Private Members’ Business - Housing Developments: Motion (Resumed).

Wednesday, 23 November 2005

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 610 No. 148

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The following motion was moved by Deputy Gilmore on Tuesday, 22 November 2005:

—to issue, under section 29 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, policy directives:

—requiring all planning authorities to insist that all new housing developments are designed, constructed and completed to ‘taking in charge’ standards; and

—specifying that planning permissions for the development of houses (as distinct from apartments) should not require or allow for the establishment of management companies;

—to issue guidelines to planning authorities specifying the limited circumstances, mainly apartment developments, where management companies may be permitted, and in respect of those permissions, to set down those [1634]services including where possible, all roads, public open spaces, public lighting and water and sewage services which should be completed to ‘taking in charge’ standards, and which should be taken in charge by the local authority;

—to introduce new legislation which will:

—regulate the operation of management companies;

—give consumer protection to homebuyers, including the regulation of management charges;

—reinforce section 180 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, to the effect that a development which is or has been the subject of a ‘management company’ condition, may be taken in charge by a local authority where a majority of the qualified electors who own or occupy the houses in question, so consent; and

—provide for the winding-up of management companies.

Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:

“—recognising the importance of well-planned and well-designed residential development, commends the Government’s commitment to promoting sustainable communities which:

—offer choice to householders across a wide range of accommodation options;

—embody high quality urban design which is also environmentally progressive and energy efficient; and

—provide a wide range of services and amenities for the community, and are focused on locations that capitalise on recent and planned transport improvements as set out in Transport 21, published recently by the Government;

—notes that a Law Reform Commission working group is currently examining a range of legal issues in relation to the importance of effective management arrangements for multi-unit structures and that the Government will consider recommendations of the group’s final report including the need for any new legislation to regulate management companies;

—notes that the supply of housing has been greatly increased since 1997 and that almost 77,000 units were completed in 2004 which was double the level achieved in 1997 and that 21% of housing units built in 2004 were apartments [1635]and that apartments constituted 68% of the housing units built in Dublin City in 2004, and 42% of the units built in the Dublin area;

—recalls the provisions in the Planning and Development Act 2000 whereby planning authorities must initiate the taking in charge of housing estates when requested to do so by the majority of the residents who are qualified electors, or by the developer;

—notes the strong provisions in the Planning and Development Act 2000 which require the completion of estates by developers, including the provision whereby the developer can be required to give adequate security for the completion of the development and the strengthened provisions in relation to enforcement of planning conditions;

—notes that the Planning and Development Act 2000 recognised that management companies may be required, in appropriate circumstances, to provide for the maintenance of multi-unit structures, for the communal benefit of all residents;

—notes that in accordance with long-standing policy the application of conditions to a planning permission should in all cases be necessary, relevant to planning and to the development, enforceable, precise and reasonable, and that planning authorities must operate in accordance with these principles; and

—welcomes the fact that as a result of the increase of 6% in the Exchequer contribution to the local government fund, as provided for in the Abridged Estimates published last week, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government will be in a position to build on the Government’s strong record of strengthening the financial position of local authorities thereby empowering them to continue to improve the quality and range of services they provide to all their customers.”

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr. B. O’Keeffe): Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  I wish to share time with Deputies Nolan, McGuinness, Haughey and Fitzpatrick.

Acting Chairman:  That is agreed.

  [1636]7 o’clock

Mr. B. O’Keeffe: Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  It has been said that this debate on management companies is taking place in the context of tremendous increase in the construction of homes in recent years. The fact that apartment complex management has become the subject of such attention is partly a result of the huge increase in apartment development in recent years. Apartments accounted for 22% of residential units built in 2004. Almost 70% of residential units built in Dublin in 2004 were apartments.

This is part of the bigger story about Ireland’s incredible housing boom. The achievements we have seen in the housing construction industry in the past decade or so are nothing short of phenomenal. We have had rates of house building not seen elsewhere in Europe. Over the past ten years nearly half a million new housing units have been built, which means that three out of every ten homes have been built within the last ten years. Almost 77,000 units were completed in 2004, an extraordinary figure, which is double the level achieved in 1997.

The Government has successfully promoted a range of measures to boost the overall supply of housing, to modernise and develop the private rented sector and provide a range of well targeted schemes to meet the needs of those who cannot afford accommodation in the private sector. As a result, we have seen record levels of housing output in recent years while social housing outputs have reached levels not seen for more than a generation.

A range of targeted schemes has been put in place to assist first-time buyers in recent years. These include the shared ownership scheme, the 1999 affordable housing scheme, affordable housing through Part V of the Planning and Development Acts 2000 to 2004 and the affordable housing initiative in Sustaining Progress. Record levels of funding are being allocated to local authorities for their housing programmes in 2005 and a major programme of regeneration and remedial works is currently under way.

Ireland has seen enormous growth in the development of apartment block living over the past ten years or so. Apartments have great advantages particularly in ensuring public transport and other public facilities in urban areas are viable. At the same time, the increase in the numbers of apartments force us to face different problems of ownership and co-operation between home owners.

It must be acknowledged that management companies have an important role in dealing with the ongoing maintenance of apartment blocks and other high density developments which have shared facilities. They are necessary to deal with management and maintenance of apartment complexes because of the extent of shared or communal elements involved. These range from corridors and lifts, to pipes and cables for services, the roof and structure of the building and outside areas such as car parks and open spaces. While [1637]in the case of a traditional house, the owner or occupant has to deal with maintenance, repair, insurance and so forth, these functions must also be carried out in apartment complexes. It is more complicated because of the number of individual owners and the fact they share many of the facilities. Therefore, the management company in an apartment complex must carry out many of the roles played by the individual owner in a traditional house.

The Planning and Development Act 2000 allows planning authorities to attach conditions to planning permissions, including conditions regarding the setting up of management companies. It is a matter for planning authorities to use these powers appropriately. Individual planning authorities must make their own judgment, based on local circumstances and policies, about how and to what extent to use them in particular cases. However, it should be noted that the existence of a management company does not relieve local authorities of their responsibilities in providing basic services such as water and waste water services. Nor does it relieve developers of their responsibilities to finish developments satisfactorily. If, as has been alleged, developers are trying to transfer the cost of finishing the services in estates to the purchasers, on top of the purchase price, that is unacceptable.

As the Minister said yesterday, the Planning and Development Act contains strong provisions regarding the completion of estates by developers. First, the general enforcement powers in relation to developments which are not completed in accordance with the terms of the permission have been strengthened and tightened. One instance is that planning authorities are now obliged to follow up genuine complaints about breaches of planning control within a given timeframe. Another is that planning authorities can refuse to grant planning permission, subject to the consent of the High Court, to any developer who has seriously failed to comply with a previous permission. Second, the Planning and Development Act gives a specific power to planning authorities to attach a condition to the permission requiring the developer to give adequate security, before commencing the development, to ensure the estate is properly finished in accordance with the terms of the planning permission.

The Planning and Development Act 2000 is also clear on the question of the taking in charge of estates. Section 180 provides that the planning authority must, if requested to do so by the developer or by the majority of the qualified electors who are owners or occupiers of the houses involved, initiate the procedures in section 11 of the Roads Act 1993 for declaring the roads to be public roads, for whose maintenance the local authority will then be responsible. With the roads goes the responsibility for water and waste water pipes, pavements and so on.

[1638]Mr. Nolan: Information on M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  We have all learnt from the experience of developers particularly in the 1980s and early 1990s when the economy was starting to take off. At that time many housing estates were left in an inadequate state of repair by developers, and householders in the main found that roads were not completed, public lighting was not to the standard required and they had problems with waste water and sewerage facilities. Therefore, the tabling of this motion is timely.

