Tag Archives: Housing

Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness speaking in the Dáil yesterday

Yesterday evening.

In the Dáil, during a debate about housing…

Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness said if a vote of no confidence in the Government was put forward, he would support it.

It follows Fianna Fáil members abstaining from voting in a motion of no confidence in Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy on Tuesday night.

He also referred to his party’s confidence and supply arrangement with Fine Gael “a farce”.

Mr McGuinness also spoke about Master of the High Court Edmund Honohan who, earlier this year, had debt cases removed from him under a direction by the President of the High Court Peter Kelly.

The Fianna Fáil recalled how he introduced an Affordable Housing and Fair Mortgage Bill in the Dáil, assisted by Mr Honohan, “which went nowhere”.

Mr McGuinness said:

“I have said many times in this House that the first obligation on any Government is to keep its people safe, and this Government has failed miserably to achieve that across many sectors.

“If I wanted to sum up the Government’s attitude and explain it to someone, I would give the example of the Government’s support for the banks when they evict people and for the vulture funds when they treat people badly. The Government turns its back on the people who are affected.

“This Government introduced vulture funds to this country. The citizens of this State, through the Government, own or have an interest in some of the banks.

“If the Government wants to solve part of the housing crisis, it must acknowledge that the policies of the banks are the source of some of the biggest issues that we now face, including homelessness, evictions, repossessions, people being put out of their homes and not having any security.

“In July of this year, one particular bank sold 2,100 loans to a vulture fund, according to its portfolio of sales. Those were people’s homes. They ranged in value up to €250,000, so they were not big, expensive properties. These were homes to which people who hoped to own a home aspired.

“The Government allowed that transaction to take place and left those people in a vulnerable position with no security whatsoever.

AIB is preparing a home loan sale that may result in 6,000 of those types of loans being transferred to a vulture fund. Other banks, aside from the one I have mentioned, will sell on family homes and AIB might be next.

“David Hall, the mortgage debtor advocate, called this situation a tsunami. Many commentators will try to undermine him and others by calling that a ridiculous suggestion, but the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach today discovered, as evidenced in the portfolio of sales of a particular bank in April 2019, that banks are now stockpiling for sale homes and mortgages with which they cannot deal.

“The banks are saving the costs that would have been associated with legal fees, administration and finding a solution to the problems within the bank and will cast the people affected to the discretion of the market and what the vulture funds might do with those houses.

“That is the kernel of the problem for a considerable number of people. The Minister of State and his Government do absolutely nothing about it. The Government gives tax breaks to those funds. In fact, it does not tax them at all.

The Government allows the banks that it owns to do this to its people and will not change direction regardless of who tells it to. All of that is being piled on top of the housing crisis.

“Local authorities simply cannot deal with these issues. I have seen how planning applications and suggestions from local authorities are treated by the Department.

“It is heavily bureaucratic and some of the loops and hoops through which people have to go to deliver houses in an emergency situation are almost nonsensical. These are not normal times. We are in an emergency.

“That notwithstanding, the Department continues to put people through hoops and put obstacles in the way of the real delivery of houses.

“I agree that there should be a construction programme directed by local authorities with real solutions because they have the information. Local authorities and councillors know their housing lists inside out and do not have to be told anything.

“They are being stopped in the street and asked when a son or daughter will get a house or by a couple hoping to get a house who want to know when their case will be resolved.

“I do not know who the speaker was but the Minister of State said that they were to pay for bed and breakfast accommodation and hotels. The implementation of that as a policy does not work, and it is not the case that councils will do it immediately for people who are in desperate straits. That is simply not right.

“There is a policy that the Minister of State may have set down but it is not being adhered to across each and every county. As a result, we get different approaches to his different policies.

“Deputy Doherty has a Bill before the finance committee because the Minister of State is looking for solutions. It is the No Consent, No Sale Bill 2019. I will support him on that Bill because it was brought forward in the absence of any understanding of any real policy by this Government.

“I introduced the Affordable Housing and Fair Mortgage Bill here, assisted by the Master of the High Court, Ed Honohan, which went nowhere.

“The Government did nothing about it. As a result of ignoring all the Bills before the House that have passed Second Stage and are waiting to be debated in committee, the Government has introduced money messages and further obstacles of bureaucracy. It simply will not listen to anybody.

