Local Authority Staff Data

Questions (852)

Mary Butler

Question:

852. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of staff changes in each local authority in each of the years 2008 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form. [29819/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department gathers quarterly data on staff numbers in local authorities. Staffing numbers for the local authority sector are available on the Public Service Numbers databank which is hosted and maintained by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and is available at the following link:

http://databank.per.gov.ie/Public_Service_Numbers.aspx?rep=LA

The information sought is available broken down on a quarterly basis. The staffing levels for the end of Quarter 2, 2019 are currently being collated and will then be published on the databank.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (853)

David Cullinane

Question:

853. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the amount spent on tribunals, commissions of investigation and statutory inquiries in each of the years 2009 to 2018 and to date in 2019, by inquiry, tribunal or commission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29836/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Details of the amount spent by my Department on the Tribunal of Inquiry into Certain Planning Matters and Payments in the years 2009 to date are set out in the following table.  This is the only tribunal, commission or inquiry relating to my Department in the period.

Year

Expenditure 

2009

€5.910m

2010

€3.281m

2011

€4.137m

2012

€3.282m

2013

€5.321m

2014

€5.326m

2015

€4.740m

2016

€3.755m

2017

€11.443m

2018

€4.322m

2019 to-date

€0.246m 

Water and Sewerage Schemes Grants

Questions (854)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

854. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the local authority water and sewer connection waiver and reduction scheme will be reinstated for low-income applicants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29877/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Since 1 January 2014, Irish Water has statutory responsibility for all aspects of the planning, delivery and operation of water and wastewater services at national, regional and local levels. Responsibility for the independent economic regulation of the water sector is assigned to the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU). These are responsibilities that are assigned to Irish Water and to the CRU and in respect of which I have no direct role as Minister.

I understand that the CRU, informed by a multi-stage public consultation process, published its decision on Irish Water’s Connection Charging Policy on 18 December 2018, and the approved Connection Charging Policy came into effect on 1 April 2019.

Irish Water has established a dedicated team to deal with representations and queries from public representatives. The team can be contacted via email at oireachtasmembers@water.ie or by telephone on a dedicated number, 1890 578 578.

Traveller Accommodation

Questions (855)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

855. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the funding allocation to each local authority for Traveller specific accommodation for 2019; and the spend in each local authority to date. [29896/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

In accordance with the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act 1998, housing authorities have statutory responsibility for the assessment of the accommodation needs of Travellers and the preparation, adoption and implementation of multi-annual Traveller Accommodation Programmes (TAPs) in their areas.  My Department’s role is to ensure that there are adequate structures and supports in place to assist the authorities in providing such accommodation, including a national framework of policy, legislation and funding. 

Housing authorities submit funding proposals for individual Traveller-specific projects and developments on an annual basis.  These projects are assessed on a case-by-case basis in my Department in advance of allocations being made.  In addition, further funding may be considered by my Department throughout the year in the light of progress across the programme generally.  There is regular contact between my Department and housing authorities in order to try to ensure maximum progress and drawdown. 

The funding allocated in 2019 and drawn down to-date by housing authorities for Traveller-specific accommodation are set out in the following table:

LOCAL AUTHORITY

ALLOCATION 2019

Drawdown 2019

CARLOW

70,000

-

CAVAN

95,000

-

CLARE

635,000

326,000

CORK CITY  

276,000

-

CORK COUNTY

258,000

167,000

DONEGAL

162,000

-

DUBLIN   CITY

1,629,000

213,000

DUN   LAOGHAIRE-R.DOWN

-

-

FINGAL

-

11,000

SOUTH DUBLIN

131,000

107,000

GALWAY CITY

-

-

GALWAY COUNTY

1,413,000

143,000

KERRY

77,200

-

KILDARE

1,000,000

-

KILKENNY

22,000

171,000

LAOIS

-

-

LEITRIM

178,000

-

LIMERICK CITY AND COUNTY

1,015,000

582,000

LONGFORD

3,000 

-

LOUTH

133,000

-

MAYO

-

-

MEATH

75,000

92,000

MONAGHAN

100,000

-

OFFALY

815,000

228,000

ROSCOMMON

253,000

-

SLIGO

1,436,000

310,000

TIPPERARY

26,000

-

WATERFORD CITY AND COUNTY

170,000

54,000

WESTMEATH

100,000

-

WEXFORD

335,000

-

WICKLOW

105,000

-

 

 

 

TOTAL

10,511,000

2,404,000

RESERVE*

2,489,000

-

BUDGET

13,000,000

2,404,000

* Reserve for emergency replacement mobiles, caravan loan grants and first time buyers grant and new projects that arise throughout the year.

