My Monday morning clinics in Darndale are suspended for the next few weeks since the BESC offices are closed for staff annual leave. I will be in Le Chéile, Donnycarney on Monday the 9th of July and have been holding my usual Friday and Saturday clinics also. On Tuesday morning, I visited Block 8 at Cromcastle Court, met local residents and saw the shocking structural damage to a staircase there. I have been calling for a Topical Issue Debate on this urgent matter in Dáil Éireann but have not been granted time for that debate yet. I will continue to raise the matter next week.
On Tuesday, my colleague, Deputy Joan Collins, and others involved in the Right2Water campaign held a press conference on the need to have a referendum about keeping water in public ownership. Given the current heatwave and water restrictions there are fears that the drought is being used as an attempt to try and reintroduce charges of some sort. On Tuesday afternoon, I attended the Budgetary Oversight Committee and also, that night, spoke in support of my colleague, Deputy Mick Wallace’s, Private Members’ Bill, the Urban Regeneration and Housing (Amendment) Bill 2018 which would increase the Vacant Site Levy from 3% to 25%.
On Wednesday, a representative from my office attended the launch of The Future of Council Housing: An analysis of the financial sustainability of local authority provided social housing’ by Professor Michelle Norris and Aideen Hayden, where the case was clearly made for the need for council housing and that Councils be enabled to raise their own housing finance from the property tax, borrowings and have self-financing planned maintenance of their estates. That evening I attended the Committee on Procedure.
On Thursday afternoon, I took part in the RTÉ Leaders’ Questions programme and later chaired the Dáil for a period of time. I later spoke on the Home Building Finance Ireland Bill 2018 which will provide a small amount of finance and hopefully up to 6,000 homes over 3 years. While this is not remotely enough of what is needed, it is a very small step to provide finance for additional residential units. Clearly a national housing bank to fund a massive programme of social and affordable housing remains necessary.
On Friday morning, we finally passed the life-saving and important Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2017. I again had to make interventions with the Ceann Comhairle relating to the filibustering of 5 rural TDs and after almost 20 hours of debate the Bill passed by 75 to 8. I was very glad to have representatives from PARC Road Safety Group in the gallery as my guests when the Bill finally passed Dáil Éireann.