Foreign Affairs Committee to discuss trade opportunities in Asia post-Brexit CEO of the ONE Campaign will also appear before the Committee

The Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, Trade and Defence will meet tomorrow at 9am in Committee Room 1.

In Session A, the Committee will discuss Asian trade opportunities post-Brexit with representatives from Asia Matters.

In Session B, the focus of the meeting will turn to the role of the ONE Campaign in ending extreme poverty and the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals.  Jamie Drummond, Executive Director, ONE Campaign, will appear before the Committee.

Committee Chair, Brendan Smith said today, “Asia Matters believes that accelerated trade growth with Asia is a key solution to protect Ireland against major economic disruption and increased unemployment. There has been much discussion of Ireland ‘looking east’ and expanding our markets in that area as we deal with the fall-out of Brexit.  The Committee will engage with Asia Matters on the scale of opportunity available to Ireland through increased trade with Asian countries.”

“In the second session of our meeting, we will turn to social justice matters and discuss with Mr Jamie Drummond how Irish aid can contribute towards inclusivity, openness and progress on a global scale.”

Watch proceedings live: https://beta.oireachtas.ie/en/oireachtas-tv/cr1-live/

Advertisements

Eligibility for Council housing

Thursday, 7 December 2017

 Header Item Local Authority Housing Eligibility
Header Item Housing Provision

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
87
88
89
90
91
92
93
94
95
96
97
98
of 98 Next Page Last Page


Local Authority Housing Eligibility

 9. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy when the review of income eligibility limits for social housing will be complete; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52195/17]

Deputy Brendan Smith: Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith The Minister will recall that I have raised the issue of the need to increase the income eligibility limits for social housing with him on several occasions, as well as with his predecessor, the Tánaiste, Deputy Coveney, and with the Minister of State, Deputy English. My constituency of Cavan-Monaghan is in the lowest income limit band and the limit is far too low. I have previously cited in the House cases of people on family income supplement who have been denied the opportunity to apply for a council house because the family income supplement brings them above the income threshold. That they have been approved for family income supplement demonstrates that their income is not sustainable to support a family but they are unable to qualify for social housing. That situation urgently needs to be addressed.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy The social housing assessment regulations 2011 prescribe maximum net income limits for each housing authority in different bands according to area, with income defined and assessed according to a standard household means policy.

The income bands and the authority area assigned to each band are based on an assessment of the income needed to provide for a household’s basic needs plus a comparative analysis of the local rental cost of housing accommodation across the country. The limits also reflect a blanket increase of €5,000 introduced prior to the new system coming into operation in order to broaden the base from which social housing tenants are drawn and thereby promote sustainable communities, which also had a future-proofing impact.

Given the cost to the State of providing social housing, it is considered prudent and fair to direct resources to those most in need of social housing support.  The current income eligibility requirements generally achieve that by providing for a fair and equitable system of identifying the households facing the greatest challenge in meeting their accommodation needs from their own resources.

As part of the broader social housing reform agenda, a review of the income eligibility limits for social housing supports has commenced. I expect the results of the review to be available for publication in the first half of 2018.

Deputy Brendan Smith: Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith I thank the Minister for his reply and I welcome that the review is under way. However, delivery in the first half of 2018 could be seven months away, which would not be acceptable. I was given a commitment by the Minister’s predecessor that the study would be concluded at an early date and the Minister gave a similar indication in response to previous parliamentary questions. Each time the issue has been raised, the schedule for publication has been put back. I appeal to the Minister to demand of his officials that they complete the review within a month or six weeks. As I said to the Minister on the last occasion I raised this issue during Oral Questions, a long, drawn-out review is not needed. The Department should ring a few good officials in councils who are dealing with the issue on a daily basis. Such officials could give the Department examples of applicants who have been turned down because of the family income supplement or carer’s allowance payment being factored into their income. This exercise should be completed very quickly. There is an urgent need to increase income limits.

