Traveller Accommodation

Questions (1577)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

1577. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the estimated average all-in cost of accommodation for members of the Traveller community. [19673/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Traveller households in receipt of social housing supports are accommodated in a variety of different housing types. The majority of Traveller households in receipt of social housing supports live in standard housing, including local authority owned properties, Approved Housing Body owned properties and tenancies in the private rented sector supported through the Housing Assistance Payment.

My Department also provides a capital budget to support the delivery of housing for Traveller households with a preference for Traveller-specific housing, such as halting sites. €13m has been provided for this purpose in 2019. Due to the variety of different social housing solutions provided, it is not possible to provide a representative average cost.

Social and Affordable Housing Expenditure

Questions (1578, 1579)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

1578. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the estimated average all-in cost of an affordable home for rent. [19674/19]

View answer

Pearse Doherty

Question:

1579. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the estimated average all-in cost of affordable homes based on a model (details supplied). [19675/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1578 and 1579 together.

The Government has committed €310 million over the three year period 2019 to 2021 under the Serviced Sites Fund (SSF). The objective of the SSF is to support local authorities in the provision of key enabling infrastructure on public lands, to get the sites ready for the delivery of affordable housing for both purchase and rent. A maximum amount of SSF funding of €50,000 will be made available per affordable home. On this basis, at least 6,200 affordable homes can be facilitated by this measure alone.

On 11 December 2018, I approved in principle an initial 10 projects that were submitted under the first call of the SSF, with funding of €43 million to be allocated. These projects will have the potential to deliver approximately 1,400 affordable homes from 2020 onwards. The overall cost and the timing of delivery for these projects is contingent upon the completion of planning and procurement in the first instance, and local authorities are working to achieve delivery as quickly as possible. I issued a second call for proposals under the SSF on 9 April 2019.

In relation to the Deputy's query, Ó’Cualann Co-Housing Alliance is a co-operative housing alliance with Approved Housing Body Status. The inaugural O'Cualann project in Poppintree, Ballymun, Dublin, involved Dublin City Council, AIB and industry professionals and comprised 49 A2 rated 2-bed, 3-bed and 4-bed homes with sales prices ranging from €140,000 to €220,000. The development was in two phases; phase 1 comprised of 17 houses and is completed and the units are occupied and phase 2 comprises 32 houses, 11 houses of which were completed in August 2018. My understanding is that in order for Ó Cualann Co-Housing Alliance to be in a position to provide homes within this price range, Dublin City Council provided fully serviced sites at a nominal cost of €1,000 per unit, as well as waiving development contributions and planning fees. Taking the foregoing into account, the total investment by Dublin City Council approximates to €58,000 per house.

More broadly, in terms of Cost Rental, two pilot projects are currently being progressed. Firstly, a development at the Enniskerry Road, Dublin, which will deliver 50 cost rental homes, is being delivered by the Housing Agency, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and two Approved Housing Bodies (Respond and Túath). Planning permission for the Enniskerry Road development is currently in place. An application submitted by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council for Serviced Sites Fund grant funding for this project has also been successful. Tenders for the project have been assessed and the contract is due to be awarded shortly, with construction expected to commence by the end of this month.

A second project, in St. Michael’s Estate, Emmet Road in Inchicore, is estimated to have the potential to accommodate circa. 470 homes in a high quality development. The current tenure mix as agreed with my Department is 30% social and 70% cost rental. Initial estimates of the St. Michael’s project by the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA) indicated that rents of between 15-25% below market are achievable. The European Investment Bank is also working on this project in terms of financial and advisory services.

These projects will provide very valuable lessons for the development of a national cost rental approach in Ireland and will help to shape the contractual model and specifications for future larger-scale projects.

Electoral Register

Questions (1580)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

1580. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will issue a report on responses received further to the consultation process to modernise the electoral registration process; when this report will be published; the next steps in the process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19768/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

A report in relation to the responses received on the consultation process to modernise the electoral registration process is currently being drafted. It is intended that this report will be published shortly.

A total of 187 submissions were made in respect of the public consultation phase up to the deadline of 15 March 2019. They included submissions specific to particular proposals and also general submissions and observations on modernisation of the electoral registration process in general. Submissions were received from a range of individuals, community and voluntary organisations, Local Authorities, public representatives and political parties. The next steps will be to evaluate different options having regard to the best use of technology, best practice in relation to data protection and cyber security and any necessary legislative changes.