Social and Affordable Housing Data

Questions (856)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

856. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number, location and status of social housing projects in County Galway as part of the Rebuilding Ireland programme; the number of social homes delivered in the county since the beginning of the plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29901/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department publishes status reports on a quarterly basis, which list all social housing construction schemes for all local authority areas, including Galway County Council.  The most recent of these reports covers the period up to the end of March 2019, and contains information on the progress of over 20,300 new social housing homes nationally, which are currently approved and progressing through planning, design and construction, as well as homes delivered to end March 2019.  The report is available on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the following link:

http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-publishes-social-housing-construction-status-report-for-q1-2019/.

Data in relation to social housing delivery overall, across all local authority areas, for the period 2016 to end March 2019, are published on my Department's website at the following link:

https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/social-and-affordble/overall-social-housing-provision.

Housing Adaptation Grant Funding

Questions (857)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

857. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if additional funding will be allocated to Galway County Council in respect of the housing adaptation grant for persons with a disability, housing for older persons scheme and mobility aids grant schemes respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29903/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I have allocated funding of €71.25m nationally in 2019 for the Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability, in respect of private houses.  This includes €2,655,162 for Galway County Council, comprising exchequer funding of €2,124,130 and €531,032 from the local authority, an increase  of €296,352 over 2018.

Over the course of each year, my Department works closely with all local authorities to monitor spend and to achieve a full drawdown of the available funding.  As the year progresses, any underspend by some local authorities, is redistributed to other authorities with high levels of grant activity who seek additional funding.  Accordingly, if Galway County Council require additional funding in 2019, they can submit details to my Department in order to be considered for an increased allocation in the event of underspends elsewhere.

Climate Change Policy

Questions (858)

Denis Naughten

Question:

858. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his Department has ceased the purchase and use of single-use plastics; the public bodies and agencies under his remit to which he has issued an instruction to cease the purchase and use of single-use plastics; when the instruction issued; the bodies which have confirmed that they no longer purchase and use single-use plastics, respectively; the bodies which have not provided such confirmation to date; when they will confirm; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29988/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

In 2018, my Department ceased the purchase of single-use plastic beverage cups, cutlery and drinking straws. This practice ceased well in advance of the requirement of the Government decision to do so after 1 January 2019.

This exclusion of single use plastic is in line with Irish Government policy & EU Directives and has also been included in a Request for Tender document that issued recently for a new catering contract in my Department's headquarters in the Custom House. This includes a requirement for the provision of effective solutions to encourage customers to minimise waste, for example to use reusable takeaway cups, environmentally acceptable hot food take away packaging etc. My Department is also purchasing reusable cups for staff, and a food waste policy will be discussed with the successful tenderer.

The timescale for public bodies to address the requirements in the Government decision is on a slightly deferred basis, with reports due to Ministers by end November 2019. My Department has contacted the bodies under the aegis of my Department, listed in the table below, in that regard. In addition, the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment has notified the local authority sector through the Regional Waste Management Offices and has been in communication with the Local Government Management Agency about the decision and related matters with a view to working with the local government sector on the initiative.

The Environmental Management System at the Custom House, my Department's headquarters, is accredited to ISO 14001 standard. This is a systematic framework to manage the immediate and long-term environmental impacts of an organisation’s products, services and processes. By completing ISO 14001 certification an organisation can assure stakeholders that its environmental management system meets international industry specific environmental standards. My Department has achieved this ISO 14001 accreditation every year since 2002, and this month achieved accreditation to the upgraded standard from 2018 to 2021, the only Government Department to have achieved this accreditation.

Arrangements have been put in place by each Agency to facilitate the provision of information directly to members of the Oireachtas. The contact email address for each agency is set out in the following table.

Agency

Email address

An Bord Pleanála

Oireachtasqueries@pleanala.ie

Ervia, Gas Networks Ireland

oireachtas@ervia.ie

Housing Sustainable Communities Agency

publicreps@housingagency.ie

Housing Finance Agency

oireachtas.enquiries@hfa.ie

Irish Water

oireachtasmembers@water.ie

Local Government Management Agency

corporate@lgma.ie

Ordnance Survey Ireland

Oireachtas@osi.ie

Property Registration Authority

reps@prai.ie

Pyrite Resolution Board

oireachtasinfo@pyriteboard.ie

Residential Tenancies Board

OireachtasMembersQueries@rtb.ie

Valuation Office

oireachtas.enquiries@VALOFF.ie

Land Development Agency

oireachtas@lda.ie

Office of the Planning Regulator

oireachtas@opr.ie

Home Loan Scheme

Questions (859, 861)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

859. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the amount drawn down under the Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme to date; the number of applicants who have drawn down loans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29994/19]

View answer

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

861. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of applications for the Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme; the number accepted, the number drawn down, the number refused and the number for which additional information was requested by local authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29996/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 859 and 861 together.

