Thursday, 1 February 2018

Ceisteanna (349)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

349. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he or officials in his Department have played a part or have attempted to interfere, limit or prevent voluntary sector organisations funded by his Department from engaging in advocacy work on behalf of their service users; if he or his officials would seek to or have sought to prevent voluntary sector organisations funded by his Department from being critical of Government policy; his views on an article (details supplied) that uncovered attempts by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive to insert a gagging order into service level agreements with voluntary sector organisations funded by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5278/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

My Department’s role in relation to homelessness involves the provision of a national framework of policy, legislation and funding to underpin the role of housing authorities in addressing homelessness at local level. Statutory responsibility in relation to the provision of accommodation, and related services, for homeless persons rests with individual housing authorities.

Many services are delivered by non-governmental service providers, on behalf of the housing authorities. As part of these contractual arrangements, the housing authorities may put in place service level agreements with the service provider to ensure effective services for homeless people are being provided and monitored through agreed arrangements.

In relation to the Deputy's specific query, service level agreements are a matter between the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive and the service providers, to which they provide substantial tax payer funding. Such agreements are important in order to ensure the best outcomes for those in need of homeless services. I see no conflict between the advocacy role of service providers and ensuring transparency and accuracy in relation to homeless service delivery.

As to my own Department, it is not the role of the Department or my own, as Minister, to interfere, limit or prevent any organisation from advocacy on behalf of their service users, whether funded by my Department or not - nor would I seek to prevent criticism of Government policy, whether it is coming from an NGO or, indeed, a State Agency.