Wednesday, 9 December 2020
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I wish to raise the shocking "Prime Time" programme on overcrowding last week. I raised the issue a number of times in the context of the Residential Tenancies Bill and the budget. Hot-bedding is a phrase I never wanted to hear but I have heard it more than enough times in recent months. Unscrupulous private landlords and people who are subletting are letting rooms with bunk beds in it for up to ten people where one has no chance of social distancing. There is a crisis at the lower end of affordable accommodation.However, we do not have proper robust legislation to deal with the issue of overcrowding. Local authorities have stated that the 1966 Act is not suitable as it is too cumbersome. As such, when local authorities tackle the issue, they use fire safety legislation. A Bill dealing with the issue was introduced by Deputy Cowen and is on Committee Stage but, in the context of a public health pandemic, the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Deputy O'Brien, should introduce a Bill to address overcrowding as a matter of urgency. This is not just part of a housing crisis; it is a public health crisis. Members are aware that some of the infections that broke out in meat plants during the summer were as a result of the fact that the workers were hot bedding. They could not afford a room or even a bed of their own, so they were sharing beds. This is a public health crisis in the context of the current situation.
I also raise the issue of heritage buildings. I welcome that Lord Iveagh yesterday moved to take back the Iveagh Markets in Dublin 8. The Minister, Deputy O'Brien, should come to the House to address how the building will be restored as a market, as well as how it will be made structurally sound in the short term. It has been neglected and allowed to lie derelict by the person who had a long lease on it for the past 20 years. It is very important that serious, considered and immediate State action is taken to protect what is a jewel of a market in the south-west inner city.