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Minister John Paul Phelan's address at the official opening of the new Atrium in Fingal County Hall

Published on Thursday, 21 Sep 2017
John Paul Phelan TD
  • Mayor Mc Camley and Members of Fingal County Council, Members of the Oireachtas, Chief Executive, ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to be invited to speak at the opening of this splendid new atrium and public space in Fingal County Hall.
  • The new structure is very striking and I have no doubt that every person who passes through will find it most welcoming and accessible. The changes which have been made to this important area will allow Fingal to continue evolving positively and cater for the changing economic and social requirements of its citizens.
  • As we are all aware, inadequate housing supply across the private, social and rental sectors has left many individuals and families at crisis point in terms of meeting their housing needs.
  • As a planning and housing authority, Fingal County Council is faced with the repercussions of this complex and challenging situation daily.  This situation will persist until we succeed in correcting the imbalance between supply and demand.
  • The Government’s “Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness” means there is now a firm commitment and funding in place to deliver an additional 47,000 social homes over its 6-year life-span, together with key measures to effectively double the supply of new private housing so that 25,000 new homes per year become available to buy or rent.
  • I am pleased to see Fingal, and local authorities and approved housing bodies more generally, ramping-up their social housing programmes.  We now have a nationwide Social Housing Construction Programme which will see the delivery of 10,000 homes in 630 schemes in the next few years, with additional schemes being added on an ongoing basis.
  • That said, the sheer scale of the demands we face require us to continually strive to house more people more quickly.  We must leave no stone unturned in terms of our collective efforts to identify and activate any potential source of additional housing supply.
  • The public expect this of us, and I know that together we have the capacity, the resources and the ingenuity to deliver in line with these expectations over time.
  • The elected members of Fingal County Council are currently undertaking important work in relation to the budget for 2018. I know you took a very important decision earlier this month to vary your Local Property Tax rate here in Fingal County Council for 2018 by minus 10%.
  • This was an important change on the variation for all previous years by the maximum minus 15%.  I acknowledge that this was a very considered decision on your behalf and it illustrates the responsibility that elected members shoulder when deciding whether or not to vary their local LPT rates and the growing appreciation of the link between service provision, LPT income and the budgetary process.
  • On the broader funding issues my Department is working closely with the sector through the County and City Management Association (CCMA) to identify the various funding pressures on a sector wide basis. This work helps inform the decision making process to ensure that a coherent, sector wide view of the particular funding challenges are presented.
  • Of course, all such issues have to be considered within the parameters of the national and fiscal budgetary situation and the competing priorities presenting themselves at the wider Governmental level. However, I am conscious of the increasing demands on the local government sector and the challenge is to ensure these are reflected as part of the wider budgetary discussions.
  • My Department has also prepared a report on local government matters which will be submitted to Government and the Oireachtas during the autumn session pursuant to the commitment in the Programme for Partnership Government.   The report will consider potential measures to boost local government leadership and accountability, and to ensure that local government funding, structures and responsibilities strengthen local democracy.
  • I look forward to working closely and collaboratively with Fingal County Council, as with all planning and housing authorities and stakeholders, in overcoming the challenges we face and delivering real results to our citizens.