I was pleased to hear the Minister of State say that under section 180 of the 2000 Act which deals with the taking in charge of estates obligations are placed on developers and that is only right. In the past too many cowboys, so to speak, have left estates unfinished, moved on and applied for another planning permission which was granted. Under the Planning and Development Act 2000, local authorities and planning offices can insist that where a developer has not completed a previous development to the standards requested by that local authority, further permission can be refused with the consent of the High Court.

While some people may be of the view that apartment blocks are the preserve of the larger urban areas of Dublin, Cork, Waterford and Limerick, most county towns have seen a large increase in the number of apartment blocks being completed. Planning applications currently on hand suggest this is the way housing developments are proceeding. Management companies are necessary to deal with the management and maintenance of apartment complexes because of the extent of shared elements involved. It would be unfair if the Government did not address this issue through local authorities.

From time to time, every householder must meet the cost of routine maintenance, be it for repairs or refurbishment, as well as insurance and some level of security. For too long when an estate or apartment block has been completed it was taken in charge by a local authority which was landed with the responsibility of looking after the routine maintenance of the properties. In the case of an apartment complex, the management company must make financial provision for the maintenance of corridors, lifts and roofs, which appear to be a major cause of concern to many apartment owners. Obviously, management fees should be reasonable but they must also be sufficient to provide against possible future costs. In some instances when costs have arisen, management charges have been increased steeply because insufficient funds have been put aside. As apartment blocks get older, the cost of maintenance increases.

Because of the importance of having a system of collective management in operation in apartment complexes, apartment buyers are legally obliged through the conveyancing process to become members of management companies and to pay the appropriate rate. It is interesting when we live in a time of record house building — more [1639]than 70,000 units were completed last year and somewhere in the order of 75,000 units were completed this year — that this motion should come before us. Local authorities in particular are concerned about their exposure when they take housing estates and apartment complexes in charge. Sometimes the bonds entered into by developers in negotiations for planning permission do not cover the costs involved and individual apartment and household owners have to dip into their pockets again to pay the cost of repairs. This happens, in particular, in cases where developers get planning permission but sit on it for a couple of years before commencing the development. In the meantime, the cost of construction has increased to such an extent that the bond provided is insufficient. It is not good enough to simply put the onus on local authorities. The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has a responsibility and I note it is being lobbied by local authorities in this regard.

Mr. McGuinness: Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  I refer to the role of local authorities and local authority members in regard to this matter. We need to look at this matter in the context of the general development within the country and the move we have seen over a very short period from the traditional style house and housing estates to a mixture of large blocks of apartments and housing units close by, usually townhouses with greater density than is normally the case. In rural areas we have seen small villages and towns outnumbered by the new houses being constructed. That has happened generally throughout County Kilkenny. Most, if not all, of these planning applications have been granted in the usual way with the clauses one would expect. However, in recent times, I have seen a difference in policy between neighbouring counties. There is no consistency across the country in the approach to the granting of permission and the control of these estates in the planning process.

In my experience, the management companies that have emerged deal with the upkeep of large blocks of apartments, as distinct from housing estates. The management companies in housing estates are not what is described in the context of legislation, which refers to those management companies that deal with large apartments. Management companies are absolutely necessary in the context of large apartment complexes. However, I am concerned that the management fee can be constantly increased. I hope the Law Reform Commission can examine this aspect of the matter. What was initially a reasonable fee can in time become a substantial amount of money. If we can legislate on management companies and put a control on how fees can be increased on a year-to-year basis we would be doing something constructive. Perhaps this is something the Law Reform Commission would [1640]examine and on which it would make recommendations.

In general, I regret that we no longer have a role in the planning process. In some ways that is to be welcomed but there is an issue in regard to the policy surrounding county development plans and the engineers’ interpretation of those plans. In the context of those plans, we should ensure they contain statements that deal with all of the issues that concern us, that are being highlighted in the motion before us. Public representatives have a role to play in highlighting this issue at local level and ensuring it is dealt with in the context of those plans. When we debate the loss of powers for local public representatives we should bear in mind that they can exert their power, ask for a role to play and insist on issues like this being dealt with in the context of local development plans.

In taking over estates in my local area, management companies have been involved in a useful exercise with the local branch of the Construction Industry Federation, CIF. For many years the reliance on bonds from building contractors has caused difficulties as bonds are rarely called in. Arguments continue with local government officials and those who live in housing estates to get their estates completed in the first place. The process is now becoming more organised which has made it easier for estates to be taken over. There is a need to strengthen that process. It is within the remit of county managers and public representatives to come together with those in the construction industry to strike a deal that will look after the interests, not only of good planning within council areas but also the interests of the residents involved in those estates. This is a huge issue. No single rule applies consistently across the country. The matter should be reviewed and, if necessary, the issues that arise from the review should be legislated for to bring about a consistent approach.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  There has been extensive house building in the State in recent years. Apartments now account for 41% of planning permission for housing throughout the State. In the case of Dublin, this figure rises to 74%. By any standards this is a fundamental change for society, one to which we as policy makers must respond.

This is a new issue. I thank Deputy Gilmore for raising it in the House this evening and last night. Planning authorities operate under the 1999 guidelines on residential density. It is obvious that higher residential densities must be promoted in appropriate locations. The phrase, “appropriate locations” is critical. I worry that the number of high density apartment developments being sanctioned in older traditional areas of the city is now threatening the sustainability of these suburban communities. I am not sure the Dublin city development plan adopted this year has addressed this issue in any comprehensive way.

[1641]The 1999 guidelines provide that, in promoting higher densities, emphasis must be placed by planning authorities on the importance of high quality standards in regard to design and layout in order to ensure the highest quality of residential environment is achieved. The guidelines state that the overriding concern should be the quality of the proposed residential environment and that higher densities are only acceptable if a range of criteria are satisfied. These include the size of the site, its proximity to ancillary facilities and quality public transport, the quality of the lay-out proposed, the mix of dwelling types, the provision of appropriate social and community facilities, the quality of the open space and amenity provision and pedestrian linkages, levels of privacy, traffic safety, access to local facilities and whether the needs of children, the elderly and the disabled have been taken into account.

The guidelines recognise in particular that the private spaces of every dwelling should enjoy freedom from undue observation and that no undue loss of light should be caused by adjoining higher buildings. More generally, the guidelines provide that in residential areas of an established character, the design approach should recognise the need to protect the amenities of directly adjoining neighbours and the general character of the area and its amenities. The time has come to review the implementation of these guidelines in the interests of our built heritage and community life. Dublin City Council does not take those criteria fully into account.

Mr. Tom Dunne, the chairman of the Private Residential Tenancies Board, recently highlighted another aspect of this problem. He stated that failure to maintain the large number of apartment blocks built in recent years could lead to a serious deterioration in the quality of the urban fabric of our cities. Such apartment blocks require long-term maintenance and this requires money. Occupiers must pay for this. That is why management companies are so important. Management companies must be regulated, perhaps through a State licensing system. Such regulation must deal with issues such as qualifications of agents and auditing of accounts.

The poor quality of design of many new apartment schemes is another issue and it is manifested in many ways. An alarm clock going off in one apartment will almost certainly wake up the residents next door. The Building Control Act 1990 provides for making national building regulations. Parts A to M must be reviewed now to address the serious complaints of today’s apartment dwellers. The 2002 energy performance of buildings directive is in place. It involves the introduction of building energy ratings for new buildings and existing buildings when they are being sold, let or re-let. I welcome the introduction of such energy rating listings.

Members are aware that planning authorities make it a condition of planning permission that management companies be formed to administer [1642]new private housing schemes. The practice must be investigated urgently. It would seem on the face of it that local authorities are abdicating their responsibilities on service provision to save money. I welcome moves by the Minister to examine the practice of each local authority and the fact that the Law Reform Commission working group is investigating the matter.

