338. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the steps he is taking to respond to concerns by a foreign direct investor (details supplied) that proposals to fast track planning applications for data centres are insufficient; and the status of legislative changes to ensure Ireland retains and attracts foreign direct investment in this area. (Question 17317/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Planning Issues)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): I am actively progressing a number of measures under my remit that are included in the Strategic Policy Framework agreed by Government in October 2017 for the continued development of data centres in Ireland, as part of wider economic growth and balanced regional development. 
The National Planning Framework, published in February of this year, includes an objective for the promotion of Ireland as a sustainable internat...

339. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the way in which rent increase caps appear not to govern student accommodation (details supplied); and his plans for changes to prevent such large rent increases. (Question 17125/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Rent Controls)

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Damien English): I refer to the reply to Questions No. 1491, 1556 and 1579 of 17 April 2018 which sets out the latest position in the matter.
 ...

340. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if funding will be provided for Dublin Fire Brigade to purchase new ladders that can reach up to 42 metres in height; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17143/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Fire Service)

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Damien English): The provision of fire services in local authority areas, including the establishment and maintenance of fire brigades, the assessment of fire cover needs and the provision of premises, is a statutory function of the individual fire authorities under the provisions of the Fire Services Acts, 1981 and 2003. 
My Department supports the fire authorities through setting national policy, providing a ...

341. Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to open up the pyrite remediation scheme nationwide to assist homeowners that are adversely affected by same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17148/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Pyrite Remediation Programme)

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Damien English): The Pyrite Resolution Act 2013 provides the statutory framework for the establishment of the Pyrite Resolution Board and for the making of a pyrite remediation scheme to be implemented by the Board with support from the Housing Agency. 
The provisions of the Act apply only to dwellings affected by significant damage attributable to pyritic heave consequent on the presence of reactive pyrite in ...

342. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the staffing request by Galway County Council to appoint a branch librarian at Ballygar Library, County Galway, will be approved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17162/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Library Services Staff)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): My Department received a staff sanction request from Galway County Council for a Branch Librarian, Ballygar, on 5 April 2018 and following consideration of the request, the post was approved on 16 April 2018.
 ...

343. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of new local authority houses or voluntary houses built in Galway city and county respectively in each year since 2011; the number of private houses purchased for social housing purposes in this period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17182/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Social and Affordable Housing Data)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Through the supports made available from my Department, funding is available to all local authorities to deliver additional social housing stock through new construction projects, through the acquisition of new and previously owned houses/apartments and through working with approved housing bodies under a range of delivery options. 
Details on the number of properties purchased and built in each local authority area, inc...

344. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if funding provided by his Department to Kildare County Council to repair houses has been returned; and if so, the amount. (Question 17191/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Local Authority Housing Maintenance)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Section 58 of the Housing Act 1966 provides that the management and maintenance of local authority housing stock is a matter for each individual local authority in the first instance, including housing maintenance and repairs.
My Department does provide exchequer support to local authorities in respect of housing refurbishments in certain situations and, for example, in 2017 through the Voids Programme, Kildare County Co...

345. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme applications received to date by local authority area; the number of loans approved, declined and still under consideration, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17215/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Local Authority Housing)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): As with the previous local authority home loan offerings, the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan, which was introduced on 1 February 2018, is a local authority product and loan applications are made directly to the local authority in whose area the property proposed for purchase is situated. My Department does not collect information on the number of enquiries to local authorities regarding the loan, the number of completed l...

346. Deputy Noel Rock asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he has examined a report by an organisation (details supplied); his views on the projected 10% increase on housing prices in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17247/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - House Prices)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): As the Deputy will be aware, chronic under-supply of housing across all tenures, for several years during the economic downturn, is at the heart of the significant challenges which exist in the housing sector. The residential construction sector in Ireland was severely impacted by the economic downturn, with housing output falling by almost 90% between 2006 and 2013. 
The latest CSO Residential Property Price Index (RPPI...

347. Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the estimated number of units to be delivered in each of the pilot projects for a new cost rental scheme; the timeframe for their delivery; the criteria for their allocation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17297/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Rental Sector)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Against the background of the affordability pressures which currently exist in the rental market in certain areas, the Government is determined to make cost rental a major part of the Irish housing system, similar to the role it plays in many European countries. Under this approach, rents are set at levels to recover the construction costs and to facilitate the management and administration of developments, but with onl...

348. Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of affordable purchase scheme units provided to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17298/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Social and Affordable Housing Provision)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): The delivery of more affordable homes, to buy or rent, is a major priority for Government, focusing in particular on the cities of Dublin, Galway and Cork, where people are facing the greatest affordability challenge. Following the economic downturn, with housing construction output dropping by 90%, the Government has taken remedial action to get Ireland building new homes again, culminating in the comprehensive Rebuildi...

349. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when a decision will be made on an application for a thatching grant by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17340/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Thatching Grants Applications)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): My Department received an application last month for a thatching grant for the case in question. The assessment of such applications requires an inspection of the property, which will take place shortly. A decision will issue to the applicant shortly thereafter.
 ...

350. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the level of funding that will be provided to Monaghan County Council for 2018 in respect of housing construction, purchase of houses, upgrading of existing housing stock and funding for housing grant schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17341/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Local Authority Housing Provision)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): I propose to take Questions Nos. 350 and 351 together.
In respect of delivering new social housing homes, whether through construction, acquisition or other approaches, no precise advance allocation of funding is made to individual local authorities. Instead, funding is drawn down by the local authorities, in line with the level of advancement they make in delivering new social housing. In that regard, I have issued soc...

351. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the level of funding that will be provided to Cavan County Council for 2018 in respect of housing construction, purchase of houses, upgrading of existing housing stock and funding for housing grant schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17342/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Local Authority Housing Provision)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): I propose to take Questions Nos. 350 and 351 together.
In respect of delivering new social housing homes, whether through construction, acquisition or other approaches, no precise advance allocation of funding is made to individual local authorities. Instead, funding is drawn down by the local authorities, in line with the level of advancement they make in delivering new social housing. In that regard, I have issued soc...

352. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if improvements will be introduced at an early date to the tenant purchase scheme to enable Part V tenants and tenants in receipt of a social welfare payment who are in a financial position to purchase their homes to participate in this scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17343/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Tenant Purchase Scheme Review)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): The Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme 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 and having been in receipt of social housing support for at least one year.
The minimum ...

237. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he has had correspondence or meetings with representative estate agents bodies on the matter of persons queueing over a number of nights to bid on houses; and his views on whether this is an acceptable practice. (Question 16880/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Housing Issues)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): I have not had correspondence from, or meetings with, estate agents representative bodies on the matter of persons queuing to purchase houses. However, the delivery of more affordable homes, to buy or rent, is a major priority for Government, focusing in particular on those people on low to moderate incomes. Recognising that housing affordability is a major issue for some households, especially in areas such as Dublin, C...

238. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the way in which the criteria for the position of senior staff officer in the finance department in Carlow County Council is established; the way in which an applicant (details supplied) who is employed in the Central Bank would not make the initial qualifying criteria; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16921/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Local Authority Staff Recruitment)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Under section 159 of the Local Government Act 2001, each Chief Executive is responsible for the staffing and organisational arrangements necessary for carrying out the functions of the local authorities for which he or she is responsible.  
The qualifications outlined in the advertisement for the post concerned are the declared qualifications as agreed by my Department in consultation with representatives of the Local Go...

239. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to ensure that at least 10% of all new builds will be wheelchair liveable; the steps he is taking to ensure that accessible and liveable accommodation is being constructed and made available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16944/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Building Regulations)

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Damien English) (Deputy Damien English): I propose to take Questions Nos. 239 and 240 together.
My Department is in regular contact with disability advocates and my colleague Minister Murphy has met with them on the specific issue referenced by the Deputy.  
One of the key measures achieved in 2016 under the National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability (NHSPWD), which has been extended to 2020, was th...

240. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he has met with disability advocates regarding increasing numbers of accommodation units that are wheelchair liveable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16945/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Building Regulations)

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Damien English) (Deputy Damien English): I propose to take Questions Nos. 239 and 240 together.
My Department is in regular contact with disability advocates and my colleague Minister Murphy has met with them on the specific issue referenced by the Deputy.  
One of the key measures achieved in 2016 under the National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability (NHSPWD), which has been extended to 2020, was th...

241. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to review the income guidelines for local authority housing lists in view of rental increases. (Question 17020/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Local Authority Housing Eligibility)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): The Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011 prescribe maximum net income limits for each local authority, in different bands according to the area, with income being defined and assessed according to a standard Household Means Policy.
The income bands and the authority area assigned to each band were based on an assessment of the income needed to provide for a household’s basic needs, plus a comparative analysis of th...

242. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the steps he will take in relation to the requests from Dublin City Council following the receiver seeking to reduce the amount of social housing in the Poolbeg SDZ; if all materials, correspondence and records related to the Poolbeg SDZ within his Department will be released; and if he will attend Dublin City Council to answer questions from councillors on this issue. (Question 17055/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Local Authority Housing)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): The development of the Poolbeg Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) will, subject to a decision of An Bord Pleanála to approve the detailed planning scheme drawn up by the City Council and the subject of a current appeal, be subject to the provisions of Part V of the Planning Act which will deliver some 350 social housing units.
Taking account of wider Government policy in the context of the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan fo...

1487. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the steps he will take to address a serious risk to the highly vulnerable aquifer posed by a company’s reinforcement project (details supplied) in counties Laois and Kilkenny particularly in view of the pollution incident that occurred in March 2018 during which kerosene entered the Fethard water supply; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15209/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Water Quality)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1487 and 1488 together.
The project in question has been granted planning permission by An Bord Pleanála and  environmental and other considerations would have been taken into account as part of the planning process. 
Local authorities have a general responsibility for the monitoring, management, protection and improvement of water quality. The Local Government (Water Pollution) Acts 1977...

1488. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he is satisfied that there is no risk to the groundwater, groundwater dependent habitats and highly vulnerable regionally important aquifer situated under counties Laois and Kilkenny reinforcement project substation in County Laois in view of the fact that operational risks did not form part of the environmental assessment of the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15211/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Water Quality)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1487 and 1488 together.
The project in question has been granted planning permission by An Bord Pleanála and  environmental and other considerations would have been taken into account as part of the planning process. 
Local authorities have a general responsibility for the monitoring, management, protection and improvement of water quality. The Local Government (Water Pollution) Acts 1977...

1489. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of librarians in the past five years by county in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15292/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Library Services Data)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1489 and 1490 together.
My Department is responsible for workforce planning for the local government sector, including the monitoring of local government sector employment levels. To this end, my Department gathers quarterly data on staff numbers in local authorities; however, the data gathered does not provide details in terms of the number of librarians employed or the number that retir...

1490. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of librarians that have retired in the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15293/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Library Services Data)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1489 and 1490 together.
My Department is responsible for workforce planning for the local government sector, including the monitoring of local government sector employment levels. To this end, my Department gathers quarterly data on staff numbers in local authorities; however, the data gathered does not provide details in terms of the number of librarians employed or the number that retir...