One of the great successes of social housing in this country has been the mix of people in communities in large local authority housing areas. We will lose that mix of people in my area because those working in low-paid jobs are not eligible for consideration for social housing. That needs to be rectified in the very early part of 2018, not in a year’s time.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I share the Deputy’s concern and his desire to get the report completed as quickly as possible. When I said it would be delivered in the first half of 2018, I did not mean that it would be done in seven months’ time. We want it to be done as quickly as possible. We have been engaging with the Housing Agency, which is doing this work, to get the report done as quickly as possible. I understand the Deputy’s point on getting in touch with local authorities that might be better than others in order to get a quicker understanding of what might need to be done in this area but in order to do a review such as this and given its importance and how it will affect every local authority in the State it has to be comprehensive, consistent and work with each local authority to get the relevant data and make an assessment on that basis. I agree with the Deputy’s commitment to ensuring we maintain a mix in communities and the social housing stock. One of the reasons an additional €5,000 was built into the 2011 review was to ensure we were bringing in a broader cohort, facilitating a mix and keeping sustainable communities. The limits are net of things such as tax and USC and, therefore, in some areas are above the average industrial wage, although I appreciate Cavan is in the lowest band. Work is being done by the Housing Agency and as soon as it is completed, we will publish it.

Deputy Brendan Smith: Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith I again appeal to the Minister to go back to the Housing Agency and the senior officials in his Department and ask them to give this issue the utmost urgency. We cannot condemn people who are working in low-paid jobs and trying to care for and support their families in difficult circumstances to renting houses for the rest of their lives. Such people come to my clinics every week and ask me if there is any chance they will get on the council housing list. A difficulty for such people is that they are renting and are unable to draw down the other supports available to those on the council housing list. It is not the only difficulty but it is an extra factor. They realise they do not have a chance of being able to get a mortgage or source funding from a financial institution in order to provide a home for themselves. They need to be able to access local authority housing. We must help the people who are working hard and trying to provide for their families. Most of the people who have come to me are young mothers and lone parents working in low-paid jobs and trying to rear families on their own in exceptionally difficult circumstances. They need to be supported by the State.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I understand and respect the Deputy’s commitment to the issue and to his constituents who are in this very difficult situation. It is difficult to know what assessments are being done in individual cases. I do not yet know what the review will conclude and it is not clear to me if it will recommend an increase in the bands or, if such increase is recommended, how much that might be.

We are moving to introduce an affordability scheme to deal with the issue, as was addressed in a previous question this morning. It is important that we can look after people. We must move away from a person either qualifying for social housing supports and getting almost all the supports the State can offer, or not qualifying and getting almost nothing. There is a cohort of people who need our support and for whom a little help will make a large difference. That is why we are bringing back an affordability scheme, the details of which I will announce as soon as I can.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher I will allow a brief supplementary from Deputy Ó Broin.

Deputy Eoin Ó Broin: Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin As I said on the previous occasion Deputy Smith raised this matter, a very simple solution would be to allow local authorities to disregard family income supplement when conducting the means test for social housing. That is already the case in respect of carer’s allowance. In my constituency, a working family were €500 a year over the social housing income threshold and were consequently denied access to social housing support and have to pay €1,600 per month in rent. Separate to the review, the Minister could change the regulations overnight to allow for the disregard of family income supplement. I urge him to do so because it would solve the problem for many of our constituents.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I am aware the Deputy raised that matter previously and I discussed it with my officials. It has been communicated to the Housing Agency, which is conducting the review.

Ministers must clarify issues surrounding Over Age Exemption for children with disabilities – Brendan Smith T.D.

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has called on the Minister for Children and the Minister for Disabilities to reverse a decision to remove the Over Age exemption from the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme from next September.

This exemption allowed children with disabilities to take up an ECCE place for a longer period of time to help them prepare for the transition to primary school.

Deputy Brendan Smith explained, “I have been contacted by a number of families who are extremely worried about the impact that the removal of this exemption will have on their children.  This is an important scheme, which helps children with disabilities better prepare for starting mainstream primary school.

