Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 17 November 2022
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government
Planning and Development Regulations: Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage
Thomas Gould (Cork North Central, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source
I want to put on the record how grateful I am, as I am sure are the Government, all Deputies and Senators and the various officials, for the generosity of the Irish people. They have opened their arms, doors, community centres and GAA clubs to people coming here. At the start of the war, there was a fabulous opening of arms as Irish people stepped up to respond. That is still there. People are still engaging with new arrivals. It is something we should be very proud of but we should not be surprised by it. The Irish people have always been known for our generosity and welcome.
It is important when people are being so generous and welcoming that the Government communicates and engages properly with them. There must be communication about what plans are coming forward, and we must ensure the services and supports are there for both local communities and refugees. That can only be done as a team effort. We are all in this together and we must work together. If that happens, we will get the buy-in. People are looking for openness and transparency.
I acknowledge these regulations are to deal with a planning issue and there is a deadline of 31 December 2024. I echo the point made by other speakers about the need for a whole-of-government approach involving the Departments of Education, Health and Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. In addition, the role of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage is key. Everybody must work together to come up with solutions. At this stage of the game, it is all about finding solutions. This has been a positive meeting. There is a lot of work to be done. We will be as constructive as we can be to that end.