“Fr Peter McVerry was on a television programme the other night. He has no political interest, but by God did he lay it on the line for the Government and tell it where it is going wrong.

“The courts are dealing with cases where houses are going to be repossessed. That will mean that families will be put on the street.

“I know of a landlord in Dublin who is trying desperately to hold on to his house. There are at least six people living in that house who will be on the street.

“I know a lady and her children in Bray who have been before and humiliated in the courts. She has been dragged by security officers out of the bank as she tried to present her case directly to it.

“She has been threatened by the sheriff in the most appalling of ways. She is trying to hold on to her home for herself and her children and this State stands idly by and allows the thuggery that is involved in removing people from their homes.

“The Government should be ashamed that it has allowed this to happen.

“I point the Minister of State to the Glenbeigh sale where those who are trying to seek legal representation because of the manner in which that sale was conducted cannot get the Abhaile scheme.

“Even some of the schemes Ministers have in place are not able to be accessed by the people who need them most.

The one man who stood in the gap and stopped some of the vultures and the banks behaving the way that they did, which I thought I would never see happen in this country, including thuggery and corruption – one can throw all the names one likes at it – is Ed Honohan.

“He gave everybody who came before him a chance. He held the banks to account and the President of the High Court, with a nod, I am sure, from the Government, took all those cases away from him. That is a shame in itself.

“It is administration that is not right and should not be accepted. I ask the Government to start in the courts with the banks it owns and stop these terrible evictions and repossessions and do something concrete about this issue.

“On the vote of confidence, I agree Fianna Fáil sat on its hands. It did the same with the motion on the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris.

“The fact of the matter is that a Minister is acting at one with the Cabinet. If a Member tables a motion of no confidence in the Government, I will vote for it because that is the way it should be.

I honestly hope that this supply and confidence arrangement, which is a farce and is accommodating all this stuff, comes to an end quickly in the new year so that at least the electorate can have its say.”

Watch the debate back in full here

Transcript via Oireachtas.ie

This afternoon.

Parnell Square, Dublin 2

Miles Kavanagh dressed as Elvis (above) joins a protest against homelessness from Parnell Square to the Dáil.

More as we get it.

Thankyewverymuch.

Sam Boal/Rollingnews

Update:

This afternoon.

The march passes, from top: O’Connell Street (pics 1 and 2) and Grafton Street before arriving at Kildare Street (above).

Sam Boal/Rollingnews

From top: Social Democrats co-leaders Catherine Murphy (left) and Róisín Shortall; Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy

This morning.

Bryan Dobson interviewed Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland ahead of the Social Democrats’ motion of no confidence in him this evening.

The Department of Housing’s homeless figures show there were a total of 9,724 individuals in emergency accommodation in October 2018.

In November 2018, the figure was 9,968; in December 2018, 9,753; in January 2019,  9,987; in February 2019, 10,264; in March 2019, 10,305; in April 2019, 10,378; in May 2019, 10,253; in June 2019, 10,172; in July 2019, 10,275; in August 2019, 10,338; in September 2019, 10,397.

The figures for October 2019 have yet to be released even though they were expected to be last week.

At the beginning of the interview, Mr Murphy called the motion “opportunistic” and “reckless”.

From the interview…

Eoghan Murphy: “We’re talking about a party which never once questioned me on Rebuilding Ireland on the Joint Oireachtas committee, the programme that I’ve been implementing now for the last two and a half years, that never put down one amendment on the residential, the rent reform bill that I brought earlier this year.

“And we know that the majority of people who are coming into emergency accommodation are coming from the private rental sector. I brought through reforms to protect those people. They didn’t put down one amendment and we know as well that Social Democrat candidates and public representatives, including Roisin Shortall who was on earlier, are objecting to housing in their own constituency.”

Bryan Dobson: “Well they have put down this motion and just in relation to what it might mean for the Government. There’s no question of you standing aside, allowing the Government to survive. It would mean the end of the Government, a defeat tonight.”

Murphy: “Bryan this is a stunt from the Social Democrats. Rebuilding Ireland is working to fundamentally increase the supply of housing in a sustainable way and driving a programme and reforming…”

Dobson: “And we’ll come to that. Just in relation to the politics, it will depend then obviously on the votes of Michael Lowry, for example, who as we know, is convicted of tax offences; of Noel Grealish to support you, whose comments recently on immigrants you described as “disgusting” and “potentially dangerous”. Those are the sort of people you need to go through the lobbies to keep you in Government.”

Murphy: “And my own colleagues in Fine Gael. We’re a minority Government, Bryan. And we get the support from different elements, different parties, different individuals in the House on any given vote. Each vote is different and each vote should be taken on its own merits.”

Dobson: “Right. And just…Dara Murphy, you expect him to be there? Your colleague?”

Murphy: “I do.”

Dobson: “The motion is in relation to confidence in you as minister. And you stand presumably on your record, so let’s look a little bit at your record. First in relation to homelessness.

“In June 2017, when you came into office, there were 7,900 people in emergency accommodation. At the end of September [2019], the most recent figures, that figure had risen to 10,397.

“Now that’s your record. Why would that inspire confidence?”

Murphy: “On that particular issue alone and I think we need to separate out housing and increasing the supply of housing and what’s happening in emergency accommodation because it’s more complex. Since I’ve been minister more than 12,000 people have exited homelessness. So while there has been an increase in the number of people in emergency accommodation and no one is happy about that, far many more people have been taken out of housing an security because of the work that we have done.

“Another thing to look at as well, is if you look at the 12 months before Rebuilding Ireland, the increase in the number of children going into emergency accommodation increased by 50 per cent. In the last 12 months, it’s increased by one per cent.

“That huge difference, in terms of the number of people going into emergency accommodation  is because of Rebuilding Ireland, because it is building new home and it’s supporting people in other ways who might be in housing insecurity.”

Dobson:It’s still the case though that there are close-on 3,900 children in emergency accommodation and we know from recent study carried out by the Royal Holloway Hospital in London that that has very significant or can have very significant implications for their development.

“They reported they couldn’t crawl or walk because of lack of space. That they didn’t have the ability to chew because they didn’t have access to the kind of food that they should be getting access to. That’s really a dreadful situation for any children to be in.”

Murphy: “Of course, and if we hadn’t had Rebuilding Ireland in place, if we hadn’t this programme to increase the supply of homes, that number would be much, much higher. But because we are increasing house building, we’re able to prevent more people from going into emergency accommodation so one in two families, only two families that came into homeless services this year, we found a home for one immediately.

“Regrettably another family went into emergency accommodation. But so far this year, 900 families have left emergency accommodation so a huge amount of work is being done to try and protect people in housing and security and if we didn’t have a plan that wouldn’t be happening.

“And the Opposition [inaudible] Rebuilding Ireland but they haven’t presented their own plan to replace it. And they haven’t changed one thing that I had done. We are the minority, we discussed earlier, they could change my plan and they haven’t.”

Dobson: “We also know that 45% of families in emergency accommodation are spending more than a year there. The figure is 15% for those who spend more than two years. So people are trapped in long-term homelessness here.”

Murphy: “So the majority are spending less than a year based on the figure you just gave to me. And that’s the important thing to point out. More than 50% of families in emergency accommodation are there for less than 12 months. It shouldn’t be any period at all but we don’t have the houses built yet. I mean we had a point inside very recently where the construction sector was basically non existent and almost nothing was being built.

“In a short period of time, we’ve had to rebuild the sector, build homes, and it’s at a time of net immigration as well. But the news now, under Rebuilding Ireland, is that the number of homes being built is dramatically increasing and that’s how we fix this problem. If you’re in a family hub, you’re spending an average of six months, and a family hub is the preferred option over a hotel and we’re rolling out family hubs all the time…”

Dobson: “And we’ve been hearing this, we heard it a year ago when you last defended yourself against a no confidence motion. We’ve been hearing it year after year from other previous ministers as well and yet the numbers still continue to rise. The plan, it seems, is not adequate to the challenge.”

Murphy: “The point about the numbers, Bryan, is that things were at risk of exploding. And the NGOs over the summer said that they were worried that the numbers of people in emergency accommodation was going to explode and they acknowledged that that didn’t happen. They’ve essentially remained almost flat for the last year because we have been able to build more homes. We’ve been able to stop the number of people going into emergency accommodation and now help people out.