Dr. Fitzpatrick: Information on Dermot Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Dermot Fitzpatrick  I thank my colleagues for sharing their time with me. I agree with the thrust of this motion and it is a timely one before the House. I have seen the effects of massive overdevelopment in my area. I have also seen where development levies paid to local councils are not spent as they should be or are not spent soon enough.

I have seen estates developed around, but unconnected to, what were up to five years ago villages to the north of Dublin city. I was in such a village recently and I saw parents pushing buggies and prams while using the main road to return to their estate, trying to keep their places with traffic. Lorries and cars passed them at speed, with no regard for anyone else on the road. If an estate is built near a village, infrastructure such as footpaths and cycle lanes should be put in place initially along with the water mains, electricity and sewerage. To build an estate and leave it unconnected with its main shopping area is scandalous.

We are discussing management companies as well as development companies. My constituency has seen the highest density in the country of apartment block development. When it first started I was delighted because slums were being cleared. Apartment blocks were built on property that had remained derelict for 30 or 40 years. However, I began to realise that nobody was there at weekends. Where many apartment blocks are built along a street, such as Brunswick Street in my constituency, it is dark at night apart from street lighting. Nobody is there at weekends. They are built for single people or couples. No thought is given to family friendly apartment blocks.

Dublin City Council tells us we need higher densities to accommodate much more people. What type of people are we accommodating? Is there any room for a couple with two or three children? They are built without playgrounds, facilities or crèches. We are taking an extremely narrow view on development. That is the case in my area. I am afraid we are developer-led. One cannot tar them all with the same brush and some developers are good. However, the bottom line for anyone in the business is the financial return. Reading the paper, one sees enormous prices paid per acre for land. When one considers the density required or sought, one realises the profits are way out of line with what we are used to. We are not taking a hard look at what the future holds. I realise I cannot foresee the future. However, I suspect the slums of the future are [1643]being built today in certain areas in my constituency.

The finish is another matter not given consideration. The area I represent is mainly red brick. The houses are durable and many of them have been there for more than 100 years. They are capable of being revamped and gutted to bring them up to modern standards. When I was a member of the former Dublin Corporation and these developments took place, the developer always chose a render finish on the outside, perhaps with a small amount of brick. One may think this is a small point but it is not. Cement render does not stand the test of time. It collects dirt from the atmosphere. Developments that went up ten or 15 years ago in my constituency had either render finish or wood finish. Now they leave much to be desired. I speak as someone from Dublin city centre and these are the problems we face. Rural and suburban Ireland have other problems. These are the issues I see arising. We must impress on local authorities that we need higher standards, we must look to the future and there is no point in building rabbit hutches or chicken runs. We are trying to accommodate human beings with a future and families to bring up in a family friendly environment.

Mr. Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  I wish to share time with Deputies Cuffe, Catherine Murphy, McHugh and Joe Higgins.

The last speaker made an interesting contribution. It is unfortunate he has left. The first part of it was frank and to the point. I wonder if the Opposition will gain one extra vote from that Deputy.

Mr. McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  Deputy Morgan should not die wondering.

Mr. Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  I am sure we will hear more of this closer to the election.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on this issue and I support the general thrust of the Labour Party motion. The increasing prevalence of management companies as an alternative to local authorities taking charge of housing developments is causing significant difficulties to householders. The Government is failing to tackle this problem.

On a number of occasions my party has raised the need to regulate the operations of management companies, particularly in the case of apartment complexes where, unlike housing developments, they are likely to remain a feature long into the future because of the issue of communal space. I hope the Minister will heed recommendations of the Law Reform Commission when it concludes its consideration of legislation in respect of multi-unit structures.

The legislation has become outdated and has not kept pace with changes in the patterns of housing developments or increased deviousness [1644]of greedy developers. This issue has been brought to my attention by a number of Sinn Féin councillors and public representatives in Dublin. In particular, Felix Gallagher of Fingal County Council has raised the matter of Tyrellstown, Dublin 15. I attempted to raise this matter in the House for Councillor Gallagher and asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to investigate the collapse of the estate management company, O’Donovan Property Management Limited.

Residents who paid a cumulative total of €60,000 to O’Donovan Property Management Limited are facing demands for payment in advance from a new management company, Smith Property Management, for work that was meant to be completed by O’Donovan Property Management Limited. This has escalated to the point where a number of residents are facing potential legal action. This case illustrates the difficulties that can arise in the absence of legislation to regulate the operations of management companies.

I refer to section 180 of the Planning and Development Act 2000. Last night, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government stated: “Under section 180 of the Planning and Development Act, local authorities are obliged to take in charge the public services of housing estates, once completed to a satisfactory standard, where requested to do so by a majority of the residents of the housing development, or by the developer”. Is the Minister satisfied this section is performing as it was intended to do? From instances brought to my attention I must conclude it is not being enforced or it is deficient.

There is evidence developers are evading provisions of section 180 by delaying the completion of works as a tactic to maintain control of developments through their management companies. Some developers will complete the majority of work to have the local authority return bonds they have given. They will delay completing work where the smallest bonds have been given. Has the Minister considered introducing amendments to this legislation to insert timeframes within which developers are obliged to complete work necessary to bring development to the status where it can be taken in charge?

There is nothing in the Minister’s contribution, or the Government amendment, to suggest they intend to address the problems increasingly affecting homeowners in new housing developments across the State.

Mr. Cuffe: Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  I compliment the Labour Party on its motion before the House and I treat the Government amendment with the contempt I believe it deserves. There is a real danger in privatising what should be public space. In the rushed frenzy to create a new Ireland of high density buildings, there is a danger we do not get the [1645]design quality, finish and attention to detail needed.

Housing developed by local authorities and the private sector 50, 60 or 70 years ago consisted of carefully designed buildings and well considered public space. Examples include Cabra, Drimnagh and other well-planned estates in Dublin. These put people and children first, allowing a parent to stand at the door and call a child in for tea. That does not happen anymore, when the car is king and people are pawns in the planning equation.

New private housing estates have a sea of car parking but no space for children to play. We are left with wedges of green space and chunks of cobble lock and tarmacadam, without adequate consideration to how resultant space can be maintained, managed and financed. It is crucial local authorities take greater control over this process and planning authorities, including An Bord Pleanála, put more guidance into new developments. We must pay attention that a developer will complete the works he or she has guaranteed as a condition of planning permission. We must ensure that owners or tenants have a meaningful role in that management. We should be careful of the privatised model; first an estate is gated, then guarded and finally ghettoised.

We need more local area plans under the Planning and Development Act 2000 although I am not convinced these plans pay attention to the needs. We can be sure that developers, jumped-up muck savages used to building dog houses and now building high-rise apartments, are not giving these schemes the attention to detail they deserve. We must insist on high quality in these new developments and I am not convinced the average standard is high enough.

There is deafening silence from the Government on detailed criteria and guidelines for these new developments. High density guidelines date from five years ago but there is no recent pronouncement on the issue and we are not getting the quality we need. I was delighted to see An Bord Pleanála reject a 17-storey block next to two-storey housing in Sandyford. We need a mix in housing developments but this is too high a cost to pay.

We need to see a mix of housing in new developments. Major attention must be paid to outdoor space so that older people can feel safe and younger children can play without too much concern for safety. We need to provide a mix of housing to the very old, who are at risk of being consigned to the lashed crosses of this world, and the very young, equally at risk of being sidelined by the housing process. It is crucial we do not privatise public space and that we have high quality design. I intend to support this motion, with my party colleagues.

Ms C. Murphy: Information on Catherine Murphy  Zoom on Catherine Murphy  I welcome the opportunity to debate this issue, about which I have been concerned for some time. I raised this matter on the Adjournment on 29 September and received a [1646]reply from the Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Noel Ahern, confirming that the practice of insisting on mandatory management companies as a planning condition for housing estates had no legal basis. When I tabled a priority question on 25 October, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Roche, was categoric. My expectation was that the practice would be stopped for future developments as there was no legal basis for such conditions. I welcomed that and a survey of planning practice by the local authorities that followed.