My Department does not collect information on the number of Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan (RIHL) applications received by Local Authorities or the number of applications in respect of which additional information may have been requested. 

However, the Housing Agency provides a central support service, which assesses RIHL applications on behalf of local authorities and makes recommendations to the authorities to approve or decline applications. I have asked the Agency to compile figures on the numbers of applications that it has assessed since the scheme began. The most recent figures, as at the end of June 2019, indicate that 4,427 applications have been assessed by it since the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan scheme launched in February 2018, of which 2,256 were recommended for approval and 2,171 recommended for decline.

In addition to this, my Department publishes information on the overall number and value of (i) local authority loan approvals and (ii) local authority loan drawdowns.  Information up to the end of Quarter 1 2019, including in relation to the number and value of mortgage drawdowns, is available on the Department's website at the following link:

http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/statistics/house-prices-loans-and-profile-borrowers/local-authority-loan-activity.

Home Loan Scheme

Question No. 861 answered with Question No. 859.

Questions (860)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

860. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the review of the future funding of the Rebuilding Ireland home loan; when a statement will be issued on the future funding of the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29995/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

When the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan (RIHL) scheme was initially being developed, it was estimated that the drawdown of loans would be approximately €200 million over three years. The RIHL has proven to be more successful than initially anticipated, with some €140 million drawn down to the end of March 2019. The first tranche of funding has not been exhausted.

My officials have been engaging with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform since October 2018 when higher lending and drawdown volumes were beginning to materialise. I informed the Dáil on 29 January 2019 of the scheme’s success and of the need for additional funding and indicated that my Department was in discussions with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of Finance with regard to the allocation for 2019.

At all times, the scheme remained open and all local authorities were advised to continue to receive and process applications up to and including the issuing of loans.

My Department has consulted in detail with each Local Authority as to the anticipated demand in its area, and the likely level of approvals expected. This information has been submitted to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform with request for sanction for additional borrowing by the Housing Finance Agency. The HFA have an ongoing borrowing facility for when sanction is given so that they are in a position to proceed to borrow this second tranche of funding immediately.

The first tranche of funding has not been exhausted, the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan remains open to new applicants, and local authorities are to continue to receive and process applications and issue loans.

Question No. 861 answered with Question No. 859.

Social and Affordable Housing Data

Questions (862)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

862. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the affordable housing scheme; the number of units approved to date; the amount spent under the scheme; the estimated date of completion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29997/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Part 5 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 was commenced in June 2018 to provide a statutory basis for the delivery of affordable housing for purchase.

I signed regulations in respect of the making of Schemes of Priority on 12 March 2019 and these were issued to local authorities on 22 March 2019.  The purpose of a Scheme of Priority is to set out the affordable purchase arrangements at local authority level.  This includes the methodology that will be applied to determine the order of priority to be accorded to eligible households where the demand for such affordable dwellings exceeds the number available.  All 31 local authorities have submitted draft Schemes of Priority to my Department and, to date, I have approved 16, which were adopted by their respective Councils. My Department is currently following up with the remaining local authorities to ensure that the remaining Schemes of Priority are finalised.

Further regulations are currently in development, specifically in relation to the assessment of eligibility of households for affordable housing and any income limits to be set. Once these regulations have been made, associated guidance will issue to local authorities.

To support the delivery of affordable homes to buy or rent the Government has committed €310 million under the Serviced Sites Fund (SSF), from 2019 to 2021 to provide infrastructure support for the delivery of over 6,000 dwellings.  The first call for proposals under the SSF in June 2018 was specifically targeted at 11 local authorities, where the greatest affordability pressures exists.  In December 2018, approval in principle was announced for funding for 10 infrastructure projects, in Dublin and Cork, with an allocated budget of €43 million. This will support the delivery of approximately 1,400 affordable homes. 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.

After this first call, local authorities were asked to complete further financial/economic assessments of each of their areas to assess whether provision of affordable homes is economically viable. A second call for proposals under the SSF issued on 9 April 2019 to 19 local authorities, based on the aforementioned economic assessments submitted. 31 responses were received from 15 local authorities under this call and, following the completion of the assessments of these,  I intend to issue approvals in the coming weeks.

The SSF will also play an important role in making cost rental projects as affordable as possible. My Department is developing a national policy approach to Cost Rental. This is being informed by the learning from two pilot cost rental projects, one of which, at Enniskerry Road in Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown, is just commencing construction, with first homes anticipated to come on stream from 2021, with a second, at the former St. Michael's Estate in Inchicore, at an earlier stage.

