General Scheme of the Tailte Éireann Bill 2020: Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage

I welcome back the members as we recommence. The item we are addressing is pre-legislative scrutiny of the Tailte Éireann Bill 2020. To assist us, I welcome, from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Ms Mary Hurley, assistant secretary, and Ms Emma Reeves, principal officer. Members have been circulated with the briefing and opening statement. I will first ask for the Department's opening statement and members will then be invited to address questions. We will probably be okay on time today because a number of members have sent apologies. They cannot attend as they are on other business.

Witnesses attending remotely within the Leinster House complex are protected by absolute privilege in respect of the presentation they make to the committee. This means they have an absolute defence against any defamation action for anything they say at the meeting. However, they are expected not to abuse this privilege and it is my duty, as Chair, to ensure this privilege is not abused. Therefore if their statements are potentially defamatory in relation to an identifiable person or entity they will be directed to discontinue their remarks. It is imperative that they comply with any such direction. I remind members of the constitutional requirement that they must be physically present within the confines of Leinster House in order to participate in public meetings. Members are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against person outside the House or an official either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable.

The opening statement submitted to the committee will be published on the committee website after this meeting. I invite Ms Reeves to make the opening statement.

Ms Emma Reeves

I thank the committee for the invitation to brief it. I am a principal officer in the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and I have responsibility for the project leading to the establishment of Tailte Éireann. I am accompanied by Mary Hurley, assistant secretary

We welcome the opportunity to brief the joint committee on the general scheme of the Tailte Éireann Bill 2020. The Bill provides for the merger of the Valuation Office, Property Registration Authority and Ordnance Survey Ireland, through the establishment of a new organisation to be known as Tailte Éireann. The Valuation Office, Property Registration Authority and Ordnance Survey Ireland together manage a comprehensive set of property and spatial data. Combining all three in Tailte Éireann will optimise the benefits of land information for the continuing economic and social development of Ireland.

Combining all three in Tailte Éireann will optimise the benefits of land information for the continuing economic and social development of Ireland; provide citizens, businesses and policymakers with ease of access to, and use of, location information, including property and title information, property valuation data, maps and aerial imagery; lead, develop and maintain national spatial information infrastructures; and support better land management.

The Government decision of 20 January 2015 approved the drafting of the Tailte Éireann Bill 2014 along the lines of the general scheme attached to the memorandum for Government and proposed by the Department of Justice and Equality. That general scheme included proposals to establish a new body called Tailte Éireann to effectively merge the functions of Ordnance Survey Ireland, the Property Registration Authority and the Commissioner of Valuation; continue the statutory office of the Commissioner of Valuation; establish an office of registrar of deeds and titles combining the separate offices of the Registrar of Deeds and the Registrar of Titles that had existed prior to the establishment of the Property Registration Authority in 2006; establish an office of chief State surveyor to include the current survey and mapping functions of Ordnance Survey Ireland with the functions of the boundary surveyor, which was an office held by the Commissioner for Valuation; and establish Tailte Éireann with a board and chief executive.

In 2015, the Department of Justice and Equality provided a briefing to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality regarding the 2015 general scheme. I have provided the committee with a copy of the opening statement provided by that Department at the time and the supplementary brief dated 27 February 2015, which includes additional information on similar mergers in other jurisdictions.

On 1 January 2018, ministerial orders transferred responsibility for the Valuation Office, the Property Registration Authority and Ordnance Survey Ireland to the then Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government. The general scheme of the Tailte Éireann Bill 2020 intends to establish a fully integrated land, property and spatial information services organisation and includes a number of broad changes to the governance arrangements for Tailte Éireann from those that were proposed in the 2015 general scheme.

