Saturday 1 October 2016

Labour TDs vent frustration over housing crisis

Niall O'Connor & Daniel McConnell

Published 17/06/2015 | 20:58

Labour's Joe Costello
Labour's Joe Costello

Labour Party TDs and senators have expressed deep frustration at what they describe as a severe lack of progress in the area of housing.

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The issue of housing dominated the Labour parliamentary party meeting tonight as deputies warned that they are not seeing the delivery of housing in their constituencies.

The party has sought a special meeting with Environment Minister and party deputy leader Alan Kelly next week.

While Mr Kelly was not criticised at the meeting, a number of TDs and senators expressed concern at a lack of action in the area of housing, despite the pledge to budget €3.8bn for this area.

Dublin Central TD Joe Costello again proposed a special grant scheme for first time buyers.

The proposal is targeted at couples living in urban areas who cannot meet the deposit rules in order to obtain a mortgage.

The measures would mean the minister directs local authorities to provide cash grants to applicants struggling to get onto the property market in cities such as Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway. A similar scheme, which previously saw first-time buyers being given grants of up to £IR3,000, was scrapped in 2002.

Separately at the meeting, Tanaiste Joan Burton agreed to change application forms for State benefits which encourage the use of a bank over a post office.

Meanwhile, Ms Burton has been forced to amend application procedures for social welfare payments amid fury within the party that huge damage would be done to the country's post office network.

 Brendan Ryan, Dublin North TD, welcome Ms Burton's climbdown.

 "I welcome the decision of the Tanaiste, announced to the Labour PLP today, that she is to amend the recently revised application forms for a range of DSP payments," he said.

 Mr Ryan said the planned reforms would have resulted in directing payments away from the Post Office network around the country.

 M Ryan said there is no doubt that having Social Welfare payments paid directly into bank accounts has been and will continue to be the choice of many and possibly the majority of applicants but it should not be as a result of direction from the Department which would result in a disadvantage to post offices.

 "I am delighted that the Tanaiste has responded to concerns raised by myself and many of my Labour Party colleagues and that she has directed her officials to amend the forms to address the concerns raised. I look forward now to a speedy implementation of that decision," Mr Ryan said.

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