My Department is also engaging with the Land Development Agency (LDA), which is examining the potential to deliver Cost Rental homes at scale from its land portfolio and the broader State land bank. The initial portfolio of sites that the Agency has access to will have the potential, over the short to medium term, to deliver 3,000 affordable homes in line with the Government policy of achieving 30% affordable housing on State lands generally.

There is also capacity to deliver up to 2,350 further affordable homes on mainly publicly owned lands supported through the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF).  An additional c. 5,600 homes will benefit from a LIHAF-related cost reduction, some of which are already coming to market. Details of these LIHAF schemes and their locations are available on the Rebuilding Ireland website at

http://rebuildingireland.ie/lihaf/.

These schemes will complement other key Government affordability initiatives, such as the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan, and the Help to Buy Scheme, which have supported some 13,000 households.

Local Authority Members' Remuneration

Questions (863)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

863. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the final report on the independent review of the role and remuneration of local authority elected members will be published. [29998/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

As a result of feedback from local authority elected members and their representative bodies regarding their current remuneration regime, my colleague, the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, and I agreed to the appointment in June 2018 of Ms Sara Moorhead SC to carry out a review of the role and remuneration of local authority elected members.

Ms Moorhead submitted an Interim Report to me at the end of November 2018, which is publicly available on my Department's website at the following link:

https://www.housing.gov.ie/search/archived/current?query=Independent%20review%20of%20the%20role%20and%20remuneration%20of%20local%20authority%20elected%20members.

 In conducting the review, Ms Moorhead decided it was necessary to survey all local authority elected members and to seek financial information from all local authorities. In both cases, deadline extensions were granted to allow sufficient time for comprehensive responses to be made. 

The drafting of the Final Report is at a very advanced stage and I expect to receive it shortly. Following the necessary consultation with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, I intend that the Review will be submitted to Government and published thereafter.

Social and Affordable Housing Data

Questions (864)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

864. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of rapid build units delivered in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30001/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Statistical information in relation to social housing delivery across all delivery streams, including rapid delivery, is published on my Department's website at the following link:

https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/social-and-affordble/overall-social-housing-provision.

At the end of 2018, 423 homes had been delivered under the rapid delivery programme, which includes 22 in 2016, 186 in 2017 and 215 in 2018. Since the programme's inception, some 40 projects have been added to the pipeline and will deliver over 1,100 homes out to 2021. While no new units have been delivered under this programme in Q1 2019, some 225 units are expected to be delivered this year. 

My Department is working closely with all local authorities in relation to increasing and accelerating the delivery of a range of social housing programmes and supports including rapid build methodologies. My Department is also working specifically with Dublin City Council on the establishment of a Design Build Contractor Framework to deliver residential developments through the use of volumetric construction methods.  This framework will shortly be available to all local authorities and will open up additional opportunities to deliver volumetric/rapid delivery apartments for social housing use.

Repair and Leasing Scheme

Questions (865)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

865. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the homes brought into use under the repair and leasing scheme; the number of applications and overall expenditure with regard to same by year and by local authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30002/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Provisional data for the Repair and Leasing Scheme (RLS) indicate that up to end Q1 2019, a total of 1,335 applications for the scheme had been received; 102 homes had been brought back into use and tenanted and 138 agreements to lease had been signed. Delivery under RLS is reported as part of Social Housing Leasing output and these figures are available on my Department’s website at the following link ( a detailed breakdown for RLS will be published shortly):

http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/social-and-affordble/overall-social-housing-provision.

RLS has both capital and current funding streams. The capital element funds the repairs to the property; the current element funds the lease payment to the property owner with the cost of the repairs being recovered from the property owner by offsetting it against the lease payment - annual payments include the ongoing cost of lease payments and costs of new properties brought into the scheme over the course of the year. A breakdown of the dwellings delivered under the scheme to end Q1 2019, by year and local authority, is set out in Table 1. Tables 2 and 3 set out the capital and current expenditure under the scheme in 2017 and 2018, by local authority.

Table 1: RLS Delivery 2017 to Q1 2019

Local Authority

Dwellings Delivered - 2017

Dwellings Delivered - 2018

Dwellings Delivered - Q1 2019

Carlow County Council

0

2

0

Cork County Council

0

0

1

Dublin City Council

0

1

0

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council

1

0

0

Fingal County Council

0

7

9

Kilkenny County Council

0

1

0

Limerick City & County Council

0

8

2

Longford County Council

0

6

0

Meath County Council

0

1

0

Monaghan County Council

0

4

0

Roscommon County Council

0

2

0

Tipperary County Council

0

1

0

Waterford City & County Council

6

35

1

Westmeath County Council

0

1

0

Wexford County Council

2

11

0

Total

9

80

13

Table 2: RLS Capital Spend 2017 and 2018

Local Authority

Spend - 2017

Spend - 2018

Carlow County Council

€0

€67,983

Dublin City Council

€0

€39,044

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council

€4,987

€0

Kilkenny County Council

€0

€24,000

Limerick City & County Council

€0

€207,174

Meath County Council

€0

€8,698

Monaghan County Council

€0

€25,000

Roscommon County Council

€0

€27,222

Tipperary County Council

€0

€33,789

Waterford City & County Council

€191,398

€1,106,739

Westmeath County Council

€0

€35,000

Wexford County Council

€0

€38,458

Total

€196,385

€1,613,107

Table 3: RLS Current Spend 2017 and 2018

Local Authority

Spend - 2017

Spend - 2018

Carlow County Council

€0

€2,270

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council

€8,809

€21,582

Kilkenny County Council

€0

€5,761

Limerick City & County Council

€0

€39,167

Meath County Council

€0

€18,940

Monaghan County Council

€0

€12,174

Offaly County Council

€0

€450

Roscommon County Council

€0

€7,145

Waterford City & County Council

€17,371

€103,150

Westmeath County Council

€0

€2,115

Wexford County Council

€4,009

€67,641

Total

€30,189

€280,395

Housing Data

Questions (866)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

866. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of units to be provided through the enhanced long-term social housing leasing scheme by county to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30003/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

A range of housing options are necessary to ensure a supply of accommodation to meet different types of social housing need. Harnessing the off-balance sheet potential of private investment in social housing is an important objective of the Government and the social housing targets set out in Rebuilding Ireland over the period to 2021 reflect the ambition in that regard.  

My Department has introduced the Enhanced Long Term Social Housing Leasing Scheme in order to target newly built or yet to be built houses and apartments for long term leasing, and to target property developers and investors who are in a position to deliver housing at a reasonable scale in order to supplement delivery under Pillar 2 of Rebuilding Ireland.  

The first call for proposals for the Enhanced Leasing Scheme was open from January to April 2018 and a total of 33 submissions were received.  The second call for proposals closed on 25th October 2018 and a total of 22 submissions were received.

The first Agreement for Lease was signed by Dublin City Council in Q2 2019 for 23 new social housing homes, with expected delivery in 2020.  A number of other proposals are currently in the due diligence or proposal stage. 

My Department and the Housing Agency continue to work with local authorities and proposers in respect of the Enhanced Leasing Scheme, and the leasing schemes generally, in order to ensure maximum delivery of high quality leased properties to meet the needs of households on social housing waiting lists.  To this end, the Enhanced Long-Term Social Housing Leasing Scheme is in full operation and accepting proposals, complementing the range of other delivery mechanisms operated by my Department, and it is expected that further Agreements for Lease will be signed by the end of 2019.

Fire Service Staff

Questions (867)

Paul Kehoe

Question:

867. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of retain firefighters being allowed in employment until 60 years of age if medically approved. [30004/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

A full time firefighter is required to retire at 55 under the Public Service Superannuation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2004. The retirement age is set at 55 due to the physically demanding nature of the firefighter role.  The retirement age for retained firefighters is 55, with provision for an annual extension up to 58 years of age, subject to a formal application process including a compulsory medical assessment.

International research indicates that a retirement age of 55 is the optimum age to ensure that firefighters are capable of satisfactorily performing the tasks expected of them. The retirement age of 55 was introduced because of health and safety considerations related to the job.  Since the enactment of the Health, Safety and Welfare at Work Act 1989, and underpinned by subsequent legislation, every fire authority, as an employer, has a statutory duty to avoid placing employees at risk.

A collective agreement was reached between the Local Government Management Services Board and the relevant trade unions in November 2002. The collective agreement provided, inter alia, for the appointment of an Expert Group which would advise on the retirement age for retained firefighters. The Expert Group's Report on Retirement Age recommended that the retirement age for retained firefighters remain at 55, with provision for an annual extension subject to medical assessment, up to 58 years of age. A circular was subsequently issued by my Department in November 2003 setting out the age requirements in relation to retained firefighters in line with the Expert Report.

In general any changes proposed by either management or trade unions are negotiated using the established industrial relations process. In this regard, the matter of increasing the age of firefighters was included as part  of recent preliminary discussions on a wide range of issues at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), between the Local Government Management Agency (representing the employers) and SIPTU representing firefighters.

Local Authority Housing Applications

Questions (868)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

868. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when a person (details supplied) will have full access to the Cork City Council choice-based letting system and be able to view and bid on houses in their area of preference. [30034/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The day-to-day operation of social housing allocations to eligible applicants, including applications under the Choice Based Letting system (CBL), is a matter for the relevant local authority.

I am advised by Cork City Council that CBL is the primary method of allocation in that area.  I understand that applicants who were previously in areas of Cork County and, who following the boundary change, have transferred into Cork City, have been given user names and passwords to access the City Council’s Choice Based Letting (CBL) system. In addition, the City Council has undertaken to facilitate any new users who require assistance in using the system.

Local authorities are by law (Section 63(1) of the Local Government Act 2001) independent in the performance of their functions. As Minister, I am precluded by Section 6 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 from intervening in relation to the decisions made by local authorities in the provision of social housing support in relation to any individual application whether through CBL or otherwise.

Planning Guidelines

Questions (869)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

869. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the details of each change to planning rules affecting the size of proposed basements in the past three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30038/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

There are no specific provisions or recommendations in planning legislation or guidelines related to the size of basements.

However, the Sustainable Urban Housing: Design Standards for New Apartments Guidelines for Planning Authorities (2018), issued under section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, allow for some internal storage space at basement level. Planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála, as appropriate, are required to have regard to the guidelines in the performance of their functions.

The Guidelines recommend, in section 3.32, that apartment schemes should provide storage for bulky items outside individual units (i.e. at ground or basement level). Secure, ground floor storage space allocated to individual apartments and located close to the entrance to the apartment block or building is particularly useful and planning authorities should encourage the provision of such space in addition to minimum apartment storage requirements. This form of storage may be used for equipment such as, for example, bicycles or bicycle equipment, children’s outdoor toys or buggies. However, such storage does not satisfy bicycle parking requirements.

The Guidelines further recommend, in section 3.33, that where secure, allocated ground or basement level storage is provided, it may be used to satisfy up to half of the minimum storage requirement for individual apartment units, but shall not serve to reduce the minimum floor area required to be provided within each individual apartment unit, as set out in these guidelines. This is intended to enable greater flexibility in apartment design, whereby more living or bedroom space may be provided within the apartment unit in lieu of a portion of required internal storage space where such storage space has been provided elsewhere in the building.

The 2018 Guidelines are available to view on my Department's website at the following link:

https://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/design_standards_for_new_apartments_-_guidelines_for_planning_authorities_2018.pdf

Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme

Questions (870)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

870. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht when a walk (details supplied) will open in Killarney, County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29310/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

My Department has been granted €500,000 under the Outdoor Recreational Infrastructure Scheme in order to improve public access to Tomies Wood, including a new car park.  It is expected that the tender for this work will issue from the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department in the coming weeks.

Plean Teanga

Questions (871)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

871. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cén uair a n-aontófar pleananna teanga do na bailte seirbhíse Gaeltachta atá taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht; an fáth go bhfuil an oiread moille le seo; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas in thatobh. [29336/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

Tugann Acht na Gaeltachta 2012 feidhm reachtúil don phróiseas pleanála teanga faoina mbeidh pleananna teanga á n-ullmhú ag leibhéal an phobail i leith ceantair a bhféadfaí aitheantas a thabhairt dóibh mar Limistéir Pleanála Teanga Ghaeltachta, mar Bhailte Seirbhíse Gaeltachta nó mar Líonraí Gaeilge.

Tá Foras na Gaeilge freagrach faoin Acht as tacaíocht a thabhairt d’eagraíochtaí maidir le hullmhú agus cur i bhfeidhm pleananna teanga sna Bailte Seirbhíse Ghaeltachta atá lonnaithe lasmuigh den Ghaeltacht.

Fearacht an chuid eile den phróiseas a bhaineann leis na Limistéír Pleanála Teanga Ghaeltachta agus na Líonraí Gaeilge go deimhin, is gá a aithint gur ag luas na bpobal ábhartha faoi leith is gá gluaiseacht ós rud é gur ón mbonn aníos agus ón mbarr anuas atá an próiseas.

Ní call a rá go bhfuil cistíocht curtha ar fáil ar bhonn bliantúil don Fhoras ó cuireadh tús leis an bpróiseas chun a chumasú dóibh cabhrú le hullmhú pleananna teanga. Ina theannta sin d'eisgh an Roinn Treoirlínte Pleanála Teanga in 2014 - a bhfuil an t-eagrán is déanaí díobh foilsithe le gairid ag an Roinn, mar áis dóibh siúd a bhfuil baint acu le hullmhú agus le feidhmiú pleananna teanga. Lena chois sin rinne an Roinn i gcomhar leis an CSO agus páirtithe leasmhara eile amharcóir mapa GIS a fhorbairt le go mbeidh teacht níos éasca ar fhaisnéis atá ábhartha don phroiséas lena n-áirítear torthaí Daonáireamh 2011 agus 2016. Tá fail ar an amharcóir mapa ar shuíomh na Roinne.

Chun tuilleadh dlús a chur le rudaí is fiú a lua gur cuireadh ciste bliantúil ar fiú €50,000 ar fáil don Fhoras ag tús na bliana chun go mbeidh sé curtha ar chumas an Fhorais feidhmeannach breise a cheapadh chun cabhrú leis an obair. 

Ón tuairisc is déanaí atá faighte ón bhForas ina leith tá curtha in iúl don Roinn go mbeidh pleanann teanga curtha faoinár mbráid na Roinne chun críche faofa faoin Acht mar atá sonraithe thíos:

- Cathair na Gaillimhe, - fómhar 2019

- Leitir Ceanainn, Co. Dhún na nGall, - Nollaig 2019

- Cathair Chorcaí, - Bealtaine 2020

- Trá Lí, Co. Chiarraí, - Iúil 2020

- Dún Garbhán, Co Phort Láirge - Meán Fomhair 2020 

- Caisleán an Bharraigh, Co. Mhaigh Eo - Nollaig 2020

Ní call a rá go leanfar ag tacú oiread is féidir leis an bhForas chun a gcuid dualgas maidir leis an bpróiseas pleanála teanga a chomhlíonadh.

Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme Payments

Questions (872)

Peter Burke

Question:

872. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if the delay in the processing of a compensation payment for a person (details supplied) will be investigated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29364/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

An application for compensation under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme has been received by my Department from the individual referred to in the Deputy’s Question. With respect to 53 raised bog special areas of conservation sites, the qualifying criteria for the scheme are that:

- The applicant must have had a legal interest (ownership or a turbary right (right to cut turf)) in one of these sites on 25 May 2010 and must have had the right to cut and remove turf from the property on that date;

- The applicant must have been cutting turf on the land in question during the relevant five year period (up to 25 May 2010 in respect of the 29 raised bog special areas of conservation nominated for designation between 1997 and 1999 and up to 31 December 2011 in respect of the 24 raised bog special areas of conservation nominated for designation in 2002);

- The turf resource on the site has not been exhausted; and

- No turf cutting or associated activity is ongoing on the property.

My Department has received the documents referred to by the Deputy and is examining the application, including these documents, in view of the qualifying criteria for the scheme.

Departmental Advertising Expenditure

Questions (873)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

873. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the amount spent on digital marketing in each of the past eight years; the items on which funds were spent; the criteria by which target audiences were selected; the amount of the digital spend targeted here; the amount targeted abroad; the amount that related to private companies; the amount that related to policy initiatives; and the purpose of the digital advertisements. [29388/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

With respect to expenditure on marketing, including digital marketing, between the establishment of the Department on 2nd June 2011 and December 2018, I would refer the Deputy to the answers provided to Dáil Question No 596 of 19th December, 2018 and Dáil Question  No 349 of 11th July 2017.

The Table below summarises expenditure on Digital Marketing by my Department to date in 2019.  This expenditure relates to the Creative Ireland Programme.  A full breakdown of all costs in relation to these activities is published annually on the Department's Creative Ireland website.  

Value for money is a critical consideration at all times in assessing whether external firms should be engaged to provide services of this nature.

Creative Ireland - Spend on Digital Marketing to date in 2019

Digital Marketing

Cost

Content Management (creation and management of website content, content strategy, managing translations, image sourcing, image editing, research and uploading, scheduling and publishing)

€23,216

Digital Copywriting (editing and proofing of text before publishing online)

€28,782

Social Media Content (research, image sourcing and scheduling of social posts)

€35,978

Toghcháin d'Údarás na Gaeltachta

Questions (874)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

874. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Peadar Tóibín den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta an bhfuil sé ar intinn aici toghcháin dhaonlathacha a athbhunú do bhord an Údaráis; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [29411/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

Dírím aird an Teachta ar an bhfreagra a thug mé ar Cheist Dála Uimhir 1,011 ar an 11 Meitheamh 2019 maidir leis an ábhar seo. Mar a thug mé le fios sa bhfreagra sin, faoin socrú a tháinig i bhfeidhm faoin Acht in 2012, tá an bord reatha - a ceapadh anuraidh, comhdhéanta de chúigear comhalta a d'ainmnigh na hÚdaráis Áitiúla ábhartha a bhfuil ceantar Gaeltachta faoina gcúram acu, chomh maith le seachtar comhalta eile a roghnaíodh bunaithe ar chomórtas poiblí a eagraíodh faoi scáth na Seirbhíse um Cheapacháin Phoiblí.

