Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 2 December 2014
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht
Future Plans: Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government
I welcome the money for the voids, although it is relatively small amount. I would like to report to the Minister that, in the case of County Laois, that relatively small amount is all being used and all voids are either under way, renovated and back in use, or almost completed. That money works, but of course more is needed.
The concern I have about the Government strategy is that there is a huge reliance on the private sector. Without rent caps or some kind of rent control, which are common in other European countries, we are going to fuel the private rented sector. This is a genuine concern of mine and not an excuse to have a go at the Minister. This could increase the demand on private rented accommodation. I know we are locked into a situation where immediate solutions have to be provided, but the Government and the Oireachtas need to do something about rent controls. We need to grasp this. I know all the arguments that we cannot impose blanket controls, but there are ways of doing it within the Constitution and so on. If necessary, we should change the Constitution to do it.
We recounted earlier on the death of Jonathan Corrie and the appalling situation. That must never be allowed happen again. I welcome the funding increase, the €53 million, but the four midland counties only get 1.5% of that and there is a growing homelessness problem in Laois and Offaly.