October 5 - Kieran O’Donnell seeks national policy on graffiti

The need to develop a national policy on graffiti was raised in the Dáil by Limerick East Fine Gael Deputy Kieran O’Donnell. Graffiti is an issue in parts of Limerick city in his constituency, he said.

The need to develop a national policy on graffiti was raised in the Dáil by Limerick East Fine Gael Deputy Kieran O’Donnell. Graffiti is an issue in parts of Limerick city in his constituency, he said.

Recently, it has been an issue along a stretch of roadway known as the Superquinn road which runs from the Kilmurry roundabout to the Monaleen Road.

“I am glad that the local authorities in Limerick have agreed to remove the graffiti and that they are considering the installation of CCTV cameras to monitor this issue,” he said.

“Graffiti represents an invasion of private property. Many of the people affected bought their houses at high prices and walls at the back of their homes are being graffitied, which is upsetting for them.

“Many of them are either elderly or have young families. The younger people bought their homes at the height of the Celtic tiger boom.

“The Department oversees many good practices to deal with graffiti on a national level. Local authorities can avail of a €900,000 grant under the anti-litter and anti-graffiti campaign.

“There is a national litter action plan and a national litter pollution monitoring system.

“In addition, a new website, www.fixyourarea.ie, has been operational since 1 January this year through which anyone can report a problem in their area, including graffiti, and the local authority will respond within two days.”

At the moment, Deputy O’Donnell said the legislation that covers graffiti is 16 years old.

“I refer to section 19 of the Litter Pollution Act 1997,” he said.

“It makes no mention of graffiti whatsoever. I call for the development of a national policy on graffiti which takes into account updating section 19 of the Litter Pollution Act 1997 to deal with graffiti. The approach should be standard practice across all local authorities.”

In reply the Minister for the Environment, Community & Local Government Phil Hogan said the programme for Government 2011 included a commitment to establish a website to assist residents with the reporting of problems with street lighting, drainage, graffiti, waste collection and road and path maintenance in neighbourhoods, with a guarantee that local officials would respond within two working days.

“Under the Litter Pollution Acts 1997 to 2009, the primary responsibility for management and enforcement responses to litter pollution, including the defacement of structures by writing or other marks, lies with local authorities,” he said. “In my view, that includes graffiti.”

Minister Hogan said the penalties attaching to littering and graffiti offences are substantial and include an on-the-spot fine of €150.

The Protection of the Environment Act 2003 introduced conviction on indictment for litter and graffiti offences, with a maximum fine of €130,000, and set the maximum fine on summary conviction at €3,000.

Increasing interest in rented accommodation – O’Sullivan

Introducing a new Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Bill, Minister Jan O’Sullivan said, “We now have an opportunity to reassess our attitudes to housing and home ownership.

“The emergence of rented housing as a real viable housing option is part of this reassessment. A well-balanced housing sector requires a strong, vibrant and well-regulated rent sector, which is an integral part of future housing policy. The Bill before us is an important step on that journey.”

Perhaps the most significant achievement of the Bill as it stands would be the extension of the remit of the Residential Tenancies Act to approved housing body dwellings, she said.

Approved housing bodies generally provide rental accommodation for families and persons with specific categories of need who are on the social housing list.

“However, the relationship between these tenants and their approved housing body landlords is not generally provided for in either the Housing Acts or the Residential Tenancies Acts and they operate on the basis of lease agreements, the various Landlord and Tenant Acts and common law,” she said.

“Formal regulation of the tenant-landlord relationship in the sector lags considerably behind the private rented sector; while recognising that the vast majority of tenancies in the sector work very well, there is an urgent need for a modern legislative basis for approved housing body tenancies.”