvement of social housing and funded under the Social Housing Investment Programme (SHIP). Capital allocations in respect of 2013 have recently issued to all housing authorities who, in turn, have been requested to submit quarterly profiles of expenditure under each of the eight principal measures within the SHIP, including the Traveller Accommodation Programme. Expenditure will be closely monitored against profiled amounts and will also be the subject of discussions between my Department and the authorities at meetings to review housing work programmes, commencing in Quarter 2, 2013.

Local Authority Housing Rents

Questions (424)

Dessie Ellis

Question:

424. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will make a commitment to local authority tenants that their rents will not increase or other services be cut as a result of the levying of the property tax on local authority properties. [12959/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The current arrangements for determining local authority rents will be substantially replaced on the coming into force over the next year of section 31 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009. The rent payable by individual households will be determined by the housing authority in accordance with a rent scheme made by the elected members of the authority. Each rent scheme must comply with regulations that I will make under section 31, which does not make specific provision for the Local Property Tax to be taken into account in the determination of rents. In accordance with the legislation, councils will have a degree of discretion in making their rent schemes as regards the manner in which they provide for the determination of rents and other charges for works and services to their dwellings.

Pyrite Remediation Programme Implementation

Questions (425)

Dessie Ellis

Question:

425. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide an update on the removal of pyrite from affected homes; the numbers that have successfully been completed in targets for 2013; and when the remediation scheme proposed will be operational. [12960/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

In December, 2012 the Government approved the imposition of a levy on the quarrying and insurance sectors as a mechanism to fund a pyrite remediation scheme. Primary legislation is required to underpin the imposition of the levy and my Department is currently advancing the drafting of the General Scheme of a Bill to provide for this. It is my intention that the Bill will be published and enacted in the shortest possible timeframe and there will be no delay on my part in this regard.

The Government also approved the establishment of a Pyrite Resolution Board and I have previously announced its establishment under the Chairmanship of Mr. John O’Connor, former Chairman of An Bord Pleanála, and the appointment of four Board members. The construction stakeholders (the Construction Industry Federation, the Irish Concrete Federation and HomeBond) have agreed to establish a not-for-profit entity to operate the remediation scheme. The Resolution Board will work closely with the entity to oversee and ensure the effective implementation of a pyrite remediation scheme for homeowners who have no other avenues of redress open to them. The Pyrite Resolution Board is working on drawing up the precise scope of the remediation scheme, eligibility criteria, procedures, priorities, etc. It is also in the process of developing its own website where it will publish documentation and a system for receiving applications from eligible homeowners.

My Department is also engaging in discussions with a number of financial institutions facilitated by the Irish Banking Federation with a view to securing a loan facility which the not-for-profit entity would draw down to permit the earliest possible commencement of remediation works. It is intended that detailed negotiations with the prospective lenders on the terms and conditions of this facility will be concluded by the not-for-profit entity. Loan funds drawn down would be repaid over time from the proceeds of the statutory levies.

Pyrite remediation works have been completed on a number of social housing projects and in a number of other cases they are at the early stages of investigation and testing. Extensive remediation work to address pyrite problems in the apartment complex of 124 units at Sillogue 4, Ballymun and the Clancarthy Senior Citizens complex have been completed, while tenders have been received in the case of six units at Avilla Park. While my Department is making funding available for these projects, in the longer term, all legal liabilities will be pursued with a view to recouping the cost of these works.

The report of the Pyrite Panel indicated that 1,100 private dwellings had been or were in the process of being remediated at March, 2012. I understand remediation works, funded under various forms of insurance cover, are progressing in a considerable number of cases and are also being undertaken directly by builders.

Unfinished Housing Developments

Questions (426)

Dessie Ellis

Question:

426. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide an update on works to an estate (details supplied) in County Longford including the specific works that have been carried out; the timetable for future works; and any additional funding which may be available or needed. [12961/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

My Department has made allocations under the public safety initiative totalling €291,753 to Longford County Council to assist in their efforts to tackle the difficulties faced by the residents of this development, and has been kept informed of the extensive range of works which the local authority is currently carrying out and which will continue for some time. While it is a matter for the local authority to determine the nature and scale of the works required to make relevant unfinished housing developments safe, I understand that in this case a comprehensive survey has been conducted into the condition of underground services, that a new public lighting system has been installed and that works are underway to facilitate services diversions and improvements to roads surfaces so that the public areas in the development are to an acceptable standard. As with all allocations made under the public safety initiative, it is incumbent on local authorities to pursue the responsible parties for reimbursement of funds expended, and once recovered to return these to the Exchequer.

Local Authority Housing Waiting Lists

Questions (427, 440)

Dessie Ellis

Question:

427. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide a breakdown on a Dáil constituency basis of the number of persons on social housing waiting lists, specifying numbers waiting five years and more and ten years and more. [12962/13]

View answer

Bernard Durkan

Question:

440. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will indicate by county or local authority the number of persons currently awaiting rehousing by the local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13051/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 427 and 440 together.

My Department does not maintain a record of the number of households on local authority waiting lists, which changes from day to day according as households are allocated housing and other households apply for social housing support. A breakdown by housing authority of the last point-in-time assessment of housing need, carried out in March 2011 under the Housing Act 1988, is available on my Department’s website at www.environ.ie and the Housing Agency’s website at www.housing.ie. Social housing assessments are now carried out by housing authorities under section 20 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and I have directed authorities, under section 21 of that Act, to provide a summary of these assessments as at 30 April 2013. The findings from these summaries will be published in the Autumn.

Community Development Initiatives

Questions (428)

Dessie Ellis

Question:

428. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the measures he is taking to ensure better community relations between the Traveller and settled communities, particularly in areas which have experienced difficulties with this in the past. [12963/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

My Department’s role with regard to Travellers relates primarily to accommodation issues. In accordance with the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act 1998, statutory responsibility for the assessment of the accommodation needs of Travellers and the preparation, adoption and implementation of multi-annual Traveller Accommodation Programmes, designed to meet the accommodation needs of Travellers, rests with individual housing authorities. My Department’s responsibility is to ensure that there is an adequate legislative and financial system in place to assist the authorities in providing such accommodation.

The 1998 Act places a strong emphasis on consultation with all stakeholders and interested parties, an important requirement in ensuring good community relations between the Traveller and settled community on the issue of Traveller accommodation. Local Authorities are required to prepare their multi-annual Traveller Accommodation Programmes in consultation with other statutory bodies, community groups and other relevant parties, Travellers and the public in general. Local authorities are also required to establish a Local Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee (LTACC), which is representative of Travellers, local authority elected members and the public. The primary role of the LTACC is to advise on Traveller accommodation issues locally. The purpose of these consultative arrangements is to ensure that the interests of all concerned with, or affected by, proposals for Traveller accommodation are considered and to facilitate a planned and comprehensive response by housing authorities to the accommodation needs of Travellers.

The current round of Traveller Accommodation Programmes will conclude at the end of 2013 and local authorities are currently making arrangements for the adoption of a new round of programmes for the period 2014-2018. The wider issue of community relations generally is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality.