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Need for more Gardaí in Cavan/Monaghan – Brendan Smith TD

Concerns over growth in crime

Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith has again appealed to the Minister for Justice to ensure the assignment of additional Gardaí to the Cavan/Monaghan Garda Division.

Speaking in Dáil Éireann last night Brendan Smith outlined his concerns as follows –

I had the opportunity to meet the Minister and discuss the difficulties in the Cavan-Monaghan Garda division. I highlighted through parliamentary questions in this House and in other debates that, since 2010, our division suffered one of the most severe reductions in gardaí. There was a reduction of 28% in Garda force numbers in County Monaghan and 20% in County Cavan. I appeal to the Minister again to use his good offices to ensure we get a decent allocation when the next recruits are being assigned to various Garda stations. We lost nine Garda stations in the period in question.

The Cavan-Monaghan Garda division has a land border with counties in another jurisdiction, namely, Fermanagh, Tyrone and Armagh. There are additional policing pressures on the Garda because of the land border with another jurisdiction. As the Minister is well aware, policing is very light north of the Border, to put it mildly. There are criminals who regard it as very easy to get out of our jurisdiction and into another. We have a huge problem with rural crime and the targeting of the farming community. I appeal to the Minister to ensure Garda numbers are restored substantially in the Cavan-Monaghan Garda division because crime in both counties is on the increase, unfortunately” stated Brendan Smith TD.

EXTRACT FROM DÁIL DEBATE ATTACHED – Tuesday, 21st November 2017

   Deputy Brendan Smith: I had the opportunity to meet the Minister and discuss the difficulties in the Cavan-Monaghan Garda division. I highlighted through parliamentary questions in this House and in other debates that, since 2010, our division suffered one of the most severe reductions in gardaí. There was a reduction of 28% in Garda force numbers in County Monaghan and 20% in County Cavan. I appeal to the Minister again to use his good offices to ensure we get a decent allocation when the next recruits are being assigned to various Garda stations. We lost nine Garda stations in the period in question.

The Cavan-Monaghan Garda division has a land border with counties in another jurisdiction, namely, Fermanagh, Tyrone and Armagh. There are additional policing pressures on the Garda because of the land border with another jurisdiction. As the Minister is well aware, policing is very light north of the Border, to put it mildly. There are criminals who regard it as very easy to get out of our jurisdiction and into another. We have a huge problem with rural crime and the targeting of the farming community. I appeal to the Minister to ensure Garda numbers are restored substantially in the Cavan-Monaghan Garda division because crime in both counties is on the increase, unfortunately.

 

 

 

 

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Krafty Kids Créche, Ballyconnell

Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil T.D. Brendan Smith has welcomed the upgrading of existing facilities and the provision of additional accommodation at Krafty Kidz Créche in Ballyconnell.

Deputy Brendan Smith told The Anglo-Celt that 20 years ago this Créche/Childcare facility was established and the enrolment has increased considerably over the years.  He complimented the founding members of the Créche and the local community for their support which has contributed to its success.  He also noted that some of the founding members continue to play an active role in it’s management.


“20 years ago we were only at the start of a major extension of childcare facilities throughout the country.  At that time I was glad to support the establishment of this childcare facility, then known as The Den, and over the years I have heard many parents outline the good service that has been provided to so many children in the Ballyconnell area.  


As we all know the provision of childcare is absolutely essential and there is an urgent need for the Government to provide additional funding to ensure adequate support for community and private childcare facilities, and to ensure that the staff are adequately remunerated.  No child should be denied a place in a childcare facility due to family income constraints.  This is an issue that I will continue to highlight with the Minister for Children.


As Minister for Children in 2007-2008 I was very glad to be in a position to sanction major investment in the childcare sector throughout Cavan and Monaghan and those facilities are providing a very important service to preschool children.


I am fully conscious of the excellent commitment of the Manager, Annette Coyle and all her staff and through their work they ensure a good environment, warm welcome and excellent care for the children within Krafty Kidz”, stated Deputy Brendan Smith.

Additional investment essential in childcare sector – Brendan Smith T.D.

______________________________________________

For Written Answer on : 07/11/2017 

Question Number(s): 1098 Question Reference(s): 45844/17 Written 

Department: Children and Youth Affairs 

______________________________________________

QUESTION

* To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her attention has been drawn to issues raised by a local authority (details supplied) in relation to childcare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. Brendan Smith T.D. 

REPLY

It is important that we acknowledge the critical role childcare workers play in delivering high quality childcare services. They deserve to be recognised, valued and respected for this. The Department of Children and Youth Affairs acknowledges that pay and conditions are major issues facing the sector. My Department is exploring how this can be addressed.

The Programme for Government commits to carrying out an independent review of the cost of providing quality childcare. The ‘Independent Review of the Cost of Delivering Quality Childcare’ which will be carried out by Crowe Horwath, will examine the costs faced by childcare providers in delivering quality childcare, including a survey of childcare providers. Following completion the review is intended to be used to strengthen the evidence base underpinning investment in early years. As such, it will feed into future policy development, including in relation to levels of payments to services.

In terms of pay for the Early Years sector, it must be noted that my Department is not the direct employer of childcare workers. However, in terms of improving pay and conditions I have suggested to the sector that they could apply to the Labour Court for a Sectoral Employment Order (SEO), asking the Court to make a recommendation in relation to pay for the whole Early Years sector.

Under a SEO process, organisations substantially representative of employers and employees come together to agree a way forward and submissions are sought from key stakeholders. My Department would not be party to the SEO process, however, as a significant funder, and with policy responsibility for quality, my Department would be well placed to make a submission to the Court once it publishes its notice in relation to the matter of the application for a SEO for the sector. I will be very supportive of any reasonable measures aimed at improving pay and conditions of the Early Years sector. While my Department does not have direct control over the matter, it will continue to support any appropriate initiatives in this area.

In the interim, my Department continues to invest significant resources in the early years sector. In the last three Budgets (2016, 2017 and 2018) investment in Early Years sector has increased by some 87% which reflect the emphasis being placed on developing a quality service with appropriately supported staff. This has helped to address affordability, access and quality, although it is recognised that there is more to be done. The announcement under Budget 2018 to increase ECCE capitation rates by 7% is intended to support the workforce.

The funding provided by my Department has always been intended to be sufficient to cater for all of the costs associated with the childcare schemes funded, including administrative and “non-contact time” work, or to fund this pro-rata where my Department’s contribution is a part of the total cost of care provided. Notwithstanding this, to take account of the additional administrative burden on childcare providers as the result of significant changes to the childcare schemes in 2016-2017, including the expansion of the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme to include three intake points, contractual changes and the coming into force of the Childcare Regulations, some €14.5 million was provided in 2017 to be drawn down as a “non-contact time” payment for providers, equivalent to seven days’ funding. I have also secured an additional once-off payment of up to €3.5 million in December in respect of the Community Childcare Universal Subsidy (CCSU). This will bring the overall total ‘non-contact’ support (or ‘Programme Support Payments’) to €18m in 2017. In Budget 2018 it was announced that €18m in programme support payments will be continued for the the coming year. This funding is also intended to support providers and their employees.

On 11th April 2017 I made an announcement that the Affordable Childcare Scheme (ACS) would not commence this September but that a range of measures would be introduced in September by my Department to make childcare more affordable for thousands of families throughout Ireland. This honours a key commitment in the Programme for Government.

The ‘September measures’ relate to the introduction of the Community Childcare Subvention Universal (CCSU) payment and the increase in band rates across the different strands of the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) Scheme and the Training and Employment Childcare (TEC) Scheme. As part of these ‘September measures’, a universal subsidy is available for all children aged between 6 months and 3 years of age (or until they qualify for ECCE if later than 36 months) in registered childcare. This amounts to up to €20 a week or €1,040 per year for children in full time childcare.

I am keenly aware of the pressures on the sector with regard to availability of places and sustainability and, following on from significant investment in 2016 and 2017, my Department will provide €6.86m for its capital funding programme under Budget 2018.

Although my Department has been successful in securing additional funding for this sector over the past three budgets, as outlined above, it is acknowledged that much more must be done if we are truly to have affordable, accessible, quality childcare and continue to improve both the affordability and quality of childcare. To this end I will continue to engage with Government colleagues with a view to securing additional investment for the Early Years sector in future budgets. Childcare workers are part of a growing sector, which the Government is strongly supporting. My Department and I believe that by working together with all the stakeholders in the Early Years sector we can ensure that it is a viable and strong sector which makes a significant contribution to the care and personal development of our children.

I am committed to ensuring childcare is affordable, accessible and of a high quality.

 

Major changes needed to Tenant Purchase Scheme – Brendan Smith

– Review should be published without delay

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has called on the Housing Minister to expand the eligibility criteria for the Tenant Purchase Scheme.
Deputy Smith cited issues with social welfare recipients being unable to qualify for the scheme, even if they had built up savings and were in a position to purchase their home.
“The Government needs to revamp the current scheme to make it more attractive to tenants and to local authorities.  If the scheme was improved, it would generate income for councils as well as securing home ownership for local authority tenants.  The current scheme is deeply flawed because even if a family has enough money to buy their home, they are automatically excluded from applying if the majority of their income comes from social welfare payments”, explained Deputy Brendan Smith.

“Many pensioners are now living into their 80s and 90s, however people in their 60s are precluded from the scheme if the State pension or payments made under participation schemes, such as the Rural Social Scheme makes up the bulk of their income.

“The Tenant Purchase Scheme was first established under Fianna Fáil, and was responsible for the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of the State.  Opening up a pathway to home ownership is at the very heart of Fianna Fáil policy.  Ireland cannot afford to have a divided society where home ownership is confined to a few, while the rest struggle with unstable tenure and rent levels.

“The right to buy under the tenant purchase scheme has been an important tool in extending home ownership opportunities to low income households.  The option to own a valuable long-term asset has empowered thousands of families across the country and should not be denied to any family or individual.

“The terms of previous Tenant Purchase Schemes were not as restrictive, and in most cases people who bought their homes from the local authority took great pride in doing so.  I am calling on the Government to review the current terms of the scheme and to make it workable, as I believe that home ownership is one of great stabilising characteristics of a decent society”.

______________________________________________

For Written Answer on : 25/10/2017

Question Number(s): 283 Question Reference(s): 45222/17

Department: Housing, Planning and Local Government

______________________________________________

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government his plans to enable persons avail of the tenant purchase scheme that may not have a weekly income apart from a social welfare payment but are in a position from their own means or through family financial support to purchase their council family home; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the present criteria of the scheme is denying such families the opportunity to retain their homes in family ownership; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY

The new Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme for existing local authority houses came into operation on 1 January 2016. The Scheme is open to eligible tenants, including joint tenants, of local authority houses that are available for sale under the Scheme. To be eligible, tenants must meet certain criteria, including having a minimum reckonable income of €15,000 per annum, have been in receipt of social housing support for at least one year and have been allocated a house under a local authority allocation scheme.

In line with the commitment given in the Rebuilding Ireland An Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, a review of the first 12 months of the Tenant Purchase scheme’s operation has been undertaken. The review has incorporated analysis of comprehensive data received from local authorities regarding the operation of the scheme during 2016 and a wide-ranging public consultation process which saw submissions received from individuals, elected representatives and organisations.

The review is now complete and a full report setting out findings and recommendations has been prepared. Following consultation with relevant Departments on implementation arrangements, I expect to be in a position to publish the outcome of the review in the coming weeks.

 

Government needs to engage with Farming and Agri-Food interests in Northern Ireland – Brendan Smith T.D.

Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil T.D. Brendan Smith has called upon the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine to have specific engagement with farming and agri-food interests in Northern Ireland in relation to the difficulties that will arise for this sector due to Brexit.

Deputy Brendan Smith said that there are common interests for farmers on all of this island in relation to the particular difficulties that will arise due to Brexit and that over the past 15-20 years that there has been enormous co-operation and development of the agri-food sector on an all Ireland basis. He emphasised that these developments have been beneficial for all farmers.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Michael Creed in his reply in Dáil Éireann to Brendan Smith stated

“Brexit poses enormous challenges for the agri-food sector in Ireland by virtue of its reliance on the UK market, and particularly the integrated nature of the trade with Northern Ireland.

The most immediate impact of Brexit has been the significant drop in the value of sterling against the euro, while some of the anticipated longer-term challenges are likely to include tariffs and trade, divergence in regulations and standards, border controls, and certification (including animal and plant health certification).

I and my officials have engaged extensively and on an ongoing basis with our UK counterparts, including those in Northern Ireland, since the Referendum result was announced in June 2016. Regular consultation has taken place at senior official level, both in the context of the North South Ministerial Council and on a more informal bilateral basis with Belfast and London, in an effort to maintain open and constructive lines of communication as developments have unfolded. These contacts will continue.

Prior to the dissolution of the Northern Ireland Assembly in January 2017, I met with Michelle McIlveen (DUP), the then Northern Ireland Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, on a number of occasions to discuss the impact Brexit could have on the agri-food sector. These included more formal engagements in the context of the North-South Ministerial Council (NSMC), such as those in Armagh in October 2016 and at the Plenary in November 2016.

In addition, I have hosted four All-Island Civic Dialogue events since last December, for thirteen different agri-food sectors under the Department of the Taoiseach’s All Island Civic Dialogue process. The Northern Ireland agri-food sector has been very strongly represented at these events. In all of these engagements we discussed the severe implications that Brexit could have for cross border agri-food trade in particular, and the potential steps that could be taken to mitigate its impact.

All of the information gathered at these events has fed into my Department’s preparations for the forthcoming negotiations as part of the EU 27 negotiating team.

The Government remains very focused on supporting the agri-food industry through the challenges ahead. I will continue to consult with the industry as the negotiations develop, and I will continue to press Ireland’s case for continued free access to the UK market, without tariffs and with minimal additional customs and administrative procedures”,

concluded Minister Creed in his reply in Dáil Éireann.

  ______________________________________________

For Written Answer on : 26/10/2017 

Question Number(s): 220 Question Reference(s): 45601/17 

Department: Agriculture, Food and the Marine 

______________________________________________

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine if he has had specific engagement with farming and agri food interests in Northern Ireland in relation to the difficulties that will arise for this sector due to Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY

Brexit poses enormous challenges for the agri-food sector in Ireland by virtue of its reliance on the UK market, and particularly the integrated nature of the trade with Northern Ireland.

The most immediate impact of Brexit has been the significant drop in the value of sterling against the euro, while some of the anticipated longer-term challenges are likely to include tariffs and trade, divergence in regulations and standards, border controls, and certification (including animal and plant health certification).

I and my officials have engaged extensively and on an ongoing basis with our UK counterparts, including those in Northern Ireland, since the Referendum result was announced in June 2016. Regular consultation has taken place at senior official level, both in the context of the North South Ministerial Council and on a more informal bilateral basis with Belfast and London, in an effort to maintain open and constructive lines of communication as developments have unfolded. These contacts will continue.

Prior to the dissolution of the Northern Ireland Assembly in January 2017, I met with Michelle McIlveen (DUP), the then Northern Ireland Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, on a number of occasions to discuss the impact Brexit could have on the agri-food sector. These included more formal engagements in the context of the North-South Ministerial Council (NSMC), such as those in Armagh in October 2016 and at the Plenary in November 2016.

In addition, I have hosted four All-Island Civic Dialogue events since last December, for thirteen different agri-food sectors under the Department of the Taoiseach’s All Island Civic Dialogue process. The Northern Ireland agri-food sector has been very strongly represented at these events. In all of these engagements we discussed the severe implications that Brexit could have for cross border agri-food trade in particular, and the potential steps that could be taken to mitigate its impact.

All of the information gathered at these events has fed into my Department’s preparations for the forthcoming negotiations as part of the EU 27 negotiating team.

The Government remains very focused on supporting the agri-food industry through the challenges ahead. I will continue to consult with the industry as the negotiations develop, and I will continue to press Ireland’s case for continued free access to the UK market, without tariffs and with minimal additional customs and administrative procedures.

 

Additional facilities needed at CGH’s Emergency Department – Inadequate facilities and patient numbers increasing – Brendan Smith T.D.

   Deputy Brendan Smith: In May 2014 I instigated a Topical Issue debate on the need to provide a new emergency department at Cavan General Hospital. The hospital opened in June 1989 and since then the number of patients presenting at the emergency department has grown substantially. That particular debate, to which the then Minister for Health, Senator Reilly, replied at the time, highlighted the need to provide appropriate resuscitation and isolation facilities at the emergency department and in particular the need to provide more examination cubicles. I also highlighted the benefits that would accrue from having a minor operating theatre within the emergency department.