“But we have to build more homes to get those people out of emergency accommodation and on that point, the CSO does the counting and those numbers don’t lie.”

Later

Murphy:Rebuilding Ireland isn’t four or five years old yet, OK. So what we’re doing is increasing the social housing stock by more than 50,000 homes under Rebuilding Ireland and in the final year of Rebuilding Ireland which is 2021, which isn’t very long away, we’ll house more people in social housing homes than we will through the private rental sector. That’s the turnaround that we’re facing.”

Listen back in full here

Meanwhile…

Meanwhile…

On the letter’s page in this morning’s Irish Times...

I attended court with a young homeless boy who had been charged with theft of a bottle of orange, value €1.

Another homeless man was charged with theft of four bars of chocolate, value €3.

Another homeless man was charged with theft of two packets of Silk Cut cigarettes.

A TD, on his way to, or from, his full-time, very well paid job in Brussels, stops by at Dáil Éireann to sign in, so that he can collect his full €51,600 expenses for his attendance in the Dáil.

Fr Peter McVerry SJ,
Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice,
Gardiner Street,
Dublin 1.

A tale of two cities (Irish Times letters page)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy

This morning/afternoon.

The Social Democrats will  bring a motion of no confidence in the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy to the floor of the Dáil next week.

It comes, according to RTE, amid speculation that Fine Gael TD Dara Murphy is set’ to resign his seat in the Dáil to take up a job in the European Commission’.

Catherine Murphy , co-leader of the Social Democrats, said:

“Our housing situation has gone beyond a crisis and has been an emergency for a long time. This Minister and this Government have abjectly failed Irish families, our communities and our economy in not getting to grips with the chronic lack of housing that is affordable to buy or rent.

“The Minister’s trots out his plan – Rebuilding Ireland – but he can’t even meet the tame targets set in that plan. It is failure upon failure. And the consequences for real people are appalling.”

Roisín Shortall, Ms Murphy’s fellow co-leader, added:

On almost every door in the by-elections, our candidates in Cork North Central, Dublin Mid West and Dublin Fingal hear the same story of an emergency in housing.”

Meanwhile

A spokesperson for Minister Murphy said the motion is an “election stunt” ahead of the by-elections on Friday.

“This is pathetic and the Social Democrats would be better using their time seeking support for a constructive solution rather than a stunt that will not pass,” the spokesperson said.

Social Democrats to table no-confidence motion in Murphy (RTÉ)

Rollingnews

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy (second from right) turning the sod on an upgrade to the Lee Road Water Treatment in Cork City

This afternoon.

Eoin English, in The Irish Examiner, reports that the Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy responded to criticism of the Government’s response to the housing crisis by Fr Peter McVerry.

Mr English reported:

Eoghan Murphy warned that the State can’t just “throw up houses” overnight and must consider how to build communities too.

…“When we build a home today, we want it to last for 100-years,” he said.

“So we have to think, are we building it in the right place, to the right standards and specifications?”

Housing Minister defends the government’s Rebuilding Ireland plan during Cork visit (Eoin English, The Irish Examiner)

Pic: Cork City Council


O’Devaney Gardens site in Dublin 7; letter from Bartra Capital Property Group CEO Michael Flannery to Dublin City Council dated October 31, 2019

Further to a post yesterday about Dublin City Council’s controversial vote on a fresh €7million deal with Bartra Capital for the regeneration of O’Devaney Gardens in Dublin…

Journalist Lois Kapila, in Dublin Inquirer, has written a detailed account of that meeting on Monday night.

In her report, she refers to a letter sent from Bartra Capital Property Group CEO Michael Flannery to Dublin City Council dated October 31, 2019 (pictured above).

Ms Kapila reports:

The big change from last month, when councillors delayed voting and said they’d seek a better deal, and this month, when they voted to back the deal, was the offer of “affordable” rental housing on the site.

The deal on the table last month included 248 social homes, 165 “affordable” homes for sale, and 411 market-rate private homes.

After that, though, Bartra Capital Property CEO Michael Flannery said the company would be willing to enter into an “option arrangement” with the council, or its nominee, which would give the council the right to buy some or all of the 411 private “at the average prices per unit type” set out in Bartra’s final tender.