Tailte Éireann is to be established as a scheduled office under the Public Service Management Act 1997, with the chief executive as the head of office. The role of the board is strategic and advisory. It will promote high standards of internal control and governance in relation to the provision by Tailte Éireann of its services and advise the Minister, when necessary, in relation to policies of government affecting the functions of Tailte Éireann. As with the original scheme, the 2020 heads of Bill propose the dissolution of Ordnance Survey Ireland and the Property Registration Authority. However, unlike the original general scheme which proposed separate statutory officers to carry out these functions, the revised heads of Bill propose that all functions previously performed by those organisations will become functions of Tailte Éireann.

Whereas the original general scheme proposed the continuation of the Office of the Commissioner of Valuation as a statutory office, the revised scheme proposes that the statutory functions of the Commissioner of Valuation will become functions of Tailte Éireann.

The functions of Tailte Éireann will be the functions previously performed by the Property Registration Authority, Ordnance Survey Ireland and the Commissioner of Valuation. Tailte Éireann will provide a comprehensive and secure property title registration system, an independent rateable valuation system and an authoritative location information and geospatial infrastructure. These are central to the effective management of the property, planning, agriculture, local government, environmental and construction sectors of the State's economy.

A project board was established under the chairmanship of the Department. The project board is comprised of senior departmental officials, officials from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Commissioner of Valuation and the chief executives of the Property Registration Authority and Ordnance Survey Ireland. The purpose of the project board is to oversee the establishment of Tailte Éireann as a fully integrated land, property and spatial information services organisation.

The board is responsible for defining and realising benefits and monitoring risks, quality and timeliness. A number of working groups are now in train to drive forward the merger.

This legislation is largely technical and is primarily designed to establish the merged Tailte Éireann organisation in the most efficient way. Accordingly, there are no significant new policy initiatives contained in it. Rather, in line with similar legislation, the general scheme is focused on the statutory provisions necessary to bring about the merger of the three existing organisations into the new Tailte Éireann organisation, the governance of the new organisation when it is established and the carrying out of its functions into the future.

My colleague and I welcome the opportunity to address any questions the committee may have in relation to the general scheme of the Bill and the establishment of Tailte Éireann.

I thank Ms Reeves. I am glad we were able to hold this session today. I am aware that we have received written requests on two previous occasions to commence pre-legislative scrutiny of this Bill. We had a gap in our timetable, so I am happy to commence it today. It is very timely to bring three agencies together and optimise many of their functions, particularly given that the key priorities in Housing for All include identifying land and land activation, especially in areas of dereliction and vacancy. Anything that can assist us to activate land is helpful.

I invite members to ask questions, beginning with Fianna Fáil.

I will take the second slot.

We will move to Deputy Ó Broin.

I thank the witnesses for the presentation. I apologise in advance for stepping out of the meeting briefly. I have to introduce legislation in the House in the next 15 minutes, but I will come back as quickly as possible.

I thank the witnesses for the detailed briefing documents. There is certainly a kind of a logic to what is being proposed. I have four specific questions. One of the concerns, whenever these mergers happen and we hear talk of efficiency, is that sometimes efficiency does not necessarily mean improving the service but means reducing costs, particularly the cost of staff and overheads. As a consequence of the merger following the passing of this legislation, will the staffing levels remain the same as they are currently across the three agencies? Will they be reduced or increased?

With respect to efficiencies, one of the big problems with the land registry and one of the Property Registration Authority, PRA, functions, is that it can take up to 12 months to get documentation on the land registry updated. It is a very slow and sometimes difficult process, and that was before Covid. Are there plans, as part of this, to improve the efficiency of those front-facing services?

Similar to the issue of staff, I have a question on cost. Achieving efficiencies often means reducing financial costs. In terms of budgets, is there an expectation that the current expenditure, as per the Vote, will remain the same?