It is worth noting that a project called Voter.ie is currently being piloted by the four Dublin local authorities to facilitate online registration. An evaluation of this initiative will be carried out following the completion of the polls due to be held on the 24th May to assess the experience gained from the project.

Electoral Commission Establishment

Questions (1581)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

1581. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will issue a report on responses received further to the consultation on a regulatory impact analysis on the establishment of an electoral commission; when this report will be published; the next steps in the process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19769/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Twenty-three submissions were received by my Department in relation to the public consultation on the Regulatory Impact Analysis on the Establishment of an Electoral Commission. It is not intended to publish a report on these submissions. However, the submissions can be viewed online at:

www.housing.gov.ie/local-government/voting/electoral-commission/public-consultation-regulatory-impact-analysis.

All submissions received will be considered and the content used to inform a preferred option for establishing an electoral commission, which will be brought to Government for consideration. Once a preferred option is agreed, work would then commence on the preparation of the necessary legislation to establish an electoral commission.

Ministerial Appointments

Questions (1582)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

1582. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 588 of 11 December 2018, if the relevant statutory committee appointments by him will be subject to public advertisement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19770/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The processes for the appointment of members to the Professional Conduct Committee and Appeals Board of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) are set out under sections 23 and 24 of the Building Control Act 2007.

In accordance with provisions of the Act, I made the relevant statutory committee appointments and nominations earlier this year. These appointments and nominations are to bodies that do not fall under the aegis of my Department and are not funded by my Department, and therefore do not fall within the state boards process, operated through www.stateboards.ie.

Appointments to State Boards

Questions (1583)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

1583. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he has made State board appointments in the past three years in circumstances in which he has reappointed a person that has already served two full terms contrary to the advice in section 13(2) of the guidelines on appointments to State boards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19771/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

One Board member of Ervia up to January 2018 had been appointed three times in particular circumstances. The Board member was first appointed to the Board of the then Bord Gáis Éireann (BGÉ) with effect from 28 November 2008 for a period of 5 years. This appointment was linked to the company's Employee Share Ownership Plan and the second term on the Board, which commenced on 21 November 2013, was linked to the Profit Sharing Scheme. The second term ended on 5 January 2015, when the Trustee’s holding reduced to less than 1%. Following negotiations at that time, the Board member was appointed for a third term, on 20 January 2015, for a period of 3 years.

In accordance with the Guidelines on Appointments to State Boards and the exceptions to the arrangements provided in section 9 of those Guidelines, as well as the exceptional arrangements set out in section 4.5 of the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies, I, with Government approval, re-appointed the Board member to the Ervia Board on an exceptional basis for a term of 3 years with effect from 10 July 2018. In doing so, regard was had to the individual's background and experience in trade unions and his contribution to and experience on the Board of Ervia over a period which involved several major organisational changes.

The Chairperson of the Property Registration Authority was re-appointed, on 4 November 2018, for a third term. Work is currently underway to progress the merger of the Property Registration Authority, Valuation Office and Ordinance Survey Ireland. While the full implementation of the merger requires the passing of legislation, the merger continues to progress on an administrative basis. It was for this reason that the Chairperson was reappointed until 3 November 2022 or the establishment of Táilte Éireann, whichever is sooner.

Register of Electors

Questions (1584)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

1584. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the measures he has taken to address the report by the EU Commission in January 2014 that Ireland was disenfranchising Irish citizens living in other EU member states from voting in elections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19772/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Under Part II of the Electoral Act 1992, every person is entitled to be entered on the register of electors if that person:

- has reached the age of 18 years, and

- is ordinarily resident in a constituency in the State.

Subject to the age and residency requirements, a registered elector’s citizenship then determines the polls at which he or she is entitled to vote. Irish citizens alone are entitled to vote at all elections (i.e. local, European, Dáil, and presidential) and at referendums. Citizens of other Member States of the European Union may vote at European Parliament and local elections. British citizens are also eligible to vote at Dáil elections. Non-EU citizens may vote at local elections only.