The layout of the department is not suitable due to the numbers presenting nowadays. That has been accepted by the HSE and by all medical and nursing clinicians as well. There has been an increase in the population of the Cavan-Monaghan area, which I very much welcome. When I raised this issue in 2014, the population of both counties at that time was 133,500 people. Today, thankfully, it has reached 137,562 people. I raise the point about population because there is a high proportion of older people in the Cavan-Monaghan area. It is well above the national average. As the hospital also provides services for our friends and neighbours from counties Meath, Leitrim and Longford, it has a major catchment area. Over the years, thankfully, there have been major developments at the hospital and I welcome the provision in 2009 of a medical assessment unit. A paediatric assessment unit was also provided. In 2014 an outpatient facility for paediatric cystic fibrosis patients opened and that occurred with huge input from the local community as well. From 2000 to 2011, a major capital programme was in place in which more than 20 additional beds were provided for the hospital, as well as a magnetic resonance imaging, MRI, unit, a computed tomography, CT, scanner, oncology services and a major expansion in renal dialysis services. Thankfully, today services are provided at Cavan General Hospital that once one could only access in the tertiary hospitals in Dublin.

We welcome the provision of additional services but they pose additional demands on the emergency department. When capacity is expanded – which I was very glad to support and to work towards achieving – that creates an extra demand on the emergency department. In the meantime the investment has not taken place in upgrading existing facilities or providing additional facilities. A number of years ago, the HSE brought the design plans to a very advanced stage on three or four occasions. There was going to be a major capital investment but each time, it did not happen. It would have been a very substantial project with additional facilities that everyone would have welcomed. In the meantime, plans were put in place to have a more minor investment that nonetheless would be very important. It was a programme that had advanced through planning. We were told the money was in place but unfortunately it still has not happened. The smaller project, which would be very welcome, would provide eight more cubicles. That would be extremely important. People with family members who have attended and people who have worked in the hospital over the years have told me the extra accommodation – comprising of examination cubicles – would be key in providing a better service to the patients presenting. I have been told, via replies to parliamentary questions, correspondence with the HSE and meetings with successive Ministers and senior representatives of the HSE, that a resuscitation area is being developed. Nothing has happened on that, to my knowledge. I would appreciate if the Minister could give me an outline of what is proposed at present, because nothing has happened so far. The numbers presenting are increasing on an annual basis. That is a clear fact.

End of Take

The HSE is fully aware that in 2016 approximately 35,000 people presented at an emergency department which lacked adequate facilities to deal with such patient numbers.

 

Snippet Ref No: XX00200 … Edit Snippet   |   Insert Snippet | Delete Snippet | Insert Question Heading | Quick Edit   [Speaker]

 

   Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Catherine Byrne): On behalf of the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, I thank the Deputy for the opportunity to update the House. I will reply to the issue as tabled and then maybe pick up on some of the Deputy’s concerns. The emergency department in Cavan has been performing well this year. Performance information from the HSE shows a 51% reduction in trolley numbers at the hospital in comparison with the same period in 2016. This is a positive performance especially when we consider that the overall public hospital system is seeing growing demand for emergency care.

This year emergency department, ED, attendances are up nearly 2% overall that is over 15,000 more patients attending EDs nationally as compared to 2016. In addition, Cavan General Hospital has been performing well in terms of patient experience times in the ED. Up to the end of August, 72% of all patients completed their episodes of care in the ED within six hours. The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, RCSI, Hospital Group has identified the need for development of the resuscitation area in Cavan emergency department. Future investment in Cavan General Hospital will be considered within the overall acute hospital infrastructure programme, the prioritised needs of the hospital groups and within the overall capital envelope available to the health service.

The HSE will continue to apply the available funding for hospital development in the most cost effective way possible to meet current and future needs of the health service. The new capital envelope announced last week in the context of budget 2018 will be used by the HSE to revise the capital plan for 2018 and will form the basis of the Department’s submission for the forthcoming ten-year national investment plan. Community health organisations and hospitals are all currently in the process of planning for increased demand for health services. They are developing integrated winter plans to cover the period October 2017 to March 2018. These plans, including the plan for Cavan General Hospital, have been submitted to the HSE and will be approved before the end of October. As part of budget 2018 an additional €40 million was announced for 2017 to prepare for and manage the expected peak in demand for our health services over the upcoming winter period.

A bed capacity review is also ongoing within the Department of Health. This review is examining key elements of hospital capacity. The findings of this review will provide a basis for determining the capacity requirements over the next 15 years. It will also identify the type of capacity needed at a national and regional level with regard to acute hospitals, primary care and community care. A final report will be published before the end of the year.

