Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - National Association of Tenants Organisations.

Tuesday, 7 February 1989

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 386 No. 7

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[1437]8.

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  asked the Minister for the Environment in respect of the National Association of Tenants Organisations, the number of meetings which he or his Department have had with them in 1988; the approximate duration of each meeting; the items which were discussed at each meeting; the conclusions which were reached at each meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Mr. Flynn: Information on Pádraig Flynn  Zoom on Pádraig Flynn  Last year, there were four meetings between the association and my Department. The discussions involved a number of matters which affect local authority tenants and tenant purchasers. In view of the agreement by both sides not to comment on these matters until the conclusion of discussions, it would not be appropriate for me to give details at this stage.

Mr. Bell: Information on Michael Bell  Zoom on Michael Bell  Could I ask the Minister——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I am sorry, Deputy, but I am calling on the Deputy who tabled the question and who is offering, Deputy Higgins.

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  In my question I asked the Minister to outline the duration of each meeting — the dates are also important — but would the Minister say if ground rents were discussed at these meetings?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  That is an extension of the question.

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  I very clearly asked the Minister to outline the items that were discussed at each meeting. The Minister in his reply said he could not outline what the agendas were. All I am asking is for the Minister to say whether the abolition of ground rents was discussed?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  That is a very specific matter, Deputy.

[1438]Mr. Flynn: Information on Pádraig Flynn  Zoom on Pádraig Flynn  What the Deputy wanted to find out was how many meetings were held.

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  The dates.

Mr. Flynn: Information on Pádraig Flynn  Zoom on Pádraig Flynn  The Deputy did not ask for them.

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  What I did ask for was the duration of the meetings. The Minister has decided that he is not going to outline what items were discussed even though they might be of interest to the Members of this House. I asked the Minister if he would make a statement on the matter and I can assure the Minister my supplementary questions are aimed at facilitating the Minister.

Mr. Flynn: Information on Pádraig Flynn  Zoom on Pádraig Flynn  I was present at two of the meetings. I understand that four meetings were held. There was also a special meeting held between the local authorities and the organisation which took place on 12 January. The major issues discussed were the sale of flats — which I referred to earlier and on which submissions were made — rents, and the tenant purchase scheme, along with all other relevant matters.

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Can the Minister tell us when the last meeting took place and when the next meeting is scheduled for?

Mr. Flynn: Information on Pádraig Flynn  Zoom on Pádraig Flynn  The last meeting was held on 5 December 1988 and another meeting will take place in the near future.

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Am I correct in saying that it has been agreed by both parties that no statement on the content of these discussions will be issued?

Mr. Flynn: Information on Pádraig Flynn  Zoom on Pádraig Flynn  I am sorry but I may have misled the Deputy. Some matters were discussed in detail on 11 February 1988. Another meeting took place on 5 December 1988. As I said, it has been agreed by both parties that until such time as the discussions are concluded no statement will be issued by either side.

[1439]Mr. Bell: Information on Michael Bell  Zoom on Michael Bell  In relation to the discussions which took place between NATO and the Minister and the officials of his Department, would the Minister say if he now recognises that NATO are the official representative body for the tenants of local authority housing?

Mr. Flynn: Information on Pádraig Flynn  Zoom on Pádraig Flynn  As I said, it has been agreed by both parties that no statement will be issued on the matters discussed. I will not go any further than that at this stage because if I were to do so I would be breaking that agreement with them. They made submissions on all related matters.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Would the Minister not agree that it is extraordinary that matters which are of concern to the Members of this House cannot be discussed, and would he not take another look at the question he was specifically asked? In his reply to the question he deliberately chose not to answer two of the sub-components. Would he not agree that that amounts to an unsatisfactory parliamentary response?

Mr. Flynn: Information on Pádraig Flynn  Zoom on Pádraig Flynn  I would go some of the way with the Deputy in respect of that matter. I am only trying to oblige the other side who asked that no public statements be made on the matter. I do not know the exact reasons why they wish to pursue that line but I have no problem in discussing any of the matters raised with the Members of this House but the association did ask and it was agreed by both sides that there would be no public statements until the discussions were concluded.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Forever and a day.

Mr. Flynn: Information on Pádraig Flynn  Zoom on Pádraig Flynn  Not at all. As I said, no public statements will be made until the discussions are concluded.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  We must deal with the next question.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Would the Minister not agree that his reply, no matter how eloquently delivered, was highly evasive? [1440] He referred to meetings that took place four or five months ago — one took place 12 months ago — and the conclusions were not of an earth shattering content that they cannot now be revealed to the House. He is refusing to give legitimate and reasonable information to this House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy is making a statement. I am calling Question No. 9.

Mr. Flynn: Information on Pádraig Flynn  Zoom on Pádraig Flynn  I have no difficulty in discussing any of the matters raised. Indeed, I gave some indication of what items were discussed.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  The Minister authorised the reply.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Chair has called the next question.

Mr. Flynn: Information on Pádraig Flynn  Zoom on Pádraig Flynn  An agreement was reached between the officials of the Department and the organisation that no detailed public statements would be made until the discussions were concluded. Can the Deputy not accept that?

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  As long as the Chair protects our rights to put down questions and such insider arrangements made by the Minister would not preclude my right to put down questions.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Chair will see to that Deputy.

Mr. Flynn: Information on Pádraig Flynn  Zoom on Pádraig Flynn  The reference to insider arrangements is hardly appropriate in this case, as the good Deputy has plenty of access to the other side of the argument.


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