English says Meath will be evaluated in early 2017 as a Rental Pressure Zone under new legislation

Action Plan for Housing, Housing and Urban Renewal, Johnstown, Meath, Navan, Trim

Tuesday, 20th December 2016

Local Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal Damien English T.D. has
today (Monday) stated that the new legislation for Rental Pressure
Zones, as part of the Government's new Rental Strategy, provides a
pathway for dealing with rent issues in parts of Meath.  This had not
been the case until the Government's new Rental Strategy launched last
week by Ministers English and Coveney.  Parts of Meath will be
examined once the final 2016 rental figures are available to the
Rental Tenancies Board.

"Until our new Rental Strategy, there was no pathway for dealing with
rental pressures in Meath.  This had to change, especially with its
proximity to the pressurised Dublin market.  By seeking to deal with
the Dublin market, and putting down in legislation a process for
commuter Counties like Meath, the Government is trying to help renters
in Meath and nationally" stated Minister English.

Minister English complimented all the stakeholders who took part in the
process of formulating this rental strategy. "In July of this year, given
the importance of striking the right balance for renters and landlords,
Government reached out and received hundreds of submissions by interested
parties to feed into the publication of out rental strategy and this important
legislation relating to its publication"

"Ultimately what we really want and need is a construction sector
building high quality homes in the places where they are needed for
people to buy.  That will be my priority locally and nationally as a
Meath T.D. and as a Minister working for all the country" concluded
Minister English.

Notes to Editor:

Ministers English and Coveney have instructed the Rental Tenancies
Board to accelerate its work so that it can put together the more
detailed picture of conditions in counties and urban areas at a
smaller geographical area that better captures pressures. With a more
detailed local area assessment, it is more likely that the real
pressure parts of counties around Dublin for example, will meet the
criteria sooner.

The following commuter areas and cities are being prioritised for assessment:

Areas contiguous to Cork City,
Galway City,
Limerick City and
Waterford City.

The Director of the RTB will be requested to make it an absolute
priority to ensure that data on an area specific basis is available
for all of these areas by end February to allow the designation
process occur where the qualifying criteria have been met. Minister
Coveney has also instructed the RTB to progress this work on a rolling
basis so that where data is available for the first areas in January,
the process can get underway. The RTB will be given extra resources it
needs to get this done.

The Government has also agreed proposals to shorten the timeframe for
the overall designation process will help in ensuring that tenants in
pressure areas will get the benefit of protection from the rent
pressure zone designation without delay.


Funding for 2 Meath West schools

Education, Funding, Navan, School extension

2 Meath West schools have recently been approved for Emergency
Work/Access for All (Loreto Secondary School) and Additional
Accommodation (St. Brigid’s NS, Cortown – 1 X 80m2 mainstream
classroom inc en-suite& 1 x WC for assisted users).

There are also 2 schools in Meath East – St. Peter’s College,
Dunboyne and Yellow Furze NS, Beauparc, Navan.

Minister English stated: “I congratulate the Principals, Boards of
Management and Parent Associations of St. Brigid’s NS, Cortown and
Loreto Secondary School in Navan for seeking this vital funding for
their students and staff. Fine Gael in Government since 2011 have
prioritised funding for Education, especially for providing new school
buildings and new facilities that are needed locally.  Education is
the driver of a sustainable economy and of of our local communities,
especially our rural communities.  I will continue to work with Meath
West based schools for additional necessary resources in the New Year
and beyond.

No details are given of the amount of funding approved by the School
Building Unit, as the publication of the amount of grant aid
sanctioned could prejudice the tendering process for an individual

The School Building Unit of the Department of Education will issue
detailed letters on the relevant projects directly to the school
authorities and these letters will inform the school authorities of
the amount of grant aid sanctioned by the Department.