I will highlight something I think is odd in the Bill, although I appreciate it is not a function of the Department. It would have made eminent sense to roll a fourth agency, the Property Services Regulatory Authority, PSRA, into this new body. In fact, at an earlier stage I thought that was going to be the plan. I know the PSRA is a slightly different agency, but given that the new body will be the basket for property services and given that the PSRA, in my view, is in the wrong Department, which is one of the reasons it does not do some of the things it should do, was there any discussion with the Department of Justice about the possibility of putting this fourth property-related agency, albeit one that regulates private operators in terms of property services, under Tailte Éireann as well?

Ms Emma Reeves

I might start with the staffing question. There are no plans to reduce the number of staff employed. The combined organisation will have over 900 staff. They will have legal, surveying, data analytical, ICT, project management, valuation, human resources and quality management skills and experience.

Deputy Ó Broin asked about the efficiency of the Land Registry. The Land Registry deals with all applications received. He is right that there has been a delay over the course of 2020 and 2021 but, actually, intake has now returned to the 2019 level and current activity is on its way back up. The number of applications for registration received to date in 2021 exceed the number for 2020 by 14%. All indicators are that future demand-----

I apologise. My question is the length of time it was taking pre Covid to process those applications. Sometimes you would have 12 or 18 months. My question is more this: once we get out of Covid, will there be an attempt to speed up the process and the timeline between application and when the registration is formally logged on the online system?

Ms Emma Reeves

The PRA deals with a large number of applications for registration every year. In 2020, as I said, that intake was about 200,000. All applications will be dealt with as they are received. The PRA is making efforts to reduce the arrears, and, certainly, the Deputy is right that the period after Covid will make that more straightforward.

As for cost, Táilte Éireann will have its own Vote. There are no plans yet for that Vote to be established because the organisation needs to be established before the Vote is ready. That will be next year, and work is under way in preparing for that.

Finally, no, I have not given any consideration to whether the PRSA should have been included in this organisation. We are satisfied that the three organisations included are the right ones.

There were technical issues there with the Fianna Fáil members trying to get a connection. I can bring them in now or move to Fine Gael if they can give me an indication. There are still technical problems there. I will move on to the Fine Gael slot then.

I thank the Department for the opening statement and for providing the information that was given in 2015. I found that really helpful. As one of the newer Deputies, I was not across this issue back then, and it was definitely very interesting to see what it is like in Australia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland and Canada. I definitely found that that was very good context to provide, so I thank the witnesses for that.

One of the goals that is advertised or listed in what this new legislation will bring about is that it will support better land management. I would love to learn a little more about that and how these changes and efficiencies will do that. I wonder whether or not that will be linked into the great work the Land Development Agency, LDA, will be doing from a strategic land management perspective and whether there are any synergies there. The witnesses have probably covered a lot of this already, but I ask them to give us a breakdown of the efficiencies the Department thinks will be realised through this legislation. It is great to hear that the staff levels will remain the same. What efficiencies will we see?

One of the other things I noticed is that the legislation will provide for the establishment of a board. One thing I would be really keen to know is whether or not gender balance would be taken into account when looking at that board. This is a topic on which I have brought forward a Bill to make sure we include both genders at the decision-making table. There are a lot of targets from Balance for Better Business on State and semi-State boards, but it would be great just to get confirmation and a little comfort that gender balance will be taken into account when the board is established.

Ms Emma Reeves

The benefits of the merger include a number of areas, one of which is efficiencies. As a fully integrated single entity, Táilte Éireann will be able to streamline its existing services and administrative and management functions into one entity, that is, one body with a single voted expenditure, one chief executive and one board.

The merger will also provide for a shared culture and ethos in one organisation, rather than in three separate organisations with divergent priorities and goals. In terms of optimising the land and property information, Ordnance Survey Ireland, OSI, the PRA and the Valuation Office, VO, together manage the most comprehensive set of property and spatial data in Ireland. Combining all three will allow us to optimise those benefits for the continuing economic and social development. Tailte Éireann will be a data driven organisation in order that it is best placed to influence the future development of geospatial initiatives within the public sector data strategy.

