I propose to take Questions Nos. 225 to 229, inclusive, together.
Married quarters for members of the Defence Forces have for sometime been considered an anachronism and it is the policy of the Department to discontinue them in a managed and orderly manner save in exceptional circumstances. The provision of housing is primarily a matter for the local authorities and married military personnel have an equal claim on such housing as other members of the community in the same income category.
For the past number of years it has been the practice to only carry out emergency repairs to married quarters and this policy will continue in the future. The military authorities estimate that about €100,000 was expended over the past five years in carrying out such repairs. Rents for married quarters are considerably less than the market value rental valuation for the properties and in this regard negotiations with the Representative Association on an increase in charges are currently at an advanced stage. However, any revised rates that might be agreed will reflect the present condition of the quarters and those rates would have to be adjusted to reflect any future investment in married quarters.
Inspections of married quarters are carried out by the military authorities from time to time and in this regard I am advised that no complaints regarding structural problems have been received from any occupant of married quarters. It is the policy of the military authorities not to re-allocate quarters which are considered sub-standard.
With regard to overholding of married quarters the position is that my Department is continuing to examine all options, including affordable housing and voluntary and co-operative housing schemes, in relation to the re-housing of those overholders who, in the normal way, would be eligible for local authority housing.