€65,500 for Meath and Westmeath’s Animal Welfare Organisations – English

Ballivor, Farming, Funding, Navan, Trim

Tuesday, 20th December 2016

Damien English, Meath West TD and Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal, has welcomed funding awards of €65,500 for 11 Meath and Westmeath based animal welfare organisations.  These local organisations provide a vital service throughout the 2 Counties in protecting animal welfare. The organisations that will benefit from the Government announcement are listed in the table below.

The payments will be made with immediate effect.

Minister English stated: “These local organisations contribute greatly to protecting animals in Meath and Westmeath, by providing sanctuary for in many instances surrendered, abandoned and at risk animals and the funding being awarded is evidence of Fine Gael in Government’s on-going commitment in the area of animal welfare and is a recognition of the important role played by these organisations in safeguarding animals particularly pet and companion animals.”

He continued: “I join with my colleague the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine in acknowledging the work of the welfare organisations and take this opportunity to thank their staff and volunteers, especially at this Christmas and New Year period when many of them will have to work especially hard.”

‘Interpreting Ireland through Writers, Historians and Local Collections.’

Heritage, Housing and Urban Renewal, Innovation, Library Services, Meath, Navan, Research, Research and Innovation, Science, Speeches, Wesmeath

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Speech by Mr. Damien English, T.D.,Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal

Writing Ireland:

Interpreting Ireland through Writers, Historians and Local Collections.’

Conference 2016

Main Conference Hall, Dublin Castle, 6th December 4pm

Good afternoon everyone.

I am delighted as Minister to represent the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government at today’s Conference:

Interpreting Ireland through Writers, Historians and Local Collections.

Due to other Government business I have missed the many contributions from today’s speakers including:

  • national figures from print and broadcast media,
  • national authorities on history,
  • local history and literature from the academic sector
  • and prominent figures in the local authority library sector.

The importance of collecting cultural memory, the impact of the national collections on the local, and the local on the national, has been examined; this is an area of great interest to the State and its people.

Local history provides insights on how life in Ireland in the past evolved in a variety of settings, both urban and rural.

Future generations will one day mine these treasures, to better understand their heritage and culture.

The preserved history and research within the collections, will allow them glimpses into the diverse, interacting worlds that are the basis of the Irish historical experience.

Even the unique regional diversity of Irish society in the past will be preserved within these collections.

I hope the experience of the Conference has been an exciting and thought provoking event for you.

The influence of politics, historians and writers has been explored.

The value and opportunities for the public provided by the national collections and the local studies collections in public libraries has all been debated, challenged and refreshed.

Indeed this Conference is a very fitting addition to the great number of really worthwhile events which have been held throughout this year as part of the Ireland 2016 celebrations.

I know that in many cases, the entire Ireland 2016 programme of events in the local authority was co-ordinated by the County or City Librarian and their library teams.

I have had many interactions in my current role with the librarians and library staff.

Their dedication and passion for the service they provide is an inspiration to me.

The fantastic showcase, including the Dublin City 1916 Exhibition bus, has been provided by many of the public library services from across the country and made available throughout the day for everyone to explore and enjoy.

Such a showcase demonstrates the work undertaken by the public libraries on collecting and making available information and resources on Irish history and writers as an on-going practice and also particularly on the commemoration of 1916.

2016 is now drawing to a close, but the Decade of Centenaries is of course on-going.

The local place is becoming more and more important as we move towards events such as the War of Independence, which directly impacted on and still resonate in the towns, villages and parishes across the country.

In light of this, the role of the local collections will come even more to the fore in the coming years.

Collecting and making available resources for the history and culture of communities and places is one of the key roles of the public library.

All thirty-one local authorities have local studies collections as part of the library service and provide a dedicated local studies service for the public.

Local studies collections are like an ‘Aladdin’s cave’, rich and abundant with treasures.

These hold the precious gems of our culture, and the list is astounding; such as:

  • manuscripts of local interest,
  • collections of local and national newspapers and journals;
  • iconic photographs and other visual materials;
  • ancient maps, church records; estate records;
  • and administrative records such as ‘of the Poor Law Union’.