The Deputy asked about efficiencies in savings. There will be some savings emerging from the fact that there be a single board with fewer members, compared to the current governing boards of OSI and the Property Registration Authority. There will be some savings in the short term. As we look to the future, in the longer term there will be future efficiencies and synergies, perhaps in operational areas, and through the exploitation of the combined data sets.

The board would be appointed through the Public Appointment Service, PAS, and the State boards section. Gender balance is definitely something that will be taken into consideration in all board appointments.

Super. Could Ms Reeves expand on land management?

Ms Mary Hurley

Perhaps I can come in on that. The Deputy raises an excellent point in relation to land management. One service that Tailte Éireann will be able to provide in a more effective way because of the synergies that can arise from the three coming together is the provision of land information to bodies like the Land Development Agency, LDA, gathering information from many of the State landowners such as the Office of Public Works, OPW, around the country. Huge work has been done in this area to date. However, this will enable further mapping, further data management and further synergies to be arrived at. There will be quite a lot of engagement. The proposal is that there will be significant engagement with the LDA, which obviously has a big role in Housing For All on the delivery of social, affordable and private housing over the over future years. The Deputy asks an excellent question. I believe that this entity will support further the work that has been done in terms of land management, mapping and the future delivery of housing.

That is really encouraging to hear and I thank Ms Hurley and Ms Reeves for their answers.

I am going to move next to the Green Party slot. I call Deputy Duffy.

For the record I am on campus. I have a number of questions. This has been discussed a bit already and as we know, the LDA will be co-ordinating the mapping of State lands for the purpose of housing delivery. What role, if any, will Tailte Éireann have in assisting with the LDA's State land database? The Ordnance Survey Ireland and Land Registry mapping systems are available online. Both of them are useful resources and are available to the public, professionals, and students. I use them myself quite a bit. Will these services be maintained? What consideration has the Department given to increasing public awareness of the new State body itself? Will the LDA’s current online mapping of State lands be folded into the database or will any of the CSO data like AIRO? Because the regulatory impact assessment states that the merger might have an effect on the consumer base, how long will it take the merger to be completed? Finally, where will the body be located? Ordnance Survey Ireland is located in the Phoenix Park. Will there be offices nationwide?

Ms Mary Hurley

I will comment on the matters relating to land for Deputy Duffy and Ms Reeves might then contribute with some details on where the body will be located.

In the context of land, one of the things that Tailte Éireann will do relates to the data on the property, the land registration and the folios, the data it will be preparing and the systems it will have. Tailte Éireann will provide that data to support the LDA in doing its work. The LDA will still hold its land mapping function but Tailte Éireann will hold and continue to develop the information and the data sets that will support the LDA to do its work. One of the things that we are quite conscious of in our engagement with the entities is that there is a joined-up approach across the State sector so that all of the bodies are working together. To be very clear about what Tailte Éireann will do, this body is about the integrity and gathering of the data and the registration. To a certain extent, the work that Tailte Éireann will do - and which the three entities do at the moment - will be to provide data which underpins the strategy and the delivery across the board.

The Deputy raised a very good point about what the bodies are doing and whether those services will be maintained. The answer to that is an absolute “Yes”, and there will be additional services. By joining up and creating an atmosphere whereby that data-sharing can take place, it will be able to provide work to enhance services.

The other piece relates to promoting the work of the new entity. Again, this is a very exciting opportunity for us to let the public know about the services that are being offered. Obviously, we know that the matter of property relates to every home in Ireland and is of interest to Irish people.

Ms Reeves referred to the project board that is in place. This board comprises all of the heads of bodies, including the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and our Department. The board is addressing these types of issues in terms of communications, what the organisation might look like, how it can be effective and the streamlining of ICT and data systems. That is one of the pieces of work that is under way with the board, which is getting ready for when established day hopefully happens. I may have missed some items. I will pass now to Ms Reeves.