My concerns are for those caught in the trap because they have signed contracts, for the taking in charge of estates and for legislation surrounding apartments.

If there is no legal basis for this and it can be stopped for new developments, how is it enforceable for those who are currently caught in the mandatory membership trap? My understanding is that contract law in this country states that one cannot contract outside of the law, so if there is no legal basis for this, how can it be enforced? The dominoes have begun to fall on this subject and I can foresee a situation where an unenforceable condition will produce problems, whereby estates are abandoned by developers and one neighbour pays management company fees while another is dragged through the courts for refusing to do so. I do not need to write the script. This is all avoidable but it requires a commitment by the Minister and the Government to tackle the retrospective issue. I urge the Minister to seek advice from the Attorney General on the matter because it needs to be tackled.

On the issue of taking estates in charge, section 180 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 allows electors in a housing estate to petition to have an estate taken in charge. However, when one reads the details, that can only occur after seven years and the clock only starts ticking after the five year planning permission period has run out. That is 12 years in total, so in reality, having an estate taken in charge takes much longer than five years. Furthermore, it can only occur if enforcement proceedings have not commenced. Does the Minister really expect local authorities to take an unfinished estate in charge if they can avoid doing so by issuing enforcement proceedings? I have seen enforcement proceedings commence and then disappear on countless occasions. Perhaps I have come to be cynical from watching this issue so closely.

I have a list from County Kildare which shows the total number of houses on the so-called “for taking in charge” list. The most recent list is for 2002, but the situation has worsened since then. There are 19,000 houses in Kildare on that list. I do not know what the figure is nationally. Some housing estates have been described by the council as “abandoned”, some are over 30 years old while some are reasonably new. The construc[1647]tion industry has not covered itself in glory in this matter. Most estates do not have management companies, but even where they exist it is likely the estates will simply be added to the end of the “for taking in charge” list. Existing law falls down badly on the enforcement side. I tabled a parliamentary question seeking a survey of the situation nationally, which the Minister refused to conduct. Can that be reconsidered and some targets for progress on the matter put in place?

Everyone accepts that apartments require some element of management of shared spaces but this should not include areas outside of the sites, such as public roads, sewers or the water mains. Urgent legislation is needed in that area and we need a timeframe from the Government on when it will be initiated.

Mr. McHugh: Information on Paddy McHugh  Zoom on Paddy McHugh  I thank the Labour Party for tabling this motion for debate and I thank my colleague in the Technical Group, Deputy Joe Higgins from the Socialist Party, for the work he has done on this issue. Most especially, I thank my Independent colleague, Deputy Catherine Murphy, for pursuing this issue with vigour since she was elected to this House. Her efforts have succeeded in bringing the matter to the forefront and it is now receiving the attention it deserves.

It is gratifying to see how the political parties keep the work of Independent Deputies under review and to see how the Labour Party, in this instance, has taken its lead from the Independents.

The reluctance of local authorities, with the imprimatur of the Government and the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, to take in charge housing estates has led to the situation we are in today. Local authorities no longer feel an obligation to take estates in charge but rather feel quite justified in imposing conditions on planning permission requiring management companies to be set up, with the result that individuals struggling with mortgage repayments and service charges are also burdened with the costs associated with such companies. This situation is a cop-out on the part of the local authorities and the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and is being abused by developers. There is only one way to deal with this. The local authorities must ensure that estates are constructed in compliance with planning permission, building regulations and to an overall high standard of construction. When estates are completed, the authorities must take the developments in charge, either at the request of the developer or the residents.

Unfinished housing estates are a blight throughout Ireland. They are the cause of major hassle for residents, who feel totally powerless to better their lot when faced with the stubborn resistance of ruthless builders who have no conscience when it comes to living up to their obli[1648]gations. Estates which are supposedly complete, but not to an acceptable standard, are also a blight and can cause grief for residents. If we had a properly resourced policing system, we would eliminate all of this hassle. Residents are entitled to be protected by legislation. We have legislation on the Statute Book which could eliminate many of the problems but unfortunately, the local authorities are not properly resourced to implement the terms of the most recent building control regulations. This scandal should be rectified now. It should also be a priority for the Minister to immediately instruct local authorities to use their resources wisely and prudently in the limited number of inspections they are currently carrying out. It is absolutely nauseating to see local authority personnel abuse their position in hounding young couples who, for example, do not have the money to provide a parking area outside their dwelling, as per the conditions of the planning permission, while at the same time, big developers get away with totally unfinished estates. The incident with the young couple to which I referred came about because an employee of the local authority had a disagreement with them.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  I welcome and support the Labour Party motion. It echoes the position that I have been putting forward in the Dáil and the position that the Socialist Party in Fingal County Council has been strongly advocating for over a year. Unfortunately, Labour Party councillors in Fingal were, up to now, not very supportive but I have no doubt that the spokesperson for the party on local government and the environment will brief the councillors thoroughly on the contents and the import of this motion and that they will adopt a much firmer and better position from now on.

The management company setup is a scam by which developers evade the costs they would have hitherto borne for finishing off estates and maintaining them to some degree until they were officially handed over the local authority. It is also, following the handover to the residents, which is what is envisaged, a blatant privatisation of services.

When I have raised this issue with the Government and the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, as recently as yesterday, I have been met with generalities. The Government says it is opposed but in west Dublin, Meath, Kildare and other areas, thousands of householders are faced with enormous bills, at the very time they are vulnerable to large mortgage payments, child care costs and so on, imposed first by the developers who control the management companies and later by local authorities which insist that the services be privatised. The management companies are controlled for several years by the developers who are demanding annual fees from the same householders from whom they have made a massive profit in the sale of those houses.

[1649]The level of the scam is shown by the home development in Tyrrellstown in west Dublin in 2000, where the budget for 2006 provides for total management fees of €355,000, of which administration costs are proposed to be €119,000, one third of the total. A further €19,000 is to be demanded, on top of the total, for public liability insurance. So, if somebody falls in the main thoroughfare, rather than the local authority having to answer, it is householders in the estate who will be called upon to pay. Clearly, even in the worst days, the Taca days of the 1960s, the mohair suits who supported Fianna Fáil at that time would not even have dreamt of such a scam.

Twenty householders will be dragged to court by these same developers, masquerading as management companies on foot of civil process in January. What words of comfort can the Government offer to them and the thousands who are stuck with this development? What does the Minister have to say in this regard? Will he ask the developers to pull back, the local authorities to end this immediately and take those householders out of the stress they are suffering?

Fine Gael has said nothing on the wider issue of the application of management companies in housing estates. I warn Fianna Fáil, the Progressive Democrats and Fine Gael on this issue — it is only beginning. It will be a major issue in crucial constituencies in the election and they had better get their act together on it and stand with the hard-pressed householders, mortgage payers, working people and PAYE people and resolve it forthwith.

Mr. Penrose: Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this debate and compliment my colleague Deputy Gilmore, the Labour party spokesperson on the environment and local government, on tabling this motion. We are delighted with the support we are receiving.

Acting Chairman (Mr. McCormack): Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  Is the Deputy sharing time?

Mr. Penrose: Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  I am sharing with Deputy Upton.

Deputy Gilmore made the interesting point that domestic rates were abolished in 1977. Now we are getting rates back under another name, an imposition in the form of management charges for housing estates and apartment blocks. I will not go into the nitty gritty of this because Deputy Upton has some interesting cases to reveal on this matter and I will not trespass on her ground. The charges are paid to private management companies often owned or controlled by the same developers who have crucified young people and put them to the pin of their collars to pay for houses.