This could help, for example, the council or an AHB [approved housing body] get another 30 percent of the total units to use as an affordable or cost-rental scheme, the letter says.

To give Bartra certainty, the council and the Department of Housing would need to tell Bartra whether, and to what extent, it wants to exercise that option “within a reasonable timeframe” of signing the development agreement, Flannery’s letter says.

…. Independent Councillor Anthony Flynn said the agreement around the affordable rental was still smoke, mirrors, and promises – with nothing legal yet. “There’s no commitments,” he said. (Bartra’s letter isn’t legally binding.)

…Whether the Department of Housing will agree to help fund the affordable rental or cost-rental homes is unclear. Its press office hasn’t yet responded to queries about that, sent on Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile…

Olivia Kelly, in The Irish Times, also refers to the letter.

In an analysis piece, Ms Kelly reports:

Bartra said it is willing to sell “some or all of the private units” to the council or its nominee.

Well of course. Why wouldn’t it be willing to get these guaranteed sales, particularly when, as it said in a letter to Mr Kenny, it would be at a “price to be determined by the preferred tenderer”.

Bartra said the price would be in line with what it is in its tender documents.

But it is not clear if this relates to the price of affordable homes, which was in the region of €420,000 before State subsidies are applied, or the private costs, which would see prices top €500,000.

Councillors Vote Through Deal to Redevelop O’Devaney Gardens After Fraught Debate (Lois Kapila, Dublin Inquirer)

O’Devaney Gardens gets the go-ahead, but questions remain (Olivia Kelly, The Irish Times)

Yesterday: Passed Under Garda Protection

Fancy building your own socialist prefab panel block while learning about the history of prefabricated construction systems commonly used behind the Iron Curtain?

Look no further.

Plattenbau, Panelák, Wielka Płyta, Panelky, Panelház or Панельки: Prefabricated panel blocks go by different names around the former Eastern Bloc, but no matter where they were built, their goal was always the same: to provide homes for expanding city populations after World War II.

‘Panelki’ by Zupagrafika (€22 + P&P)

thisisnthappiness

Sandymount Strand in Dublin; Green Party MEP Ciaran Cuffe; David Browne, president of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland

Building on Dublin’s Sandymount Strand and the Tolka Estuary could provide enough homes for 150,000 people, the president of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) has said.

David Browne, a director of RKD Architects, said the beach and estuary lands should be reclaimed from the sea for dense, sustainable apartment neighbourhoods, which would provide affordable homes over the next 50 years.

Reclaim Sandymount Strand for apartments, says architect (Olivia Kelly, The Irish Times)

Abercrombie’s new town plan for Dublin (Olivia Kelly, The Irish Times)

Dublin MEP Ciaran Cuffe thinks it could be damaging to the environment.

“I think it’s very controversial,” said Mr Cuffe. “Personally, I don’t think it’s viable. It involves building in the Dublin Bay biosphere which was a Unesco designation a few years ago.”

Green MEP says building homes on reclaimed land in Dublin Bay is not viable (Irish Examiner)

Save Poolbeg

Previously: Derelict Dublin

 

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy

Summary of new report on ‘new dwelling completions’ from the Central Statistics Office; tweet from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

This morning.

New figures from the Central Statistics Office state there were 4,275 “new dwelling completions” in the first quarter of this year.

According to the CSO the figure “is based on the number of domestic dwellings connected by the ESB Network to the electricity supply and may not accord precisely with Local Authority or Eircode Routing Key boundaries”.

Over the same period last year, there were 3,470 such completions.

Meanwhile…

And…

Daft.ie’s report from earlier this week on the first quarter of this year and the rental market stated:

“…the level of supply needed for rents to not change is about 13,000 per quarter, or 1,000 per week. Currently, the Dublin market is getting half that – about 500 per week.

“To close that gap, Dublin needs to build tens of thousands more rental homes. How many depends on how frequently these change tenants.

“Suppose the average tenancy last three years, which is somewhat shorter than is currently the case (and thus lowering the total number of homes needed).

“In that case, Dublin would need build an extra 500 rental homes to come on the market each week for those full three years, to close the gap between the 500 that are coming on and the 500 that are needed.

“That’s almost 80,000 rental homes that Dublin needs to build, as soon as possible.”

Read the CSO report in full here