Ms Emma Reeves

I will pick up on the question as to where Tailte Éireann will be located. As I mentioned before, there will be more than 900 staff in this new organisation. These people are located in various places throughout the country. The Dublin office, or head office, of Tailte Éireann will be located in the Distillers Building in Smithfield. The building is under construction. That is where the headquarters will be as soon as it is ready for occupation.

In the context of Ordnance Survey Ireland's property in the Phoenix Park, will that remain part of the campus or one of the buildings?

Ms Emma Reeves

At the moment, we expect that a number of the staff will remain on the Phoenix Park site. Ordnance Survey Ireland has an historic manuscripts store there. The work process to scan and digitise the historic paper maps and the legacy aerial imagery is continuing.

I thank the witnesses very much.

I will bring Deputy Flaherty in next.

Given my technical difficulties, the committee probably thinks that my contribution will be earth-shattering, particularly as I have made three desperate attempts to contribute. Hopefully, I will live up to the committee’s expectations.

My question is technical in nature. I have been contacted by a constituent who is in an unusual position in that he works with Ordnance Survey Ireland but is not technically an Irish citizen. He moved from level 4 to level 5 and there was an initial stall on this because he was not an Irish citizen but the Department of Justice resolved that. He has been advised that he would need to be an Irish citizen for this new role and he is or was not eligible to apply for citizenship until 25 May of this year, which he has now done. Obviously, the merger looks to be on track to take place on 1 January 2022. There is some concern that perhaps the issue with his citizenship will not be resolved at that stage.

It would be unfortunate for him if he was to miss out. I will follow up separately in an email to Ms Hurley and Ms Reeves with the details of this gentleman. He is very passionate about the work he does. They will be delighted to hear that he is excited about the new plans and is looking forward to contributing to them. More important, he and his family are very proudly settled in Longford so I am anxious to ensure he does not miss out on what will hopefully be an exciting new journey for this organisation. I will email the details to Ms Hurley and Ms Reeves and would appreciate it if they could look into it for me.

I will leave it to the Deputy to correspond with Ms Hurley or Ms Reeves on that issue.

I thank the witnesses for their opening statements. Other members have referred to the importance of active land management in terms of delivering housing that is affordable and ensuring there is a pipeline of land for housing that is affordable and within reach of people. Will Tailte Éireann have the ability to have a land price register so there is transparency around what price land is bought and sold for? Costs are a key challenge for us in terms of housing and housing construction and there is no transparency around land costs for development. We know how much people laying bricks, plastering and engaging in carpentry are getting paid; how much the materials cost; and how much the homes are being sold for but we do not know what price the land is being exchanged for. Because of that, we cannot see a full breakdown of costs and where the costs are coming from. It is worth noting that we have some of the highest home costs in Europe yet our material costs and labour costs are not higher than those of comparable European countries. Will there be efforts to include a land price register as part of this? What are the witnesses' thoughts on that?

Ms Emma Reeves

The property price register is not something Tailte Éireann will have the information to provide. The Property Registration Authority has details of ownership and the folios. That does not include the price paid for the land at a particular point in time so that will not be something that Tailte will be able to provide.

To be clear, if the Property Registration Authority was included or incorporated at a later stage, that would assist the possibility of having a land price register if that is what the intention was - if the Government or Oireachtas wanted to do that.

Ms Emma Reeves

The Government decision at the moment relates to the Property Registration Authority, the Valuation Office and OSI. It does not include any other entities and neither did it envisage any other functions, although the general scheme does allow that if it was decided at a later point that additional functions should be added, that could be done.

I have listened to most of this but it is always possible that I missed something at the beginning so if I repeat something, just tell me and I will accept the slap. There is an issue relating to carrying out the plans around Tailte Éireann. Will they speed up the valuation process? We are talking about local authorities possibly losing significant amounts in rates due to delays in the valuation of commercial buildings.