Deputy Gilmore brought a Bill before the House on 8 March 2005 which was dear to the Labour Party. It might not go down so well with big supporters in the tent. We are not in a tent but rely on the €2 or €5 that people give us at the door of the local pub or for raffle tickets. The [1650]number of unfinished housing estates across this country is a scandal. Builders leave homes surrounded by rubble, litter and the remains of their work and do not complete essential aspects of the plans, such as footpaths and play areas. Young people get into hock to pay for those services but receive nothing. Not satisfied with the flesh off their bones the builders want the bone as well. I agree with Deputy Joe Higgins that it is a rush to privatisation and it is about time it was stopped.

I warn Members that in a month, people coming to Dublin from Mullingar and the midlands to work will pay €25 a week for the privilege of travelling on the road. If they have to go to the West Link it will cost €2,000 per year to line the pockets of the very wealthy. It is part of right-wing ideology to make people pay for everything regardless of whether they have the means. So much for Sustaining Progress.

Perhaps the workers will rebel and demand a decent wage. The Government will impose the wages to be paid by the employers and there will be a rebellion outside Kinnegad. What if somebody, rushing with a child from a hospital incomplete since 1997 and having to get to Dublin is required to pay a toll as well?

Acting Chairman: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  The Deputy is straying from the motion.

Mr. Penrose: Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  I have no time for this exercise in privatisation or for everything existing for the benefit of a few at the expense of many. Many estates where they charge this money are publicly owned and all services are provided by the local authorities. Developers grab their share of services for which people have paid their taxes. This is the essence of the problem and should provoke a rebellion because people have had enough. It is unbelievable that another €20 per week is imposed on people who are at their wits end. If the road ever reaches Mullingar, the local authority will not allow it and will make it part of the conditions for planning permission.

The Government has the power to prevent it by directing managers and local authority planning offices not to let it happen. Deputy Stagg and others gave examples and those people know what they are talking about. They are not fools and we should heed them. We should tighten up consumer legislation to ensure the protection of people instead of pussyfooting around in case we step on the toes of the next builder already laughing all the way to the bank. I remember the former Minister for Finance, Mr. McCreevy, saying it was a great idea to reduce capital gains tax. Apart from an increased flow to the Exchequer, he said it would release land into the system. If capital gains tax was 20% rather than 40%, the reduction would feed into the price of a house. It was an excuse, not a reason. Developers threw a big rope around it as if it were a haystack and gathered that in as well. I call it hay cart economics. They got the seeds as well as the hay.

[1651]Our job is to ensure local authorities are provided with the necessary finance to ensure officials are in a position to take estates in charge. Some of the statistics colleagues have given are frightening. In my county we have prevented this from happening, perhaps because we in the Labour Party are very vociferous at local level. We stepped up to the brink to ensure that the privatisation of services was not railroaded in on top of us. Those of us who come from simple and humble beginnings do not forget where we come from and we know who pays the piper. It is the unfortunate working class people.

When I was younger I thought only apartments had common areas and management charges but developers have prospered and decided to spread their wings into ordinary housing estates. Deputy Joe Higgins referred to 2,000 houses. It is an open cheque book. When people pay €250,000 for a house, they should not have to pay any more. Their eyes are out on sticks working every hour of the day and community spirit has disappeared.

That spirit characterised country areas like Celbridge, which I was glad to hear continues to have a sense of community, but it is very difficult to travel long distances, leave a child in a crèche at 7 a.m. and pay child care charges, which are a huge burden and bigger than a mortgage in some cases, then return in the evening to collect the child, have something to eat and, drained, go to bed. There is no opportunity to engage with neighbours or build community solidarity where people help each other out because there is no time. People would like the time but that is the society we have created. All we are doing is rubbing more grease into the fat pigs.

Developers already make plenty of money. There should be no opt-out to the condition that enables a council to take a charge. That is a primary function of a local authority. We must give local authorities enough money to put in place enforcement officers. Does the Minister know his Department has had more restrictions imposed on it by the Department of Finance? Local authorities cannot take on staff or even replace people who leave.

Developers of large projects must finish a job in full compliance with every planning condition. If an ordinary person wants a house, they must remove the front hedge and put up a gate but developers can get away with doing whatever they like. There are good developers and I know a number in Mullingar, but some do not finish estates, leave people in the lurch and expect the local authority to step in. If the House had adopted the Planning and Development Bill, and I do not know why it did not, it would have provided a remedy for people in the form of direct access to the courts and would have allowed local authorities to refuse planning permission for those who do not finish estates to specific conditions and in accordance with terms imposed on them. The onus would then be on the developer [1652]to go to court to prove the local authority was wrong not to grant planning. In the Planning and Development Act 2000 it is the other way round and people must endure the travails of the system before going to the High Court. It is a nonsense when somebody has deliberately and flagrantly breached the terms of a planning permission. Local authorities should do the job they are meant to do, which is taking in charge estates on behalf of the residents. It is a public service which should not be ceded to private individuals in the form of privatisation.

  8 o’clock

Dr. Upton: Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  I thank my colleague, Deputy Gilmore, for raising this issue in Private Members’ time. A number of aspects in the motion are of particular concern in my constituency and I want to address a couple of them specifically. They relate to the management of multi-unit dwellings or apartment blocks. This category of development differs from those mainly made up of houses in that it would not usually be envisaged that a local authority would take in charge the common areas of an apartment block or the private or public open space which surrounds it.

Nevertheless, the motion calls for the introduction of new legislation to give consumer protection to home-buyers, including the regulation of management charges. The motion also calls for new legislation to regulate the operation of management companies. Accordingly, I want to address these two specific issues which are of particular interest in my constituency where there is a large number of apartment blocks. Hardly a week goes by without one of my constituents, either a short-term tenant or a long-term leaseholder-owner of an apartment, contacting me about problems they must endure regarding the upkeep of the common part of their building. Again, rarely a week goes by without a constituent contacting me about the increasing cost and diminishing return in paying a management agent to manage the common parts of buildings containing apartments and the land which surrounds them.

For example, some of my constituents contacted me the other week to complain that the management agent of their block is seeking a 50% increase in the management fee that they demanded last year. My constituents are reluctant to pay this fee hike because the management company and the management agent have not maintained the building as they should. In the past year, plants have been left to die, the grass areas are completely overgrown, they have become infested with weeds, no window cleaning has been done and the bin housing has not been cleaned adequately, the consequence of which is that vermin is proliferating all over the place. They promised a 24-hour a day management service, which is a complete myth. This only came to light when the fire alarm went off twice so far this year, in the middle of the night and no one [1653]responded to the calls to turn it off. The gutters are blocked, the water overflows on to the residents’ balconies, which is the source of the stagnant water and the awful smell in the lift. It took the management company a year to unveil the problem but it still has not been addressed.

Recently I was in touch with another group of residents of an apartment block in my constituency who are suffering from a similar array of problems. The residents of these two developments have managed to use existing legislation to confront most of the difficulties they faced, and they managed to solve them. The question is what is wrong with the system if the problems can be solved using existing legislation. What is wrong is the expense and complexity of the solutions to these problems, which the residents of these two apartment blocks had been compelled to seek.

I will describe the lengths to which they had to go. First, they had to get a lot of expensive legal advice. Thereafter, the residents, having used existing company law to have the current directors removed from the management company, compelled the management company to provide access to the accounts. In one of the cases that was brought to my attention the management company in question had not even bothered to draft accounts. In this instance, the residents were compelled to contact the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement. They reported the management company’s failure to hold annual general meetings and its failure to draft accounts.

In another case, the residents had to contact the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement to report that the management company, which was controlled by the developer, had failed to consult the shareholders of the management company, in reality, the residents, on the draft accounts. In addition, and again after much work, residents of one of the apartment complexes have managed to appoint their own representatives, again using provisions within the Companies Act, as directors on the board of directors of the management company. Having done all this, the residents succeeded in firing the managing agent, who was awful, and they have appointed a managing agent who is considerably better.