In addition, Irish citizens who are resident in Member States of the European Union other than the State are entitled to vote at, and/or stand as candidates in, local and European elections held in those Member States under the same conditions that apply to the citizens of those Member States.

However, subject to a limited number of exceptions, Irish citizens resident outside the State do not have the right to vote at elections or at referendums held in the State. To provide for such an extended franchise at Dáil and at presidential elections as well as at referendums would require Constitutional amendment.

In this context and in response to the evolving needs of Irish society and its relationship with the wider Irish diaspora, the Government agreed in March 2017 to accept in principle the main recommendation in the Fifth Report of the Convention on the Constitution that Irish citizens resident outside the State, including citizens resident in Northern Ireland, should have the right to vote at presidential elections and that a referendum would be held to seek to amend the Constitution to give effect to this. The extension of voting rights at other elections to Irish citizens resident outside the State is not under consideration at this point in time.

In order to inform public discourse on this significant policy change, an Options Paper was published on 22 March 2017 by my Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The Options Paper sets out a broad range of options for the extension of voting rights, international comparisons, the estimated costs involved and related resource issues as well as many of the legal, policy, administrative and logistical challenges associated with extending voting rights to Irish citizens resident outside the State. These options provided a basis for the discussion on voting rights which took place at the Global Irish Civic Forum in Dublin on 5 May 2017.

More recently, the Government agreed on 5 February 2019 that, subject to the timely passage of a Constitution Amendment Bill by each House of the Oireachtas, the proposed referendum on extending the franchise at presidential elections would be held in October 2019. The Government also agreed that the preferred option to be put to the people in a referendum is for an extension of the franchise to all citizens resident outside the State, including citizens resident in Northern Ireland. This will inform the development of a Constitution Amendment Bill in good time for the holding of a referendum in October 2019.

Vacant Sites

Questions (1585)

Hildegarde Naughton

Question:

1585. Deputy Hildegarde Naughton asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of sites included on the vacant site register under the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015 by Galway City Council and Galway County Council to date; the amount collected as a result; the developers and companies included on the register; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19783/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Under the vacant site levy provisions of the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015, planning authorities are empowered to apply a vacant site levy of 3% of the market value of relevant vacant sites. These arrangements commenced in respect of vacant sites included on local authority vacant site registers prior to 1 January 2018 with payment of the levy due in January 2019.

While all 31 local authorities have established vacant site registers, not all registers have been populated to date as some local authorities are undertaking the necessary preparatory work in this regard, such as identifying relevant vacant sites, their registered owners and commissioning the market valuations of such sites.

My Department does not maintain a central register of vacant sites as each local authority administers the vacant site register in respect of their functional area. As provided for under the Act, the register in respect of each local authority is available for inspection at its offices and on-line on its website.

Following enquiries made by my Department with both Galway City and Galway County Councils, I understand that Galway City Council entered four sites on its register in March this year in respect of which the levy will be liable if the sites remain on the register on 1 January 2020 and no development work is activated on the sites in question in the interim. Details regarding the registered owners of the sites in question can be viewed on the Council's vacant sites register on its website. Galway County Council is continuing to undertake the necessary preparatory and site assessment work before entering sites on its register. Therefore, no levy income has accrued to the two Councils to date.

In relation to implementation of the levy provisions generally, on foot of a review of the on-line registers, I understand that a total of 22 planning authorities have populated their vacant site registers with over 380 sites, of which over 120 were listed on the registers on 1 January 2018 and in respect of which the levy could be applied in January 2019.

While application of the levy provisions is a matter for individual local authorities, my Department continues to monitor implementation of the levy to ensure that it is being effectively applied, in line with its intended purpose of incentivising the development of vacant or under-utilised sites in urban areas. To support this work, progress reports were requested from local authorities and the responses received are currently being examined by my Department to see what further implementation supports may be required.

My Department will continue to engage proactively with local authorities to ensure the vacant site levy achieves its full potential.

Rent Pressure Zones

Questions (1586)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

1586. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if rent pressure zones in Cork are to include the Ballincollig-Carrigaline municipal district as revised; and if the southern end of Carrigaline, including Fountainstown, Myrtleville and Crosshaven, will now fall under the new Carrigaline municipal district and be considered a designated rent pressure zone as a result. [19784/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The expiry date of all deemed and designated RPZs will be extended to 31 December 2021 under the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2018. The Bill further provides that any area falling within the new Cork City Council boundary, which is not already within a RPZ, will become one from 31 May 2019.