Public libraries not only collect original source materials, but also seek to acquire copies of materials held in national and other repositories, making it easier for users to access these materials.

Examples of these are:

  • the Primary Valuation (Griffiths’);
  • the Tithe Applotment Books,
  • and the Census returns.

There is no doubt that the existence of excellent local studies collections, and the support and expert advice offered by local studies librarians, has contributed greatly to the interest growth and development in local history publications.

Public libraries also collect these local publications, ensuring that knowledge gained about a locality is widely shared, enabling successive researchers build upon previous work.

The socio-economic development of Ireland in recent decades has led to huge changes in the make-up of even the most rural communities.

There are now large numbers of people living in areas with which they have no personal or family connections.

In addition, housing and other developments have changed both the infrastructural and cultural landscapes of many communities, leading to changes in how local people interact with their own localities.

In such an environment, local studies are important as a means of fostering a sense of place and belonging – crucial to the well-being of individuals and communities alike – is more important than ever.

Public library collections are fundamental to the pursuit and enjoyment of local studies. Of course, as you have heard, there are variations in the nature and extent of collections across the country.

The question of providing and managing access, physical and digital, has both enormous benefits and some extra challenges.

The need is, of course, to balance providing the widest possible access to the public with the preservation of the materials for the future.

There is the need to ensure that copies, particularly digital ones, cannot be exploited inappropriately.

It is a delicate balance.

But the overriding requirement and the basis on which the public libraries operate is to make as many of the resources as accessible to as many people as possible.

I know, from my constituent’s exploration of the local studies collection in both the Meath and Westmeath library services, the importance of being able to research and find information on family and place through the centuries, through local sources in our local area.

The development of local studies, collections and enhancing access to these formed part of the public libraries strategy 2013 to 2017, Opportunities for All.

As my Department now starts to plan for a new strategy, it is important that we build on the developments achieved in the last five years and that we incorporate the learnings from today to help shape the future of local studies.

I look forward to hearing a full overview of Today’s proceedings.

I look forward also to your input next year into the framing of the successor to ‘Opportunities for All’ – A new strategy for Public Libraries in Ireland.

We are in a wonderful position to learn from the past and plan for the future so that we can do something positive for the Library Services in Ireland.

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you again for inviting me today, congratulations on an excellent conference and I wish you all the very best for the festive season and the New Year in 2017.


Official opening of Leighlinbridge Housing Scheme

Action Plan for Housing, Funding, Rebuilding Ireland

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Speech by Minister English


 Official opening of Leighlinbridge Housing Scheme

(Capital Assistance Scheme – 15 units and Communal Facility) 

6th December, 2016

Good morning everyone. I was delighted to accept the kind invitation from my colleague Pat Deering T.D. to come here today to officially open this scheme at Leighlinbridge, and I sincerely thank you all for your warm welcome.

Visiting projects such as this one provides me with the opportunity to see the magnificent work being carried out locally in relation to the important area of housing. I understand this scheme provides 15 units of accommodation plus a communal facility with a coffee dock, relaxation area, laundry room and office. The funding provided by my Department includes €1.9m for the accommodation units and €112,500 for the communal facility. This does not include some €200,000 which I understand was provided through local fundraising, so it’s a great honour for me to be here to celebrate this combination of community drive and energy delivering on community need. This facility will allow people from the area to continue to live centrally within their own community. I am informed that the need for this accommodation was identified many years ago, which subsequently led to the formation of the Leighlinbridge Housing Association in 2006. I wish to specifically commend all the members of this Association along with the Chairman Michael Meaney.

This project is funded under the Capital Assistance Scheme, which the Government sees as an important mechanism for the delivery of social housing, as it supports sheltered housing projects around the country for people with specific categories of need. In conjunction with Leighlinbridge Housing Association, Carlow County Council, I’m glad to say, has been a great support for this project and I want to acknowledge the role of the Housing officials from the Council along with Eddie Nolan, the Clerk of Works. I am very much looking forward to viewing some of the new units and meeting with residents, once the official opening has been completed.