However, what none of the residents who have been in contact with me succeeded in doing, using current legislation, is to force the developers to hand over ownership of the common parts to the residents. Even when resident-controlled management companies are maintaining the common parts of their apartment blocks, these companies are not always the legal owners of the areas they are maintaining and paying to maintain. The reality is that discovering and executing the solutions I have just described to the problems faced by the residents of apartment blocks in my constituency has required an enormous amount of work, a huge amount of money, a lot of patience and a vast degree of co-operation between the apartment owners.

[1654]We have an obligation as legislators, who are ultimately responsible for the legislation which provides the framework within which apartment developments are allowed, and their continued upkeep regulated, to provide a much easier means of resolving the problems the residents of apartment blocks constantly face. I would like, therefore, to outline some of the legislative solutions to the problems that apartment dwellers face. Deputy Penrose referred to some of these. First, planning permission should not be granted for an apartment building unless there is a condition attached to such a permission which compels developers of apartment blocks to form management companies and to grant shares in the company to all those who purchase units within it. Section 34(1) of the Planning and Development Act 2000 must be strengthened to include this specific stipulation.

Second, there must be a planning condition imposed on developers that they complete satisfactorily within a specified period an apartment complex, regardless of whether the development includes two or more houses. I recommend that section 34(f) of the Planning and Development Act should be amended accordingly. These are suggestions that would help from a legislative point of view.

Third, as soon as an apartment development is completed satisfactorily, ownership of the common parts must be handed over immediately to a management company. Too often my constituents tell me that developers are refusing ostensibly for one reason or another to hand over ownership of the common parts of an apartment complex. Suddenly, the developer applies for planning permission to add an extra storey to a block, and we then know the reason the developer was so reluctant in the first place to hand over ownership of the common parts.

The amending of section 180 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 would offer a mechanism for doing this. It would enable management companies, upon application to the court by a simple majority of individual property owners, that is, such an amendment must be drafted in such a way as to prevent a developer thwarting the desires of residents to take control of the common parts of their apartment complex, simply by retaining ownership of the apartments within that complex, to gain ownership of the common parts of the apartment complex.

Fourth, developers must not be allowed to take control of apartment complex management companies. In Britain, which has a much longer history of dealing with multi-unit apartment blocks, the solution which has emerged is the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002. In that Act, a right to manage was established which is vested in residents of multi-unit apartment blocks. To exercise that right, residents of buildings within two or more units do not even have to apply to the court. They simply have to serve notice to manage on the developer or the owner [1655]of the common parts of an apartment complex. The notice to manage provides that the residents concerned wish to manage the property instead of the freeholder or developer and they have the right to set up a right to manage company for the purpose of doing so.

To exercise this new right to manage, residents do not even have to say that the developer is mismanaging the property. However, if the property is being mismanaged, which is clearly the case in the examples I have given, the residents can apply to the court to have the developer’s interest in the property vested in the residents. In practice, the mere existence of this legislation on the Statute Book in the UK has led to a significant improvement in the conduct of managing agents, management companies and developers. Not for the first time has a parliament managed to change the behaviour of those subjected to its laws merely by providing an easy and cheap method of recourse to those wronged.

Together, these four legislative solutions could be provided by this House without much delay and they would have a profound impact on the lives of apartment dwellers throughout the country. I ask the House to support the motion.

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr. N. Ahern): Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  I welcome the opportunity to clarify some points that were made during the debate.

Deputy Gilmore spoke about section 180 of the 2000 Act, saying that local authorities were using it to refuse to take estates in charge when there is a management company in place.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I did not say that.

Mr. N. Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  As the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government made clear, in our opinion section 180 is clear. It does not refer to management companies.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  If the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government was as good at listening as he is at talking, the Minister of State might have got the story right.

Mr. N. Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  In our opinion the existence of a management company for a development should not override the legal obligation on developers to complete and maintain estates until they are taken in charge. We have heard that some local authorities have been attaching conditions beyond what is allowed by the law and we have commenced a survey to ascertain what is happening. It is not acceptable that this should be happening for traditional housing estates. Planning law should be applied in a consistent manner. We are researching what is happening.

Local councillors have some responsibility. Deputy Penrose said councillors have been vigil[1656]ant in Westmeath but that is the responsibility of every councillor on every council. Last night Deputy Stagg mentioned Kildare County Council and how it seems to have gone off on a tangent.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  One of the Government’s big supporters, Seán Dunne, came out to Kildare and brought it with him.

Mr. N. Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Councillors have a responsibility. Managers and management may try to lead at times.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  They are not leading, they have all the power. This Government gave it to them.

Mr. N. Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Councillors have a responsibility and, through the strategic policy committee system, they should exercise it.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Planning is an executive function.

Mr. N. Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  The councillors in Kildare will have an opportunity to do that and to shape things to a more satisfactory extent when the report of the sub-committee they have established comes back.

We cannot just walk away from this. We all have a responsibility to do what we must. The Law Reform Commission has been asked to provide a report on the legal issues relating to management companies and it would be premature to propose amendments to legislation at this stage. I hear what Deputy Upton says and will examine the points she makes, but when we have asked the Law Reform Commission to give us legal opinion on this, it would be our opinion that to move now would be premature. The Taoiseach and the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government have given a guarantee that as soon as the report is published by the Law Reform Commission, we will act on it.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  The Government will ignore it like it does every other report.

Mr. N. Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  We will not because we realise there are inconsistencies and the Kildare cases prove that.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Will the Government stop them in the meantime?

Mr. N. Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  We are carrying out a survey to see exactly what is happening. The law applies to us all. It is clear and should be applied. If people are trying to evade it, we should identify them and take appropriate action.

Apartment living is relatively new and we must adjust to it and get our laws in order. The Government has and will continue to take the necessary action. We have given local authorities the power to deal properly with housing estates and to take them in charge.

[1657]Going back to the Bill that was proposed last year, I hear what Deputy Penrose is saying. My regard for the legal profession might not be what it should be but the action we took in the original legislation was based on legal advice from the Office of the Attorney General. I may not always defend the legal profession but we cannot easily ignore such advice.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  The Government accepted the Bill.

Mr. N. Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  It must come back again before the House. The original legislation was based on legal advice that was difficult to ignore.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  The Bill passed Second Stage in the House.

Mr. N. Ahern: Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  When the Law Reform Commission report is completed, we will take whatever action is proposed. I agree that we must examine which local authorities and developers are trying to drive a coach and four through the rules. We must come together and take action when the report is published.

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  I am disappointed with what the Minister of State had to say. He is particularly familiar with Fingal County Council and he and I have discussed this issue with the manager some time ago.

The development of the affordable housing programme, especially in the Fingal County Council area, has given an opportunity to many people to acquire a home of their own and developments, particularly in areas such as Tyrellstown and Castlecurragh, have proved very popular. Many young couples, however, find that having acquired their dream home, there is a hidden clause in the deal — a management company to which they are signed up when they agree to buy the house.

This management company, typically in the direct charge of the developer, the developer’s brother or the foreman’s son, then proceeds to levy a charge ranging between €400 and €1,200 per household for keeping the estate in order. Many young couples are outraged to find that unbeknown to them, they have signed an apparently legally compelling condition to pay this charge.

In Fingal County Council in a number of developments, for example, at Hillbrook and Castlecurragh, the council offered a package deal to purchasers whereby the council’s solicitor acted as solicitor for the purchasers. This was done obviously to save money and on the face of it was a very attractive option. The downside, however, is that when queries arise later, there is very little recourse to the solicitor who is acting for two of [1658]the parties to the transaction and there is a clear conflict of interest.