Areas already designated as RPZs will remain designated and areas that are not designated nor due to become part of Cork City Council will retain their current undesignated status.

New Local Electoral Areas (LEAs) and Municipal Districts were signed into law on 31 January 2019 for Cork City and County (which took into account the expanded Cork City boundary) for the May 2019 local elections. The previous Ballincollig-Carrigaline Local Electoral Area is amended so that Ballincollig and its eastern hinterland will come within the remit of Cork City on 31 May 2019. Ballincollig will become part of the ‘Cork City South West LEA’ and will become a RPZ by virtue of coming within the Cork City boundary.

Carrigaline and its hinterland will be contained within its own LEA and Municipal District, which will become wholly within the remit of Cork County Council on 31 May 2019. The areas of Fountainstwon, Myrtleville and Crosshaven will be contained in the Carrigaline LEA and will come under the remit of Cork County Council and as such will not become RPZs by virture of the change to the boundary.

The Boundary Committee Reports 1 and 2 which recommended these changes show the new LEAs – Report No. 1 contains Cork County and Report No. 2, Cork City. These reports are available at the following link: http://boundarycommittee.ie/.

Rental Sector

Questions (1587)

John Curran

Question:

1587. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the details of enforcement of standards and rent books in 2018 of rental property inspections carried out in each local authority in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19805/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Strategy for the Rental Sector, published in December 2016, set out a series of measures to be introduced to ensure the quality of private rental accommodation by strengthening the applicable standards and improving the inspection and enforcement systems.

The Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2019 focus on tenant safety and include new measures covering heating appliances, carbon monoxide and window safety. My Department also published a guidance document to assist and support local authorities in implementing the new Regulations.

All landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that their rented properties comply with these regulations and responsibility for the enforcement of the Regulations rests with the relevant local authority.

Between 2005 and 2017, over €36 million has been paid to local authorities to assist them in the performance of their functions under the Housing Acts, including the inspection of rented accommodation. Over 229,000 inspections were carried out during this period.

The Rental Strategy recognises the need for additional resources to be provided to local authorities to aid increased inspections of properties and ensure greater compliance with the Regulations. Provision has been made for €4.5 million of Exchequer funding to be made available to local authorities in 2019 for this purpose, with the intention of providing further increases each year in the period to 2021 to facilitate a targeted inspection coverage of 25% of rental properties annually at that stage.

Detailed information in relation to inspections carried out by each Local Authority since 2005 can be found on my Department's website at the following link:

www.housing.gov.ie/housing/statistics/house-building-and-private-rented/private-housing-market-statistics.

Information in relation to 2018 is currently being collated by my Department and will be available on my Department's website shortly.

Local Authority Housing

Question No. 1590 answered with Question No. 1552.

Questions (1588, 1589)

John Curran

Question:

1588. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of housing applicants in each local authority that have refused more than one offer of a home in the past three years in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19806/19]

View answer

John Curran

Question:

1589. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of housing applicants in each local authority that have been suspended from local authority housing lists after refusing more than one offer of a home in the past three years in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19807/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1588 and 1589 together.

Detailed data of the kind sought by the Deputy is not held in my Department as the management of the letting of social housing homes is a matter for individual housing authorities in the first instance.

The current position in relation to the refusal by households of offers of social housing dwellings is set down in Regulation 12 of the Social Housing Allocation Regulations 2011, made under section 22 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009.

Under Regulation 12, a household that refuses two reasonable offers of social housing tenancies in any twelve-month period, other than an offer made under the Choice Based Letting procedure, will not receive any further offers from any local authority for a period of one year from the date of the second refusal. An offer is deemed to be reasonable where the dwelling concerned would, in the opinion of the authority, meet the housing needs of the household and, except in an emergency, is located in an area of choice specified by the household.

From engagement with the local authority sector, it has become apparent that the current 12-month sanction is not operating in a manner that sufficiently addresses the potential for households on the waiting list to turn down reasonable housing offers. The refusal of offers can have a serious impact on the efforts by local authorities to manage their social housing letting process effectively and efficiently, lengthening the period ultimately required to complete lettings or re-lettings and resulting in a loss of essential differential rent revenue for extended periods.