This Government understands the need for the construction of new social housing nationally to provide good quality housing into the future. Earlier this summer Rebuilding Ireland was published, an Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness. Over the period of the Plan, 47,000 homes will be delivered under the various social housing programmes, together with an expansion of the Housing Assistance Payment scheme nationwide. This delivery will be achieved through collaboration between local authorities, Approved Housing Bodies, the National Treasury Management Agency and the private sector.

The new Action Plan builds on the social housing targets and funding allocations that issued under the Social Housing Strategy to all local authorities in April of last year. Under the Social Housing Strategy over €1.5 billion in funding allocations was announced to support all local authorities to deliver social housing via a combination of building, buying and leasing schemes out to 2017.

At this point almost €680 million has been allocated for over 3,900 social housing new builds, turnkey developments and acquisitions. I am keen that local authorities advance these projects as soon as possible and have assured them that funding is available to fully support their efforts in this regard.

The approval of these projects across all local authority areas including Carlow, demonstrates the Government’s support for the provision of social housing for those who need it all across the country. The new Action Plan demonstrates our vision, and our ambition to work in tandem with local and central government and others to bring a real response to social housing need in Ireland. Not only is there now a clear plan, but there are also high levels of funding committed to support local authorities to deliver.

I anticipate a notable ramping up in terms of both construction spend and delivery over the next year, and the measures set out in Rebuilding Ireland, Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness will have a direct benefit in that regard.

The jobs that projects like this support are also an important consideration for me. The Government’s investment in Housing is estimated to support or create 29,000 jobs in construction. That is another advantage of undertaking locally-focussed housing projects; it means that the employment opportunities also stay local, and I’m glad to recognise the input of all the construction and tradespeople on this excellent project.

However, it should be remembered that schemes such as this one are about more than just building the houses. They are about building thriving sustainable communities. Projects like this one, which is excellently designed and well located, imbue a great sense of pride and confidence in communities. This is a place where people want to live.

In this regard I wish to acknowledge and commend the Architectural services of Paul Kehoe Architects, Dublin, Quantity Surveyors KSN Consultants, Dublin, Engineers Roughan & O’Donovan, also Dublin and LJM Construction from Dunlavin who have expertly constructed these houses.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all the residents of this facility the very best for the future in their new homes.

Thank You.



Minister Damien English welcomes €127,600 in funding under the CLÁR scheme for 2016 in Meath

Ballinacree, Ballinlough, CLAR, Funding, North Meath, Oldcastle, Roads

Friday, 2nd December 2016

Councillor Sarah Reilly joins in welcome for projects in the Kells Municpal Area

Local Fine Gael T.D. for Meath West and Minister for Planning and Urban Renewal Damien English, has welcomed the allocation of €127,600 in funding for Meath projects under CLÁR 2016. “Many parts of North and West Co. Meath suffer from disadvantage because of their rural location, and I am delighted to have worked with Cllr. Sarah Reilly as the local Fine Gael Councillor in these areas to lobby for this investment. It is good to see CLÁR money return to rural areas like North and West Co. Meath for the first time since 2009” Minister English said.

Councillor Sarah Reilly stated: “I congratulate the local communities in North and West Co. Meath like Ballincaree who have benefited from the reopened and renewed CLÁR scheme under this Fine Gael led Government. Their voluntary efforts on behalf of their local communities are being rewarded and supported. Rural Ireland and rural Meath is important, and we must fight to protect it. This funding is part of that fight.”