Many of us, particularly those of us who were councillors, are aware of the difficulties local authorities have with funding. This is something that would need to be addressed. I imagine the Department will get an element of streamlining with organisation. I am speaking about major operators, major retailers and serious commercial entities rather than the difficulties that many small businesses have at this point. Will there be a streamlining of the valuation process? I imagine there will be in the sense of the sharing of information. The Department will not be recreating the wheel consistently and constantly, which is probably a difficulty that has led to this decision.

Ms Emma Reeves

The revision programme, which the Valuation Office manages, is well under way. The 2022 budget meetings for local authorities are expected to take place during November. The local authorities consider the valuation list for rateable properties in their rating authority areas when they are setting the annual rate of valuation for the following year. The Valuation Office expects to add approximately 3,000 new or revised valuations to valuation lists in the lead up to these meetings. Valuation certificates have issued recently in this regard and will continue to issue until the budget meeting.

In terms of what difference there will be in the new organisation, we have to remember the functions of the Valuation Office, the Property Registration Authority and Ordnance Survey Ireland in many respects will remain individual. The Valuation Office does need to continue to provide rateable valuations and it will continue to do this. There are, of course, areas of overlap and these are the areas where synergies may emerge.

On some level, the Department does see that they will all still have responsibilities. The Valuation Office is responsible for valuation, and I get that. Does the Department see there would be streamlining and a speeding up of the process? I imagine there would be.

Ms Emma Reeves

I hope so. It will be a data-driven organisation. All three organisations are highly data heavy. The data management is the real focus of where the synergies will emerge.

Will this organisation be subject to freedom of information legislation? Obviously this is a very relevant issue at this point.

Ms Emma Reeves

It will be a scheduled office under the Public Service Management Act. It is a Civil Service organisation. All of the usual governance and oversight will be in place.

This is vital because from time to time many organisations and campaigners have difficulty accessing information. Given all that will be involved in these three organisations together it is vital the new entity would fall under the freedom of information legislation. That is good to know. How long does Ms Reeves reckon the entire process will take? What is the timeline?

Ms Emma Reeves

The first step is the legislation. Once the legislation has been passed, we will continue work with the project board. The project board has been in existence for some time. Working groups have been established to progress the various strands of combining the three organisations. Some are very time critical in terms of the merger and we are working on them. The legislation has to come first.

I assume the powers the bodies have at this point in time will not be lost when the new outfit is created. With regard to staffing, does the Department expect any major changes?

Ms Emma Reeves

Not in the immediate term.

We have covered that one and we were told there will be no change to the staffing levels. Senator Cummins's technical issues are resolved. I invite him to go ahead.

Logging off and logging back on did the trick. I thank the witnesses. This proposed Bill is a technical measure, as has been mentioned, but it will have the important role of facilitating the amalgamation of the three bodies.

I will follow up on Deputy Ó Murchú's point on the Valuation Office because it pertains to the local authority sector in particular. Councillors around the country often express frustration with delays in valuing new commercial premises and new buildings. Thankfully, we have many such premises in the country now arising from massive inward investment, particularly from the multinational sector. However, local authorities do not get the benefit of that in terms of commercial rates until maybe two years after completion of the commercial premises because of the lead-in times involved. If a building is finished at a certain point in the year, it cannot be valued and included in the rates system until the following year. It is important to be able to capture that value as early as possible. Delays frustrate local authorities at times.

Will staff be able to move between the three constituent organisations? Obviously, that will be subject to them having certain skill sets and also to industrial relations issues. We have heard there will be three entities under one umbrella, so to speak. Will that allow for the movement of staff or the redeployment of resources to areas where there is a significant workload at a point in the year? Will that flexibility be built in when the new agency is established?