 

Snippet Ref No: XX00300 … Edit Snippet   |   Insert Snippet | Delete Snippet | Insert Question Heading | Quick Edit   [Speaker]

 

   Deputy Brendan Smith: I thank the Minister of State for her reply. If the small project I mentioned were to be provided eight more cubicles and minor surgery could be provided in that accommodation. That would cost less than €1 million. That would ease the pressure considerably on the staff in the emergency department and provide better facilities for the patients who are our number one consideration.

Poor accommodation and inadequate facilities place a huge additional burden on staff. It saps morale. I compliment all the staff in all the different disciplines in the emergency department in Cavan General Hospital and throughout the hospital. They work extremely hard and provide a very good service under very difficult conditions. A few years ago the HSE stated in a report that the emergency department was not fit for purpose. In the meantime it has not invested. The need is urgent. I would settle tomorrow morning for the smaller project if it got the go ahead and the additional accommodation could be provided.

It is not acceptable that when people come into hospital and speak to the reception staff, who are under pressure too, the next person in the queue can hear what they are saying. When we present at an emergency department we do not want to know the name or the details of the person ahead of us or why that person is there. The least that can be provided to patients is privacy. It is not possible for the staff to provide that privacy because of the lack of accommodation. The staff in that department and throughout the hospital are working under tremendous pressure, providing a very good service.

I have raised separately the need to appoint additional nurses to the hospital. I hope the Minister will tell the RCSI Hospital Group of the need to have more nurses appointed to Cavan General Hospital. I had the opportunity to meet him privately on this issue. Could the Minister of State bring back to him the clear message that I am trying to impart here this evening, namely, the need for that additional accommodation to provide people with the service they need when they present at the emergency department? The number of patients presenting at the emergency department is increasing annually. They are not just repeat patients. That is a significant factor in the assessment of the demand on the hospital. My colleague and good friend, Deputy Breathnach, who was a very prominent and active member of the old north eastern health board, the HSE forum for the north east and a great advocate for the development of services in Cavan, Louth, Monaghan and Meath shares my concerns about the inadequate provision of emergency departments for the four counties concerned. I would appreciate if the Minister of State would speak to the Minister about my concerns and ensure that the HSE moves to provide additional upgraded accommodation and new facilities at Cavan General Hospital’s emergency department.

Snippet Ref No: XX00400 … Edit Snippet   |   Insert Snippet | Delete Snippet | Insert Question Heading | Quick Edit   [Speaker]

   Deputy Catherine Byrne: For the first time in a long time, there is a possibility of increases, particularly in capital spending in the budget for 2018. It is not acceptable that people entering an accident and emergency department do not have a proper room where they can speak one-to-one without everybody else listening to their business. I have never been in Cavan General Hospital, so I am not sure of its lay out. I will, however, relay this to the Minister. I will take on board what the Deputy said about capacity there to build extra cubicles that could assist in the overall administration for people who come into the accident and emergency unit. With regard to what the Deputy said about the increased population in Cavan, I know people who have moved from Dublin to the Cavan area. That is happening weekly or monthly. I have taken detailed notes of what the Deputy said and I will make sure the Minister responds to the Deputy.

 

Smith secures Govt commitment to review income eligibility limits for Social Housing

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan/Monaghan, Brendan Smith has secured a commitment from the Minister for Housing that as part of the broader social housing agenda a review of the income eligibility limits for social housing will be completed.

The Deputy received confirmation through a recent tabled Parliamentary Question in which he asked the Minister for an update on a review of income eligibility limits for social housing.

Deputy Smith commented, “Over the past 2 years income eligibility limits for social housing have become unrealistic.

“I have consistently highlighted the cases of many applicants on low incomes, who were not deemed eligible, because they were over the income threshold and who at the same time had no chance whatsoever of obtaining a mortgage or a bank loan to purchase a home.

“There is a critical need to improve income eligibility limits for social housing, particularly in counties such as Cavan and Monaghan where the local rental cost of housing accommodation has risen.
“Understandably, the Department must direct resources to those most in need of social housing support however, there are more and more families unable to meet household needs and increasing rent and who, because of current criteria, do not qualify for social housing.

“I am relieved to learn that the Minister has committed to complete a review of the income eligibility limits for social housing supports, the results of which are to be available for publication during 2018.

He concluded, “It’s my full intention to ensure that the Minister fulfils this commitment and that working families struggling to meet the cost of accommodation can seek appropriate supports.”