Funding for Meath is as follows:

CLÁR Safety package for Schools/Community Facilities CLÁR approved projects for 2016
County DED Description OFFICIAL SCHOOL NAME / COMMUNITY FACILILTY Requested CLÁR funding Agreed CLÁR funding
Meath Killeagh Constructure Footpath between St Fiach’s N.S and Ballinacree Community Centre St Fiach’s N.S €85,600.00 €85,600.00
Meath Ballinlough Purchase and Installation of signs Ballinlough N.S €7,000.00 €7,000.00
Meath Newcastle Purchase and Installation of signs Ughtyneill N.S €7,000.00 €7,000.00
Meath Kilskeer Purchase and Installation of signs Kilskyre N.S €7,000.00 €7,000.00
Meath Killeagh Purchase and Installation of signs Ballinacree N.S €7,000.00 €7,000.00
Meath Trohanny Purchase and Installation of signs St Anne’s N.S €7,000.00 €7,000.00
Meath Moylagh Purchase and Installation of signs Moylagh N.S €7,000.00 €7,000.00


Notes to Editors:

CLÁR is a targeted investment programme that aims to provide funding for small infrastructural projects in rural areas that have experienced significant depopulation.

The aim of CLÁR is to support the sustainable development of identified CLÁR areas by attracting people to live and work there. The funding works in conjunction with local funding and on the basis of locally identified priorities. The programme has been effectively closed for new applications since 2009 but was reopened by Minister Ring on the 6th of October 2016.



50th Anniversary UCD Planning Seminar

Action Plan for Housing, Education, Housing and Urban Renewal, Speeches


Address by Mr Damien English, T.D., Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal

On the occasion of the UCD Planning Seminar: “Reflections: The Past, Present and Future of Planning”

UCD, Dublin




Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. Good afternoon.

As Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal I am delighted to join you for the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of UCD’s Planning School.

On behalf of the Government, I wish to acknowledge the important contribution that the School has made to the development of the planning profession and to shaping the overall learning process of planning since 1966.

It is right that we celebrate that contribution and discuss how it might be expanded, developed and improved for the future.

The well-being and strength of our cities and towns has increasingly become the barometer for the health and strength of our economy, and of our wider society – all of which is possible through proper professional planning.

I would like to reiterate the sentiments of my colleague, Minister Simon Coveney;

I believe in the importance of having vibrant and dynamic urban and rural places. I believe in the need to plan for the longer term interests of both.

However, we must reflect on the present fact that just over 12,600 housing units were completed last year, almost half were “one off” houses.

We need to be building somewhere in the region of 25,000 units for the future.

These houses are principally needed in our key cities, our towns and our villages.

They are needed to meet future and evolving household formations, economic and demographic patterns.

Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness

‘Rebuilding Ireland – an Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness’ sets out a holistic response to the overall housing system as a fundamental building block of our urban and rural policy.

The Plan provides over 80 practical and readily implementable solutions that aim to increase the annual housing supply to 25,000 units per annum by 2021.

The Plan will enhance the stock of social houses by 47,000 units in the same period.

To back this up, a massive €5.5 billion, yes €5.5billion, is available for future housing and infrastructure in Ireland.

Planning plays a major part in setting the conditions for housing delivery and accordingly Rebuilding Ireland aims to support and develop the planning process.

Urban Renewal and Regeneration

The impression might be that the Action Plan is all about building new houses.

But the Plan also has an emphasis on making the best use of our existing buildings and existing places.

To this end I am leading an Urban Renewal Working Group which

  • Will drive forward these and wider proposals;
  • It will complement the existing regeneration programme;
  • It will further develop projects under the Social Housing Capital and Social Programmes across local authorities.

Action 5.1 of the Plan also undertakes to develop a National Vacant Housing Re-Use Strategy by 2017.

The Housing Agency, will lead the responsibility for co-ordinating the development of the Strategy.

It has established a working group to inform the Strategy, and includes senior representatives from my Department and from the Local Authorities. Its first meeting was held in September and work is progressing.

My Department and the Housing Agency are liaising with Local Authorities and with the Central Statistics Office in order to obtain a better understanding of the numbers, characteristics and reasons why homes are vacant.