Cinntíonn an córas faoina gceaptar ionadaíocht ó na hÚdaráis Áitiúla go mbíonn bunús daonlathach le bord Údarás na Gaeltachta agus oiread is féidir, cinntíonn ceapacháin na seachtar comhalta a thagann tríd an tSeirbhís um Cheapacháin Phoiblí, go bhfuil daoine cumasacha le saineolas agus scileanna ábhartha, cuí i réimsí gnímh an Údaráis á gceapadh.

Níor mhiste a lua chomh maith gur ionann líon an bhoird mar atá sé anois agus an líon a mholtar, de réir taighde idirnáisiúnta, ar chóir a bheith ar bhord den tsaghas seo.

Táim sásta, dá réir, go bhfuil an cur chuige reatha mar a bhaineann sé le struchtúr an bhoird ag feidhmiú go sásúil agus nach gcuireann sé aon bhac ar chumas an Údaráis feidhmiú mar is cuí.

Ar an mbunús sin, níl i gceist agam aon leasú a mholadh maidir le hAcht na Gaeltachta 2012 i ndáil le toghcháin a athbhunú do bhord Údarás na Gaeltachta.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (875, 876)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

875. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the costs paid to companies (details supplied) for projects each was engaged by her Department in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; the reason each was engaged; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29439/19]

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Catherine Murphy

Question:

876. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the costs paid to a company (details supplied) for projects each was engaged by her Department in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; the reason it was engaged; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29548/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 875 and 876 together.

I am advised that the only payment made by my Department to any of the companies identified by the Deputy during the period in question was one of €13,592 made to Mazars in January, 2019 in respect of an audit conducted on the Aran Life Project.

Maoiniú d'Eagrais Ghaeilge

Questions (877)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

877. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Catherine Connolly den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cén dul chun cinn atá déanta maidir leis an iarratas atá curtha isteach ag Gaillimh le Gaeilge chun tuilleadh acmhainní a fháil; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [29594/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

Cuireann an Roinn Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta maoiniú reatha ar fáil don eagraíocht: Gaillimh le Gaeilge chun tacú lena gcuid gníomhaíochtaí. Is €139,080 atá ceadaithe don eagraíocht i mbliana faoin Scéim Tacaíochta Gaeilge de chuid na Roinne.

Is é Gaillimh le Gaeilge, i gcomhar le Comhairle Cathrach na Gaillimhe, atá freagrach as plean teanga a ullmhú agus a fheidhmiú do Chathair na Gaillimhe faoin bpróiseas pleanála teanga. Táthar ag súil go gcuirfear an plean seo faoi bhráid na Roinne i mí Mheán Fómhair na bliana chun críche faofa faoin bpróiseas pleanála teanga.

Is i gcomhthéacs an allúntais reatha thuasluaite agus an phróisis pleanála teanga a ndéanfar an cheist faoi ghnóthaí airgeadais na heagraíochta don tréimhse atá le teacht  a bhreithniú - tar éis plean a bheith faomhaithe agus soiléireacht níos fearr a bheith ann faoi na himpleachtaí féideartha airgeadais don chiste pleanála teanga trí chéile.

Heritage Projects

Questions (878)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

878. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if funding will be considered for a project (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29764/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

My role, as Minister, with regard to the protection and management of our built and architectural heritage, is set out in the provisions of relevant legislation, as are the roles of local authorities and the responsibilities of owners as regards heritage assets.  

The Historic Towns Initiative (HTI) is a joint undertaking between my Department and the Heritage Council. Capital funding totalling €1,000,000 was awarded to local authorities for six towns in 2019.  The successful towns are Ballina, Boyle, Kilrush, Letterkenny, Navan and Nenagh. Matching funding of at least 20% of total project expenditure is required for each project funded. The relevant local authority has been awarded significant capital funding towards the project referred to by the deputy. Funding for current or operational expenditure is not, however, provided under the scheme.

The best advice for the group would be to contact the local authority directly; both the conservation officer and the heritage officer would be best placed to advise on the various types of additional funding that may be available. Alternatively, the Department of Rural and Community Development may be in a position to assist through some of their programmes including LEADER.

While there are no specific plans at present to revise the HTI, my Department recently engaged in a public consultation process on Heritage Ireland 2030, the Government’s commitment to a revitalised and refreshed National Heritage Plan. Any revision or extension of this particular initiative will be informed by this process.