Consultation with housing sector, key to framing Labour housing bill

22 June 2016

Speaking to Housing Stakeholders at launch of Labour’s Social and Affordable Housing Bill 2016

Today’s event is significant for a number of reasons. First of all it gives all of us in this room an opportunity not only to identify the issues that face the housing sector, but also to put forward genuine, workable solutions, in the form of an Oireachtas Bill, that will actually tackle those issues. 

Today marks a new way of doing things. A more open and inclusive way, where we put the issues under scrutiny, and in a spirit of co-operation, move towards a consensus on how these issues can be resolved. 

Willie Penrose, Alan Kelly, Brendan Ryan, Brendan Howlin and myself have put some thought into what we believe can be done in the legislative context, but we don’t have a monopoly on wisdom, which is why we are anxious to hear from people like yourselves, who are dealing with housing day-in day-out, and who are probably more familiar with the challenges the sector face than anybody else. 

The purpose of this Bill is to amend various pieces of legislation in order to make improvements to the current serious shortage in supply of housing for sale or for rent at affordable prices, and to ensure a stable and functioning housing market.

Today I will be looking at details of our proposals in terms of measures around supply; affordability and security; and the professionalisation of private-rented sector.

This Bill is set in the context of looking at the constitutional balance between the rights of private property and the principle of social justice and the common good. And while it represents a strong and comprehensive legislative response to the issues, it has to be acknowledged that legislation alone, cannot fix everything.

Resources and political buy-in will also be required, if legislation is to make any meaningful impact.

I look forward to your feedback and contributions today.

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