This understanding will also assist Government in:

  • Introducing a new Town and Village Renewal scheme; a similar scheme to the ‘Living City Initiative’ to regenerate urban centres and villages (Year 1 action)
  • Exempting the use of under-utilised or vacant areas over ground-floor premises in urban areas, from “change of use” requirements, for both residential and commercial use (Year 1 action)
  • Reforming the Derelict Sites Act to tackle the under-use and hoarding of derelict land by the State, semi-State and private sectors;
  • Commencing the new “Buy and Renew” initiative with an initial capital provision of €25 million in 2017, and
  • Rolling out the new Repair and Leasing Scheme (RLS) for which I have secured €140m over the next five years.

National Planning Framework

While our housing needs must get priority attention, I recognise the value of planning for the future.

This is why I, and my Department, are committed to the development of a new National Planning Framework (NPF) to succeed the National Spatial Strategy.

The National Planning Framework ‘Ireland 2040’ will be different from its predecessor in the following ways:

  • It will be a framework not in sole ownership of Government.
  • It will, as provided for under statutory legislation, and as recommended by the Mahon Tribunal, be approved by Dáil Éireann.
  • It will be the definitive statement on the future strategic development of our remarkable country.
  • The NPF will be more strategic and more concise than its predecessor.

There will be three new Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies developed alongside the NPF.

They will be developed by the three Regional Assemblies representing the local government sector and co-ordinating their local economic development and planning functions.

I believe that the National Planning Framework will address the key aspects of planning for the future in Ireland. It needs to:

  • Identify where and how our housing needs are best met;
  • Identify our Regions key assets for economic development and job-creation;
  • Specify the location, delivery and funding of critical infrastructure;
  • Enhance the role of planning our sustainability, our greenness;

To achieve these we need to:

  • Find the right balance between the complementary but contrasting strengths of our regions; and
  • Strengthen the opportunities for an island approach to our development;
  • And integrate the marine and terrestrial planning processes.

We will have a realistic national conversation about the potential of our places, both urban and rural, recognising that a National Planning Framework will mean hard choices and avoiding the “one for everyone in the audience” approach.

In a globalised world, quality of ‘place’ really matters.

You as Planners know more about making a place work than any other profession.

So I look forward to working together with UCD Planning School in forming both policy and urban development practice so that we create better urban places for all.

Learning From The Past

As we all know, we had dark times in our recent planning past.

Let us not forget the enormous work undertaken and the huge financial cost associated with the Mahon Tribunal, its reports and recommendations.

I am happy that the implementation of the recommendations are ongoing, and includes legislation such as the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill presently at second stage in the Dáil.

As previous Ministers have stated and I certainly have no difficulty with re-stating today, abuses of the planning process are not acceptable and are not victim-less crimes.

By putting the wrong developments in the wrong places, at the wrong time, we are condemning future generations to live with the mistakes of the past.

That is why this Government is fully committed to the establishment of the Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR) through the Planning and Development Bill.

Looking to the Future

To conclude, this evenings 50th anniversary celebrations will reflect on the past, present and future of Irish Planning.

I think we will all agree that while there are challenging times ahead for planning in Ireland. They will be interesting times, if you are a Planner I am sure they will be exciting times.

Times which will require a better vision, a better commitment and better technical skills of the Professional Planner to address the many challenges we face together.

Within my own Department, it is fitting that 50 years after the establishment of this School that for the first time, we have the word “Planning” in our title.

I am proud to be a Minister in the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government; one that reflects a newly re-constituted and expanded planning capability and function.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe that, having come through the past, we are witnessing a new and golden era for planning and professional planners in Ireland.

We now know what didn’t work. We know what does work and with proper professional planning we know what will work.

There is now a remarkable opportunity to shape the future of our country through planning.

Ultimately, I believe that Planning is about bringing the future into the present so we can do something about it.

Or as Abraham Lincoln said – “The best way to predict the future is to create it”. Let us now do this together.

Finally, congratulations again to University College Dublin and to the Planning School.

I salute you for the past 50 years of your work; I look forward to working with you during the next 50 years as you play a dynamic part in the planning of Ireland’s future.

Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, Thank You.