For these reasons, I plan to amend the regulations to provide that a household that refuses two reasonable offers in any twelve-month period, other than an offer made under the Choice Based Letting procedure, will not receive any further offers from any local authority for a period of five years. The latter period will not be reckonable subsequently for the purposes of determining the household’s relative priority for another social housing tenancy.

Having regard to the overall level of demand for social housing, I am satisfied that the change proposed is a measured step. It is ultimately fair to all households on local authority social housing waiting lists and will be supportive of the work of local authorities, as they seek to improve the efficient use of their social housing stock.

Question No. 1590 answered with Question No. 1552.

Non-Principal Private Residence Charge Collection

Questions (1591)

Michael McGrath

Question:

1591. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the position in relation to amounts outstanding on the non-principal private residence charge; the amount outstanding; the amount collected in recent years; the penalties collected; if the outstanding liability is now capped; if there are extenuating circumstances in which the liability may be reduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19943/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Local Government (Charges) Act 2009, as amended, provided the legislative basis for the Non-Principal Private Residence (NPPR) charge. The NPPR charge applied in the years 2009 to 2013 to any residential property in which the owner did not reside as their normal place of residence. The self-assessed charge was set at €200 per annum and liability for it falls, in the main, on owners of rental, holiday and vacant properties. It is a matter for an owner to determine if he or she has a liability and, if so, to declare that liability and pay the charge and any late payment fees applicable. Under the Act, it is a function of a local authority to collect NPPR charges and late payment fees due to it.

Proceeds from the charge are retained by local authorities and are used for the provision of local services. Based on data provided by the Local Government Management Agency, I am informed that €648,928,091 has been collected to 1 May 2019. This figures is made up of €397,913,800 in charges and €251,014,291 in late payment fees.

Details of NPPR revenue collected since 2013 are set out in the table below.

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019 (to 1 May)

€79.75m

€38.60m

€35.74m

€37.95m

€49.12m

€11.90m

Part 12 of the Local Government Reform Act 2014 also deals with the collection of undischarged liabilities relating to the NPPR charge. The Act provided for a period from 2 March 2014 to 31 August 2014 during which time no new late penalties were applied to existing liabilities. If payment was not made in full or if settlement terms were not agreed by the end of that period, an additional late payment fee of €120 per liability date applied on 1 September 2014. As the charge applied in each of the years from 2009 to 2013, there were five liability dates – 31 July 2009 and 31 March for each of the years 2010 to 2013. In addition to this late payment fee to be applied per liability date, the entire NPPR liability is then increased by a factor of 50% and frozen; the legislation does not provide for further penalties to apply after this date. Consequently the total five year liability due for property owners who have not discharged their NPPR charge is €7,230.

Under section 77 of the Local Government Reform Act 2014, my Department issued guidance to local authorities concerning matters relating to arrears of the NPPR charge and late payment fees to ensure that a consistent national approach is adopted. The guidelines, which are available at www.housing.gov.ie/en/Publications/LocalGovernment/Administration/FileDownLoad,37899,en.pdf encourage local authorities to take a proactive approach to ensure that any outstanding NPPR liabilities are discharged in the most equitable, efficient and economically beneficial manner and include guidance in respect of dealing with hardship cases. It is expected, in the majority of cases, that local authorities will collect the full NPPR charge liability from owners. In some cases, this may be by means of arrangement by instalment. All non-compliant owners or owners with queries should log on to www.nppr.ie or, alternatively, contact their local authority to discuss any matters they wish to clarify and to make any outstanding payments.

Should an initial claim of hardship be rejected by a local authority, the claimant should also be afforded, if requested, a further appeal to a more senior officer in the local authority. Ultimately, should a subsequent appeal be unsuccessful the complainant should be notified as early as is possible. Claimants should also be informed that if they are still not happy with the determination they can appeal to the Office of the Ombudsman.

Departmental Funding

Question No. 1593 answered with Question No. 1511.