Ms Emma Reeves

The Valuation Office is a body that has been in operation for a long number of years and its operations are well-rehearsed at this stage. Valuations are done by valuers and there will be a requirement that that continue. There is a limit to how people could be moved from one area of work to another. Valuation would need to remain the work of valuers. The revision programme is up and running and is working well. The valuations are being delivered on an ongoing basis. As I said, they will be issued, certainly for this year, right up until the local authority budget meeting date.

I appreciate that. Of course valuations have to be done by valuers, but there is significant administration work involved, in addition to the valuations, in getting all the information uploaded to the system. In the run-up to budget time in a local authority, will it be possible to deploy additional resources to maximise the data that can be inputted and ensure local authorities are not at a loss in respect of rates for a further 12 months?

Ms Emma Reeves

Such operational matters will be questions for the chief executive managing the resources across the organisation. That is something that happens in large organisations and it should be possible.

While I am conscious that I am straying into industrial relations issues, this has an impact on the ground. I am happy with the Bill, which is technical in nature. I believe having the three entities in one organisation will be a success. The ability to redeploy resources where they are needed at points in time throughout the year is an issue that should be raised with the new organisation. I would appreciate if it was.

Ms Emma Reeves

Of course.

I thank Senator Cummins. As all members have asked questions, I will put some questions. It makes sense to bring the three organisations in question together like this.

Combining the land identification and mapping skills of Ordnance Survey Ireland with the building identification skills and knowledge that exist within the Property Registration Authority and the Valuation Office makes a great amount of sense as regards efficiencies. An issue I have often come across is that it can sometimes be difficult to identify the owner of a building, even for simple requests regarding dereliction or other issues. You can end up going around in circles trying to find the owner of land or a building. If this leads to efficiencies, it is to be welcomed.

I have a question regarding the location in Smithfield where the three agencies are to be brought together. I know 900 members of staff are involved so they probably will not all be in there. That in itself will bring efficiencies. We have been back in Leinster House in recent days and weeks and people meeting one another in person rather than meeting online or being in separate buildings or locations also brings about efficiencies. The three organisations, in some shape or form, will be located in Smithfield.

On the make-up of the board, head 10 says that six ordinary members will be appointed by the Minister. Is it expected that those appointments would require some kind of experience or expertise in the area of land identification or property registration or valuation?

Ms Emma Reeves

The location of all three of those organisations in Dublin will be the Distillers Building in Smithfield. At the moment, they are all in individual locations, namely, Chancery Street, the Irish Life Mall and the Phoenix Park. It will be helpful to have all three in the one location. Regarding the skills of the board members, as the board is strategic and advisory in nature, we will be looking for a broad range of skills that will assist the chair in fulfilling the role asked of him or her.

We are trying to assist local authorities in respect of compulsory purchase orders, CPOs, where they may be necessary or advantageous. Will that be a designated role of the new body? We really want to identify areas in our town centres and urban centres where contact with the owners to discuss options regarding planning, change of use or funding that may be available could allow us to reactivate properties to create town centre living that would allow us to make the most of the 15-minute city concept. Will there be an opportunity or a direct line for local authorities, particularly the officers who deal with dereliction and vacancy, to allow them to liaise directly with this new agency? Will that be prioritised? Would it be seen to be beneficial?

Ms Emma Reeves

The Property Registration Authority has a State property unit that works on big projects with Departments and bodies across the State so that facility already exists. The Valuation Office also has a role in the valuing of State property. Both of those will be available in Tailte Éireann.

I thank Ms Reeves. That is helpful. That is the end of the questioning from the members as far as I can see. I do not see any other hands up. I thank Ms Reeves and Ms Hurley for their attendance here today. It has been very helpful for us in our deliberations. We will now proceed to write up a pre-legislative scrutiny report in which we will take the information the witnesses have given us and the answers they have given to members' queries into account. We will then adopt that report and send it on to them so that the Bill can go forward for publishing. I thank the members and Ms Reeves and Ms Hurley from the Department.

The joint committee adjourned at 1.24 p.m. until 11 a.m. on Thursday, 23 September 2021.