“Children with disabilities sometimes need to be given additional tools to help them adapt before they enter a new school setting, and this exemption scheme provided them with the time and support they needed to do that.  The fact that it has been cut is a serious concern.

“I’m shocked that Minister for Disabilities, Finian McGrath would allow his government colleague, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone, bring in these regressive changes.

“I am calling on both Ministers to reconsider this unfair move and to reinstate this extremely important element of the ECCE scheme for children with disabilities”, concluded Deputy Brendan Smith.

Rural crime spree reinforces need for additional officers – Brendan Smith TD

– Station closures and reduced Garda numbers are leading to spike in burglaries –

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has reiterated his call to the Justice Minister to urgently allocate more Garda resources in the Cavan-Monaghan division.  The latest figures released to Deputy Smith reveal that Garda numbers have effectively remained static over the past few months, despite an increase in break-ins and burglaries.

Deputy Smith explained, “The closure of rural Garda stations has led to a major fall off in the number of Gardaí assigned to rural areas.  It is therefore no surprise that we have seen a spike in crime, particularly in farm and machinery yards.   In recent months we have seen an epidemic of burglaries and break-ins with machinery, equipment and diesel stolen.  Many farmers are choosing not to report these crimes for fear of their insurance premiums increasing.

“The figures provided by Minister Flanagan reveal there were 321 Gardaí in the Cavan-Monaghan division at the end of September, which is effectively the same as it was in August.  Since 2014 only 33 officers out of 1,400 who graduated from the Garda College were assigned to the division.

“Despite the Minister’s claim that the Government is “committed to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and to deter crime”, he fails to give any firm commitment to increase Garda numbers in this area.

“We need to see a stronger Garda presence in our communities to act as a deterrent to criminals and to quell the fears of local people who have been the victims of crime.  However, this Government has ignored the seriousness of the issue and the fact that there are no additional resources being actively considered, even with Brexit on the horizon, is a clear indication that Fine Gael is failing to understand the situation on the ground.

“We need to see additional resources, including the reopening of rural Garda stations and extra Gardaí, allocated to ensure our communities are properly protected”, concluded Deputy Brendan Smith.

 

Road Works Programme 2018

For Oral Answer on : 22/11/2017 

Question Number(s): 59 Question Reference(s): 49354/17 

Department: Transport, Tourism and Sport 

______________________________________________

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Transport; Tourism and Sport his plans to ensure a substantial increase in the financial allocation to Cavan county council for the road works programme for 2018 in view of the deterioration of parts of the non national road network; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Brendan Smith T.D.

REPLY

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of each local authority, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from local authorities’ own resources supplemented by State road grants. The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for the local authority.

Regional and Local Road allocations under the three main grant categories (Restoration Maintenance, Restoration Improvement and Discretionary Grant) are allocated based on the length of mileage of regional and local roads within the county.

It is expected that regional and local road allocations for 2018 will be notified to local authorities in January 2018. In line with my Department’s 2018 roads budget, an increase in allocations to local authorities is anticipated.

______________________________________________

For Oral Answer on : 22/11/2017 

Question Number(s): 78 Question Reference(s): 49355/17 

Department: Transport, Tourism and Sport 

______________________________________________

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Transport; Tourism and Sport his plans to ensure a substantial increase in the financial allocation to Monaghan county council for the road works programme for 2018 in view of the deterioration of parts of the non national road network

REPLY

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of each local authority, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from local authorities’ own resources supplemented by State road grants.  The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for the local authority.

Regional and Local Road allocations under the three main grant categories (Restoration Maintenance, Restoration Improvement and Discretionary Grant) are allocated based on the length of mileage of regional and local roads within the county.

It is expected that regional and local road allocations for 2018 will be notified to local authorities in January 2018.  In line with my Department’s 2018 roads budget, an increase in allocations to local authorities is anticipated.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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.