Thursday, 22 October 2015
Order of Business
I will move on. I will let the Acting Leader address the changes the Government is making in a number of ways, including in support of the police by way of recruiting new police officers and providing additional resources for high-tech strategies and so forth.
The funerals of five members of the Connors family are taking place in south Dublin and their bodies will then be moved to Wexford for burial. I am happy to say Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has found a solution to accommodate the remaining family members who were previously located on the site in Carrickmines. As the council has pointed out, the site it has found is by no means ideal. To be honest, it is time there was a new strategy and a new dialogue with the Traveller community on the issue of Traveller accommodation which has been ongoing in this society since the 1960s and on which there have been numerous strategies and reports. We now find ourselves in a position where local residents, in spite of the horrors visited on the Traveller community in the area, cannot find it within themselves and the system to reach an accommodation within a reasonable period of time. As I said, the remaining family members have been forced to reside in a car park.
I welcome the announcement yesterday by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Alan Kelly, of 500 modular housing units to deal with the homelessness crisis in Dublin. It is welcome that 22 of them will be available immediately before Christmas, while a further 28 will be fast-tracked and may even be available before Christmas or shortly thereafter. I genuinely hope we will not meet the same resistance in siting these modular housing units in Dublin that we have met in seeking to accommodate the members of the Traveller community mentioned. There has been a lot of speculation in the media in the past week, including today, as well as certain "guesstimates", about what the Government's strategy will be to ensure rent certainty.Focus Ireland and Dr. Rory Hearne from Tasc have called for the introduction of rent certainty in today's newspapers. One can tinker with the system, have extended notice periods and require landlords to come up with three comparable rents but the bottom line is that if one does not deal with rising rents, then one cannot tackle the issue of homelessness. There is no other solution to this problem but rent certainty.
I again call for a longer and more comprehensive debate on housing and homelessness and that it includes a wider discussion on Traveller accommodation and the need for a wider strategy for same.