February 7: Collins claims ruling parties had role in property bubble

Tim Ryan

Reporter:

Tim Ryan

Limerick Fianna Fail Deputy Niall Collins told the Dáil he remembered going into Limerick County Council meetings and watching Fine Gael local authority members with the developers negotiating buy-outs from the former Part V obligations to provide social housing.

Limerick Fianna Fail Deputy Niall Collins told the Dáil he remembered going into Limerick County Council meetings and watching Fine Gael local authority members with the developers negotiating buy-outs from the former Part V obligations to provide social housing.

“The Government parties should accept the part they played in the creation of the property bubble,” he said. “They should take a small bit of time to step back and consider this.”

Speaking during a debate on a Fianna Fail motion on housing affordability, he said the Government introduced personal insolvency legislation which gave the bankers a veto.

“I can tell the deputies in the House that when the County Registrar sat in Limerick in November he dealt with more than 200 cases of home repossessions because of the approach by the banks, by virtue of the personal insolvency legislation which gives them a veto and which has strengthened their position in negotiations with distressed borrowers.

“The deputies need to take on board what they have done in government in terms of strengthening the banks and weakening the position of the vulnerable person who is being put out of his or her house.”

With regard to local authority housing, he said there is not a tenant purchase scheme at present. There is demand for one and the Minister of State will acknowledge this.

“Limerick has 4,500 people on the housing waiting list,” he said.

“It is just not good enough. It is not sustainable that 4,500 people are on the waiting list in Limerick when the Government is refusing to review the situation with regard to rent caps.

“These people find they have to rent in the private sector where they face the prospect of eviction, a further knock-on effect of which could result in them facing homelessness which pertains across the country and which needs to be addressed.

“It is not unique to only locations outside Limerick.”

O’Donovan calls for review of the penalty points system

Concern at the number of number of penalty points cases being thrown out of courts across the country was raised in the Dáil by Fine Gael Deputy Patrick O’Donovan.

This problem is not confined to any particular court or district, he said. Speaking on the new Road Traffic Bill, he said there is a great deal of uncertainty and a lack of confidence in relation to the implementation of the penalty points system and road traffic legislation generally.

“As a member of the Transport Committee I have asked the Chairman, Deputy John O’Mahony, that the Committee undertake a review of the penalty points system,” he said.

“As a result of whistleblower revelations, cases being thrown out of court and address of this loophole by the Minister, there is a drip, drip, drip erosion in confidence in relation to the State’s commitment to make our roads safer by changing people’s behaviour. We know that when people change their behaviour the roads are safer.”

Deputy O’Donovan said he recently learned through the Department of Justice and Equality that, unfortunately, since 2009 approximately 1,400 cases relating to penalty points have been thrown out of court for one reason or another.

“This arises not because these cases were isolated incidences but because there are systemic issues in relation to the delivery of the penalty points system, which I think needs to be reviewed,” he said.

“I have asked the Chairman of the Transport Committee to engage with the Minister, Deputy Donohoe, and his colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Fitzgerald, an Garda Síochána, the operators of GoSafe and the legal practitioners about what is happening in our courts and how we can improve the system. I acknowledge the issues that have arisen with the current legislation.”

He said he hoped that the Transport Committee will undertake a comprehensive review of the penalty points system to see if there are other anomalies arising in relation to the issuing of penalty points, including who can and cannot give evidence in court in this regard, the relationship between the driver and an Garda Síochána and the legal standing in this regard.

“If there are anomalies that are preventing the application of penalty points to the licences of people who have committed road traffic offences then they need to be addressed,” he said.

“I do not say that as a slight against the Department, the Minister or his predecessor because it is not today or yesterday this issue arose.”