As a result of the legal arrangements with solicitors acting for both the council and purchasers, many purchasers have not seen the detailed legal agreement that they have entered into in purchasing their house. In one case in west Dublin where issues have arisen about the quality of the gas central heating and problems with condensation and other elements of the finish of the houses, many of the purchasers had no copy of the contract agreement. It was held by the council as the mortgage holder or arranger and residents had to contact the council repeatedly to get the information. In such a case, the management company was useless in assisting residents being still under the control of the developer. The developer had built the affordable houses as a fulfilment for the social and affordable housing he had been required to provide for a development some miles away in Castleknock. When some residents eventually sought separate legal representation, the council stopped responding to them and me, claiming that the matter was now in a legal process and it could not comment. That is not acceptable.

County councils are not advising purchasers of the obligations they are signing up to. There is a view that once houses maintain their capital value and perhaps increase in capital value, purchasers cannot complain. This misses the point entirely that this is a new form of arrangement which most people know little or nothing about. Councils are abusing their dominant position by failing to advise purchasers properly and there is no transparency in the arrangements. Those councils have a duty of care to purchasers, particularly the solicitors. This is a matter the Incorporated Law Society should examine as the purchase of a house is the biggest purchase that most people make in their lives.

The development of the management company has become a substitute for the taking in charge of estates. It is galling for new purchasers of houses to find that they may be paying up to €1,200 a year for looking after their estate while affluent older estates have the same services provided by the local authority. This is another stealth tax and it is part of the ongoing conspiracy between the Government, particularly Fianna Fáil, and their friends in the building industry to continue the rip-off of home buyers. The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has failed to clarify why the taking in charge procedures are being abandoned. The only explanation is that it is a back door to privatising essential services and imposing stealth charges on new home owners.

Last June there were major problems with the contamination of the water supply at Tyrellstown in Dublin 15. Following lengthy correspondence and discussions, the county council finally admit[1659]ted to me that the water supply to this large development of more than 2,000 homes, which were occupied, was under the control of the developer and the management company. The lids of the holding tanks within the estate contaminated the water and the council had no control over this, except under public health legislation, because its water supply was not contaminated. As a result, tankers delivered water to the householders for a few weeks. It is outrageous and potentially dangerous if we must rely for water on developers and builders and not on the public authorities to whom we pay our taxes. The same applies to the green areas, roads and public lighting. Why should these areas not continue to be taken in charge by the local authority?

I appreciate management companies may well be appropriate in respect of apartment complexes, duplexes and triplexes which share a common roof and common internal and external spaces, as Deputy Upton has discussed at length. However, this should be done on a co-operative basis, as happens in many other countries, including the USA where home owners run their own apartment blocks. They make provision for investment or sinking funds and the long-term maintenance of apartment blocks such as roof repairs and repainting the building every few years.

The Labour Party has introduced a Bill to provide for the modernisation of the taking in charge process to compel builders to finish off estates properly. The planning process would also be empowered to take into account a developer’s previous record on finishing estates before giving him planning permission to commence a new development. The Government has accepted the Bill in principle but has left it in the parliamentary equivalent of Siberia and we await the day the Government allows the Bill to proceed.

The development of management companies has implications for conveyancing when houses come up for sale. Significant legal problems are mounting. There is a great deal of confusion, including when home owners opt to remortgage to finance improvements. They are subject to the clawback but it has emerged that, legally, the clawback is on the mortgage initiated by the county council, not on the sale of property. The Minister of State will have to sort this out legally. If one remortgages one’s home to obtain extra finance, one must redeem the original mortgage and pay the clawback before engaging in home improvements. It is a surprise when people find this out.

I am deeply disappointed by the Government’s pathetic response to the reasonable arguments put forward by the Labour Party to address this problem. The Taoiseach and the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government [1660]say Fianna Fáil agrees people in traditional houses should not face management charges but they refuse to do anything about it. The Minister is commissioning another set of reports from local authorities and is waiting on a Law Reform Commission report. All this could take years following which the Minister could leave them on the shelf, like all the other reports. In the meantime, many home owners are being abused by management companies. The only beneficiaries in this process are Fianna Fáil’s friends in the building and development industry. Once again, if there is a choice between house buyers and the building industry, Fianna Fáil can be trusted to always pick the builders.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I thank all the Members who contributed to the debate, especially those who will support the Labour Party in the division later. This straightforward problem is faced by many householders. It has been raised in the House so that it can be resolved and not for the purpose of political point scoring. The Labour Party has put a number of proposals to the Government to solve the problem and I am disappointed the Government has chosen not to accept the motion, which it could have done without great difficulty. However, insult is added to injury by the Government taking the opportunity presented by a motion dealing with a problem experienced by people who pay expensive management charges on housing estates and in apartment blocks to introduce a pathetic amendment, which relates to nothing more than a self-serving, self-congratulating list of statements.

In response to a motion about management charges, the Government claps itself on the back. The amendment refers to how much choice householders have. What choice have those who cannot buy a home in the first place? It also refers to high quality urban design, environmentally progressive and energy efficient measures, but the Government is presiding over the building of the slums of tomorrow and is betraying the environment.

The Ministers responsible for drafting the motion should take on board the contributions of their backbenchers, including Deputy Fitzpatrick and Deputy Haughey, chairman of the Joint Committee on the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. The amendment mentions the range of services provided and the additional houses being built and asks the House to congratulate the Government on the increase in the environment Vote in the Estimates. That is the Government’s response to a problem raised in the House by the Labour Party. The Government claps itself on the back for initiatives for which it does not deserve credit and then avoids responsibility by saying the Law Reform Commission will examine the problem and local authority members are responsible in the first place.

[1661]This issue can be resolved by the Minister. If, as he maintains, local authorities are acting outside the law, he can put that right by issuing a policy directive to local authorities to get them back on side and prevent them from setting planning conditions for future planning permissions, which require the setting up of management companies and the charging of management fees. He does not have to conduct a survey, await a report of the Law Reform Commission or plead with councillors. He has the power to issue a policy directive, with which local authorities must comply. He can end this practice tomorrow morning by issuing such a directive, which is the first action the motion calls on him to take.

I refer to the second action the Government can take. The Minister of State referred to the difference between apartment blocks and housing estates. The Minister of State, the Taoiseach and the Minister agree the condition for management companies should not apply to housing estates. However, a remedy is open to them. The Minister can issue a policy guideline under the Planning and Development Act 2000, which distinguishes between apartment blocks and housing estates and between services that should be taken in charge, such as roads, water, sewerage, open spaces and public lighting, and those appropriate to private management companies such as maintenance within the curtilage.

[1662]Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Will the Minister of State do that?

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I refer to section 180 of the Act. The Minister stated in his contribution that this section will solve the problem.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  That is a fraud.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  He stated that all the people who live on estates that are subject to management charges have to do is request the local authority to conduct a plebiscite and if a majority of householders state they want the local authority to take the estate in charge, the local authority must do so. We will put the Government to the test on that. We will ask every Labour Party councillor in the country to table motions in every local authority requiring the local authority to conduct that plebiscite in each of the estates where these management companies exist and where there is concern about them. If it turns out that the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Roche, is correct, that is fine, but if it turns out that there are problems with section 180 such as Deputy Murphy and I identified last night, we will come back to the House and wrap this issue around the neck of the Minister of State and that of the Minister.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  There is a fair amount of brass neck on that side of the House.

Amendment put.

[1661]The Dáil divided: Tá, 63; Níl, 53.

Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  Ahern, Michael. Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Ahern, Noel.
Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry. Information on Niall Blaney  Zoom on Niall Blaney  Blaney, Niall.
Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny. Information on Martin Brady  Zoom on Martin Brady  Brady, Martin.
Information on Joe Callanan  Zoom on Joe Callanan  Callanan, Joe. Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat.
Information on Michael Collins  Zoom on Michael Collins  Collins, Michael. Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Cowen, Brian.
Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John. Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin.
Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  Curran, John. Information on Noel Davern  Zoom on Noel Davern  Davern, Noel.
Information on Síle de Valera  Zoom on Síle de Valera  de Valera, Síle. Information on Tony Dempsey  Zoom on Tony Dempsey  Dempsey, Tony.
Information on John Dennehy  Zoom on John Dennehy  Dennehy, John. Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy.
Information on John Ellis  Zoom on John Ellis  Ellis, John. Information on Dermot Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Dermot Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán. Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  Glennon, Jim. Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  Grealish, Noel.
Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  Hanafin, Mary. Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán.
Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire. Information on Joe Jacob  Zoom on Joe Jacob  Jacob, Joe.
Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy. Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter.
Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony. Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Kirk, Seamus.
Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom. Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian.
Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  McDowell, Michael. Information on Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas.
Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John. Information on John Moloney  Zoom on John Moloney  Moloney, John.
Information on Donal Moynihan  Zoom on Donal Moynihan  Moynihan, Donal. Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael.
Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Mulcahy, Michael. Information on M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M. J.
Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon. Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  O’Connor, Charlie. Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie.
Information on Liz O'Donnell  Zoom on Liz O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Liz. Information on Dennis O'Donovan  Zoom on Dennis O'Donovan  O’Donovan, Denis.
Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Batt. Information on Ned O'Keeffe  Zoom on Ned O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Ned.
Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  O’Malley, Fiona. Information on Tim O'Malley  Zoom on Tim O'Malley  O’Malley, Tim.
Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Power, Peter. Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Roche, Dick.
Information on Mae Sexton  Zoom on Mae Sexton  Sexton, Mae. Information on Michael Smith  Zoom on Michael Smith  Smith, Michael.
Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Treacy, Noel. Information on Dan Wallace  Zoom on Dan Wallace  Wallace, Dan.
Information on Mary Wallace  Zoom on Mary Wallace  Wallace, Mary. Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  Walsh, Joe.
Information on Ollie Wilkinson  Zoom on Ollie Wilkinson  Wilkinson, Ollie. Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  Woods, Michael.
Information on G. V. Wright  Zoom on G. V. Wright  Wright, G. V.  


[1663]Níl
Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  Allen, Bernard. Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Boyle, Dan.
Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P. Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Bruton, Richard.
Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan. Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul.
Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe. Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Crawford, Seymour.
Information on Sean Crowe  Zoom on Sean Crowe  Crowe, Seán. Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán.
Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John. Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy.
Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin. Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon.
Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Gogarty, Paul. Information on Tony Gregory  Zoom on Tony Gregory  Gregory, Tony.
Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom. Information on Seamus Healy  Zoom on Seamus Healy  Healy, Seamus.
Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Higgins, Joe. Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Higgins, Michael D.
Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan. Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul.
Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Kenny, Enda. Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen.
Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  McCormack, Pádraic. Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  McEntee, Shane.
Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  McGinley, Dinny. Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian.
Information on Paddy McHugh  Zoom on Paddy McHugh  McHugh, Paddy. Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz.
Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia. Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Morgan, Arthur.
Information on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin  Zoom on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin  Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda. Information on Gerard Murphy  Zoom on Gerard Murphy  Murphy, Gerard.
Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis. Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus. Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Jim.
Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian. Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan.
Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Pattison, Seamus. Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie.
Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John. Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairí.
Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat. Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael.
Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Ryan, Eamon. Information on Seán Ryan  Zoom on Seán Ryan  Ryan, Seán.
Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  Sherlock, Joe. Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet.
Information on Liam Twomey  Zoom on Liam Twomey  Twomey, Liam. Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary.
Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.  

[1663]Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Stagg and Kehoe.

[1663]Amendment declared carried.

[1664]Question put: “That the motion, as amended, be agreed to.”

[1663]The Dáil divided: Tá, 62; Níl, 53.

Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  Ahern, Michael. Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Ahern, Noel.
Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry. Information on Niall Blaney  Zoom on Niall Blaney  Blaney, Niall.
Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny. Information on Martin Brady  Zoom on Martin Brady  Brady, Martin.
Information on Joe Callanan  Zoom on Joe Callanan  Callanan, Joe. Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat.
Information on Michael Collins  Zoom on Michael Collins  Collins, Michael. Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Cowen, Brian.
Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John. Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin.
Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  Curran, John. Information on Noel Davern  Zoom on Noel Davern  Davern, Noel.
Information on Síle de Valera  Zoom on Síle de Valera  de Valera, Síle. Information on Tony Dempsey  Zoom on Tony Dempsey  Dempsey, Tony.
Information on John Dennehy  Zoom on John Dennehy  Dennehy, John. Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy.
Information on John Ellis  Zoom on John Ellis  Ellis, John. Information on Dermot Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Dermot Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán. Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  Glennon, Jim. Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  Grealish, Noel.
Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  Hanafin, Mary. Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán.
Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire. Information on Joe Jacob  Zoom on Joe Jacob  Jacob, Joe.
Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy. Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter.
Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony. Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Kirk, Seamus.
Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom. Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian.
Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  McDowell, Michael. Information on Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas.
Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John. Information on John Moloney  Zoom on John Moloney  Moloney, John.
Information on Donal Moynihan  Zoom on Donal Moynihan  Moynihan, Donal. Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael.
Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Mulcahy, Michael. Information on M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M. J.
Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon. Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  O’Connor, Charlie. Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie.
Information on Liz O'Donnell  Zoom on Liz O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Liz. Information on Dennis O'Donovan  Zoom on Dennis O'Donovan  O’Donovan, Denis.
Information on Ned O'Keeffe  Zoom on Ned O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Ned. Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  O’Malley, Fiona.
Information on Tim O'Malley  Zoom on Tim O'Malley  O’Malley, Tim. Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Power, Peter.
Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Roche, Dick. Information on Mae Sexton  Zoom on Mae Sexton  Sexton, Mae.
Information on Michael Smith  Zoom on Michael Smith  Smith, Michael. Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Treacy, Noel.
Information on Dan Wallace  Zoom on Dan Wallace  Wallace, Dan. Information on Mary Wallace  Zoom on Mary Wallace  Wallace, Mary.
Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  Walsh, Joe. Information on Ollie Wilkinson  Zoom on Ollie Wilkinson  Wilkinson, Ollie.
Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  Woods, Michael. Information on G. V. Wright  Zoom on G. V. Wright  Wright, G. V.



[1665]Níl
Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  Allen, Bernard. Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Boyle, Dan.
Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P. Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Bruton, Richard.
Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan. Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul.
Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe. Information on Jerry Cowley  Zoom on Jerry Cowley  Cowley, Jerry.
Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Crawford, Seymour. Information on Sean Crowe  Zoom on Sean Crowe  Crowe, Seán.
Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán. Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John.
Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy. Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin.
Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon. Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Gogarty, Paul.
Information on Tony Gregory  Zoom on Tony Gregory  Gregory, Tony. Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom.
Information on Seamus Healy  Zoom on Seamus Healy  Healy, Seamus. Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Higgins, Joe.
Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Higgins, Michael D. Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan.
Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul. Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Kenny, Enda.
Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen. Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  McCormack, Pádraic.
Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  McEntee, Shane. Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  McGinley, Dinny.
Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian. Information on Paddy McHugh  Zoom on Paddy McHugh  McHugh, Paddy.
Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz. Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia.
Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Morgan, Arthur. Information on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin  Zoom on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin  Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
Information on Gerard Murphy  Zoom on Gerard Murphy  Murphy, Gerard. Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis.
Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín. Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus.
Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian. Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan.
Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Pattison, Seamus. Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie.
Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John. Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairí.
Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat. Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael.
Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Ryan, Eamon. Information on Seán Ryan  Zoom on Seán Ryan  Ryan, Seán.
Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  Sherlock, Joe. Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet.
Information on Liam Twomey  Zoom on Liam Twomey  Twomey, Liam. Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary.
Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.  

[1665]Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Stagg and Kehoe.

[1665]Question declared carried.


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