Meath Enterprise Week Business Conference and Expo 

Action Plan for Jobs, Business, Funding, Innovation, Jobs, Meath, Research, Research and Innovation, Science, Skills, Speeches, Startups, Trim

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

for Meath Enterprise Week Business Conference and Expo 

Knightsbrook Hotel, Trim

Thursday, 16th November 2017


Ladies and Gentlemen, entrepreneurs of County Meath, it is a great pleasure to be in Trim for the 4th Annual Meath Enterprise Week Business Conference and Expo.

I would like to pay tribute to Gary O’Meara and his team at Meath Enterprise for continuing with this showcase event that brings together the very best of Meath Entrepreneurship under one roof.

This year’s conference theme of ‘Collaboration, Innovation and Entrepreneurship’ encapsulates the essence of what it takes to bring an idea for a product or service from inception right through to the market.

But it is the ‘Innovation’ aspect of the expo that excites me the most. Innovation is nothing new to Meath.

Innovation is not just driven by bright ideas, innovation is driven by entrepreneurs, who take great ideas and bring them to life as new products, new services and new businesses.

Five thousand years ago Meath was at the cutting edge of innovation in Europe. The best Scientists and Engineers in Europe, in the world, were working to build the megalithic structure at Newgrange.

That building was precisely aligned to flood the inner burial chamber with light at dawn on the shortest day of the year and demonstrates just how innovative and skilled our remote ancestors were.

The factors which led to the creation of Western Europe’s first innovation hub in Meath, location and connectivity, a highly skilled workforce and a great quality of life, are still present in the county.

In point of fact they are stronger than ever.

My vision for Meath, a vision shared by Meath Co Council, Meath Enterprise and business in Meath is that Meath will not just be a great county to live in, but a great county to work in & to invest in.

And the Boyne Valley Food Innovation District is absolutely critical to making that vision a reality.

I think the secret to success for the Food Innovation District is collaboration. And the same is true for your success in business.

Collaboration within industry, between businesses and with academia and researchers can help unlock the full potential of what you are offering and deliver real impact for Meath and for job creation in the county.

It is through your success over the past few years in business that has seen more jobs created in Meath.

The national unemployment rate is now at 6%, and it continues to drop.

4 out of 5 jobs created in the last 12 months have been outside Dublin.

There are now approximately 85,000 Meath people in work

927 Meath jobs supported by the Local Enterprise Office (2016)

8,732 Meath Jobs in Meath Business supported by Enterprise Ireland, IDA and Uduras na Gaeltachta (2016)

Thousands upon thousands of jobs created by small business in Meath.

I want to thank you for your work, for developing your business and for your dedication to job creation in Meath.

I want to thank Meath Enterprise, Meath LEO, the IDA, Enterprise Ireland and all the State Agencies for working with you when needed.

I would like to leave you with a quote from Ewing Marion Kauffman

“All of the money in the world cannot solve problems unless we work together. And if we work together, there is no problem in the world that can stop us”

I have no doubt that if work together we will drive your business, our county and the Boyne Valley Region well on its way to being at the cutting edge centre of innovation & job creation in the 21st Century.

Together we will make Meath a great place to live, work, and build a brighter future for our children.



Property Industry Ireland Conference Speech

Action Plan for Housing, Housing and Urban Renewal, National Planning Framework, Rebuilding Ireland, Speeches

Speech by Minister of State for Housing and Planning – Damien English T.D. at the Property Industry Ireland Conference on Living and working in Ireland to 2040 – impacts on Irish Property Industry

Marker Hotel Dublin 27th September 8.15 am


  • I am delighted to open this prestigious event this morning in Dublin’s docklands, an area whose regeneration is very visible evidence of both the success of our government’s economic policies and demonstrating what real plan-led development delivers for our society.


  • Your event today comes hot on the heels of yesterday’s Government approval of the publication of a consultation draft of Ireland 2040 – The National Planning Framework.


  • The views of the public, including your organisation, are now invited up until 3rd November 2017 and indeed Mr Niall Cussen, my Department’s Chief Planner will give a brief run-through the document later this morning.


  • Furthermore, when finalised later this year after the current public consultation phase, the Government intends to publish the final version of the NPF with a 10 year capital investment programme or National Investment Plan as both a strategic vision and the investment strategy to transform our country.


  • We will ensure that investment in housing, transport, communications, energy systems, amenities and community facilities are sequenced properly, achieving long-term agreed planning aims.


  • The key elements of the strategy behind Ireland 2040 are:
  1. Better strategically planning for our cities, including Dublin as our capital and key international driver;
  2. Growing Ireland’s four other cities (Cork, Waterford, Galway and Limerick), by 40-50% in the two decades ahead, (a faster rate than our capital).
  3. Addressing connectivity to and opportunities within Ireland’s regions and rural areas; and
  4. Securing more compact forms of development to reduce sprawl and to provide more choice.


  • With our population expected to grow by 1million people by 2040, we need to manage such growth effectively, this means
    • a quarter of those being facilitated in the Greater Dublin Area,
    • a further quarter catered for in the other four cities; and
    • the remaining 50% within the towns, villages and rural areas across the country and on a proportionate basis.


  • Successful implementation of the NPF will translate into a more strategic development path for our country with a better distribution of regional growth, employment and prosperity.


Housing & Rebuilding Ireland

  • Beyond the strategic focus of Ireland 2040, the number one issue the Government currently faces is housing and homelessness.


  • Currently, every working day, we provide housing for 80 individuals and families.  There are 20,000 new tenancies a year because we believe everyone should have a home.


  • We are being imaginative in how we approach the crisis, and we will do all that is necessary to solve it.


  • We will build more council houses and apartments and we will service the ample amounts of development land our planning process has already identified, not fuelling a further urban sprawl by zoning more land.


  • To deliver more homes in the places we need them most – in our cities, as well as to deliver on the aims and objectives of Ireland 2040 in terms of compact development over the longer-term, we will make apartments more affordable to provide, in greater numbers in our city centre areas.


  • In this regard, Ireland 2040 clearly signals that we need to develop upwards, rather than outwards in our cities using the huge potential from state owned lands through a new estate and portfolio management approach.


  • We have made significant progress under Rebuilding Ireland – the Government’s Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, for example over 19,000 new social housing solutions were provided in 2016, with a further 21,000 such supports to be delivered in 2017.


  • However, significant challenges remain and, one year on from Rebuilding Ireland’s publication, a focused review has been carried out, to assess the impacts of the new investments, policies and initiatives and consider where to focus and redouble efforts to address the supply and affordability issues that persist.


  • Amongst other things, the review is aiming to:
  • identify additional measures, particularly, new/additional supply side measures for social, private and rented accommodation, with an emphasis on affordability;
  • deliver a range of ambitious and realistic measures to address vacant housing and provide a disincentive to vacancy in future;
    • find ways of reducing construction costs and improving the viability of apartment and house building;
    • identify ways of delivering sustainable mixed tenure solutions on sites of scale;
    • Further ramp up of the direct local authority social housing building programme; and introduce of a new affordable housing policy.


  • Your organisation is unique because of the way in which it brings the many facets of our property sector together, from funding to planning and from construction to property management.


  • Your organisation has a huge role to play in helping Government to develop and adjust the regulatory and policy framework for the development of a healthy property sector and one that plays a proper and proportionate role in our society and economy.


  • My Department looks forward to working with Property Industry Ireland in the ongoing implementation of Rebuilding Ireland and in finalising and implementing Ireland 2040 and very much appreciates the valuable input and submissions received from your organisation to these processes.









Speech to Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland in Maynooth

Action Plan for Housing, