Seanad debates

Wednesday, 28 February 2024

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:30 am

Photo of Victor BoyhanVictor Boyhan (Independent) | Oireachtas source

I wish to raise two issues this morning. One relates to strategic housing developments, SHDs, introduced in 2017 to deliver houses. Yesterday, I received from An Bord Pleanála a full schedule of all the properties and developments that are stuck in An Bord Pleanála or have not been processed, many of which date back to 2022. They are in Dublin, predominantly near the Minister's homeland of north County Dublin, which is an interesting observation. There is a large development in Bishopstown, County Cork and ones in Meath, Wicklow, Wexford and other places. This amounts to 22,000 homes being stuck in an SHD system that has been scrapped. The previous Government told us it would be the panacea for all our problems. Now we have a situation where SHDs, introduced in 2017 and subsequently abolished, include many homes. We need to focus on them. I have an opportunity through the housing committee of which I am a member. It is a serious indictment of all the people involved. It has an impact on our housing delivery, economy, construction jobs and investment. This is a crisis. While we have a national housing crisis, we have 22,000 homes sitting on the drawing boards in An Bord Pleanála when we have been reassured that there are additional resources and a new chair. I will leave it there, but we should exercise ourselves on it.

Before I came to the Chamber this morning, I received two phone calls, one from an employee of St. John of God in St. Raphael's, Celbridge, County Kildare, and one from a family, a member of which is a member of staff at the St. John of God services in Drumcar, County Louth. The great news conveyed to them is that St. John of God Community Services has withdrawn its notice to exit the services. That is powerful. I thank the Minister of State, Deputy Rabbitte, and the Minister, Deputy O'Gorman, for their ongoing negotiations behind the scenes. The Minister of State, Deputy Rabbitte, was in the House and we debated the matter. It is great news that the board of St. John of God has withdrawn its decision to withdraw from services and will re-engage. However, that any organisation should be charged with responsibility for more than 8,000 service users raises serious issues. We were left vulnerable on this occasion. Some issues may not have been completely resolved. I am not privy to that. It raises the issue of how we care for people in our communities, rather than in institutions.

In the meantime, a crisis has been averted and I convey my sincere thanks to the Minister of State, Deputy Rabbitte, and St. John of God for working together in a constructive way to get this issue resolved.


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