On Tuesday I asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation about Brexit readiness of business in Ireland and how many are accessing the supports being made available to them. I also asked about the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) and its ability to issue fines for breaches of European and Irish competition law. Also that afternoon I attended the Budgetary Oversight Committee, where we heard from representatives of the Disability Federation of Ireland. I had requested that the Committee invite advocates from disability services to present on budgetary needs in this area for Budget 2020.
I have listened to the Minister’s response but I still do not see why it would not be sensible to take the extra step and allow for some kind of verification process. The Minister has indicated how sending misinformation to the RTB can be a criminal offence and outlined the requirement for works to be documented. However, there is still no provision for verification. Many of us met when the heads of the Bill were published and in the run-up to its passage. We have been talking about some of these issues for decades, even since the aftermath of the 2004 Act.
Deputy Broughan has, again, today, condemned Fine Gael for its snail pace action on addressing the housing and homeless crisis and criticised the constant spin from Minister Eoghan Murphy and his Department. During the debate on the Motion on Homelessness today, brought forward by Deputy Broughan and other members of the Technical Group, Independents4Change, opposition deputies called for the declaration of a housing emergency, for a referendum on the right to housing and other measures.
On Monday morning I held my usual Darndale information clinic and Tuesday saw representatives from my office take part in the street canvass around St. Stephen’s Green and Grafton St for Wednesday’s #RaiseTheRoof rally. The lunchtime rally on Wednesday brought over 12,000 people to the streets of Dublin to call on the Government to declare a Housing Emergency and take action on our worsening crisis. The rally was attended by people of all ages, many unions were represented and all Opposition parties and Independents supported the cross-party motion in the Dáil later that same day.
I’m delighted to be supporting the #RaiseTheRoof campaign today and commend those involved in organising it. It is about time that we had a huge movement of all those representing everyone affected by the housing and homeless crisis. The emergency has now permeated all sectors of our society (bar the Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil pro-landlord sectors obviously) and it spans all generations from homeless children, to students unable to find appropriate rental accommodation, young professionals forced to live at home for longer due to unaffordable rents, to people unable to save for deposits for mortgages, to families whose mortgages are being sold to vulture funds or struggling with arrears or repossession threats, to older people dependent on Rent Supplement alongside their pensions. I commend the unions, ICTU, USI and others who have mobilised for today’s rally.
The past two weeks have been very busy in the Dáil with usual Dáil business and pre-budget briefings and preparation. There have been a number of meetings of the Budgetary Oversight Committee as we finalised our Pre-Budget Report and the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe, appeared before us for questioning this week. I asked him about whether he was examining the possibility of a state saving scheme and if he would be publishing a full gender-proofing statement alongside budget 2019.
On Tuesday night, Deputy Broughan voted for the Motion of No Confidence in the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy. He said that Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil should be “banished from Government” for at least a generation for presiding over the growing Housing Crisis and allowing 4,000 children to become homeless. Last week, Deputy Broughan had submitted an oral Parliamentary Question to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone asking her to report the number of children that have been in emergency homeless accommodation by hubs or hotels and guesthouses for less than 3 to 6, 6 to 9, 9 to 12, 12 to 24 and for 24 months plus, respectively. This question was transferred to Minister Murphy for reply.
As the Minister is aware, something of the order of 5,000 individuals and families in the Dublin Bay North constituency I represent are on the city council’s housing list and a further 2,500 are on the transfer list. When the Fingal part of our constituency is added – I see the Minister of Education and Skills, Deputy Bruton, is in attendance – we have by far the worst housing list in the country, higher than any other county, the whole of Fingal or the whole of south Dublin.
Deputy Broughan is delighted to be supporting the ‘Raise The Roof’ initiative which was launched in Buswells today and is calling for a large public rally at lunchtime at Leinster House on October 3rd. Today’s launch was very well attended and saw representatives from most sectors of Irish society from grassroots housing action groups, unions (including the Union of Students of Ireland), charities, political parties, the National Women’s Council and others. It demonstrated the great interest in addressing the escalating housing crisis which has a devastating human cost (as Niamh Randall, spokesperson for the Simon Communities of Ireland pointed out).