I propose to take Questions Nos. 202 to 204, inclusive, together.
The allocation of social housing support is a matter for individual housing authorities in accordance with the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and associated regulations. While the 2009 Act provides the Minister with limited powers to issue directions and guidance to authorities as to the performance of their housing functions, Section 6 of the 2009 Act specifically precludes the Minister from intervening in individual housing cases.
Local authorities are independent in performing their functions, as provided for under section 63 of the Local Government Act 2001. The Minister has no role in the normal day-to-day operations of individual local authorities. The Minister's role in respect of local government is primarily to provide the policy, financial and legislative framework within which local authorities perform their functions.
In that context, it is important to note that the Local Government Act 2001, Part 15, includes important provisions in relation to the ethical framework applicable to the local government sector, including providing a statutory basis for a code of conduct that has been issued for all local authority employees. In the ordinary course of events, it would be a matter for the relevant local authority, in the first instance, to investigate any allegations of malpractice regarding the operation of its housing allocation system. Subject to the outcome of any such investigation, it would then be for the local authority to consider what further action, either internally or by way of referring the matter to other relevant appropriate authorities, may be required. However, where the outcome of any such investigation undertaken were to give rise to legislation or policy issues which fall within the remit of my Department, these would of course be considered.
I am aware that Galway City Council undertook an investigation into an improper housing allocation. The Council has advised that the outcome of the investigation was that actions taken in relation to a social housing allocation were outside of the standard protocols and procedures for social housing allocations. In addition to disciplinary action which I understand was taken by the Council, housing allocations procedures have also been reviewed by the Council and a Housing Allocations Group has been established within the Council’s Housing Department to review and agree on social housing allocations before a recommendation is made.