Questions (1592)

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Question:

1592. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to introduce an assistance package for those who lost their homes and other property in the recent wildfires in west County Donegal in addition to other parts of the country; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a great deal of hardship and loss has occurred due to these wildfires and many persons are severely disadvantaged through no fault of their own; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20017/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Despite all the efforts of the fire and emergency services and local farming communities, using controlled burning at appropriate times of the year, wildland fires can unfortunately occur in certain areas of the country at dry times of the year. Where such fires result in the loss of property, particularly peoples family homes or livelihoods, this can be devastating. The priority of fire services in responding to all such incidents is the protection of life in local communities and among emergency responders. An important secondary objective is working with local communities to try to protect family homes and other property, where it is safe to do so.

Considerable inter-agency efforts have been made to reduce the incidence of wildland fires, led by my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, whose Department monitors conditions and issues wildland fire warning notices, That Department has led inter-agency reviews with a view to enhancing the mitigation of wildland/gorse fires. It is imperative that communities and relevant bodies continue to work together to seek to prevent and control wildland fires.

Unfortunately, the deliberate setting of wildfires can also occur. I encourage people in communities affected by wildland fires to join in efforts to prevent such fires being started and to assist An Garda Síochána in trying to establish and bring to justice anyone who recklessly and deliberately sets wildland fires, thereby threatening the lives, property and the environment of those in the local community and further afield.

The emergency response to such wildfires is subject to well established arrangements where local authority fire services may, through the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management (NDFEM) in my Department, request the assistance of the Defence Forces. This kind of support provided to local authority fire services by the Defence Forces in wildland fire-fighting has been very effective and is greatly appreciated.

Where a loss of property occurs in a fire, insurance is the normal means by which persons seek to recover such losses. Neither I nor my Department have any role in providing assistance to households that incur losses due to fires.

Question No. 1593 answered with Question No. 1511.

Water and Sewerage Schemes Grants

Questions (1594)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Question:

1594. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when changes to grant schemes for private wells and septic tanks under the multi-annual rural water programme will come into effect; when local authorities will be provided with revised guidelines and application forms in view of the fact that it was planned that changes would come into effect at the end of April 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20052/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

On 8 February this year, I announced details of the measures being funded through my Department under the Multi-annual Rural Water Programme 2019-2021. This included improved funding schemes for individual wells (more commonly known as private or household wells) and on-site wastewater treatment systems (more commonly known as septic tanks).

The composition of the new multi-annual programme is based on recommendations from the Working Group that I established in April 2018 to conduct a review of investment needs and rural water services. The Working Group, which is chaired by my Department, includes nominees from the National Federation of Group Water Schemes, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Health Service Executive, Department of Rural and Community Development and local authorities, through the County and City Management Association (CCMA).

A guiding principle in developing the new funding schemes is to streamline the application, approval and payment processes as far as possible to maximise uptake and contribute towards drinking water quality and water quality protection and improvement, in line with objectives set out in the Drinking Water Directive and Water Framework Directive. In developing the necessary regulatory and administrative changes to underpin the revised grants schemes, my Department has over recent months consulted and met with key stakeholders, including the CCMA, the Local Authority Waters and Communities Office and the EPA.

Work is at an advanced stage of development for the funding schemes. I expect that the process will be completed in the coming weeks when the necessary Statutory Instruments containing regulations dealing with the financial assistance arrangements and related administrative matters are put in place. This will enable circular letters, terms and conditions, guidance and application forms to issue to local authorities shortly thereafter.

Planning Issues

Questions (1595)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

1595. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when he will publish the review by a person (details supplied) into certain planning matters in respect of Donegal County Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20062/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Review Into Certain Planning Matters In Respect Of Donegal County Council, by Mr. Rory Mulcahy S.C., was received by my Department in June, 2017.

Following initial analysis and assessment of the report’s findings and recommendations, including interaction with the Department’s own legal advisers and the Attorney General’s Office, a comprehensive set of queries and a request for advice in relation to certain matters, including potential dissemination or publication of the report, was submitted to the Attorney General's Office.

Following the receipt of the Attorney's advice, officials in my Department have considered the matter further and prepared a submission for my consideration in respect of, inter alia, the issue of publication or dissemination of the report.

I am considering the report and the extensive legal advices received. Once I have concluded my deliberations, I will be in a position to make a further statement.

Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund

Questions (1596, 1597)

Catherine Martin

Question:

1596. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the reason the proposed Naas inner relief road satisfies the objectives of the LIHAF fund from which it is receiving funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20063/19]

View answer

Catherine Martin

Question:

1597. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on the width of the proposed roadway on the Naas inner relief road route 2 in view of the fact that construction of roads of this nature can encourage high speeds; his further views on the impact of sound proofing walls proposed to be erected adjacent to residential homes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20064/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1596 and 1597 together.

The Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF) is designed to activate housing supply by putting in place the enabling public infrastructure necessary to ensure that large scale development takes place on key sites in urban areas of high housing demand.

Projects were submitted by local authorities and were allocated grant funding based on their performance in a competitive scoring matrix. Final approval was given for 30 projects under LIHAF in 2017. It is anticipated that these projects will stimulate development of approximately 20,000 homes across 14 local authority areas. Kildare County Council submitted a number of projects for funding and three of those received final approval, including the project in Naas referred to.

The construction of the Naas inner relief road will facilitate the delivery of approximately 800 homes, including 142 social housing homes on associated sites. This includes a local authority site where Kildare County Council will provide more than 70 social housing homes through a public private partnership arrangement. 123 of these homes had been delivered up to the end of 2018.

Management and delivery of LIHAF projects is a matter for each individual local authority. However, I am advised by Kildare County Council that the proposed road complies with the standards contained in the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets (DMURS) and that it will have a speed limit of 50kph. In addition, it will have two traffic signal controlled junctions, cycle lanes and footpaths.

I look forward to the successful provision of this enabling infrastructure by Kildare County Council, supported by LIHAF funding, and the provision of much needed housing in the Naas area.

Election Material

Questions (1598)

Clare Daly

Question:

1598. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on factually inaccurate information being printed and distributed on election material; and the remedy in place for correcting such falsehoods. [20070/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Electoral Acts provide that every notice, bill, poster or similar document, having reference to an election or distributed for the purpose of furthering a particular candidate at an election, is required to bear upon its face the name and address of the printer and of the publisher thereof. The Electoral Acts do not regulate the content of electoral material, including election posters, leaflets or other similar material, either during or outside of electoral campaigns.

Section 7 of the Public Order Act 1994 provides that is an offence for any person in a public place to distribute or display any writing, sign or visible representation, which is threatening, abusive, insulting or obscene with intent to provoke a breach of peace. In this regard it would be a matter for An Garda Síochána to deal with public order offences generally, including offences under section 7 of the Act, either at their own instigation or on foot of allegations made in that regard.

Irish Water

Questions (1599)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

1599. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the reason he has chosen to replace Irish Water commercial debt with State-funded debt; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19509/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

In April 2017, the Report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services recommended that Irish Water's current commercial loan facility be reviewed and replaced, where possible, with State lending facilities by arrangement with the National Treasury Management Agency. This followed on a Government decision in October 2016 that Irish Water's external debt facilities should be replaced, where possible, with more competitively priced State funded debt facilities.

In March 2019, the Government agreed to implement the recommendations of a Department of Finance chaired Working Group on the Replacement of Irish Water's Commercial Debt which recommended the proposed approach for the replacement of the existing commercial debt and provision for new debt. My Department is currently working with Irish Water and key stakeholders to implement the Government decision.

Údarás na Gaeltachta Data

Questions (1600)

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

1600. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of new jobs created by Údarás na Gaeltachta client companies in 2018, by county in tabular form; the number of jobs in client companies in each county; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19074/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

The information requested by the Deputy is outlined in tabular format below.

County

New Full time Jobs Created in 2018

Number of Full time Jobs in Client Companies at

31 December 2018

Dún na nGall

156

2,278

Maigh Eo

83

657

Gaillimh

237

2,978

An Mhí

3

178

Ciarraí

56

689

Corcaigh

45

699

Port Láirge

9

146

Total

589

7,625

Údarás na Gaeltachta Data

Questions (1601)

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

1601. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the properties and land rented by Údarás na Gaeltachta in 2018, in tabular form; the yearly rent paid per property; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19079/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

The information requested by the Deputy, given its complex nature, could not be provided in the time available. A complete reply will be issued to the Deputy as soon as possible, in accordance with Standing Orders.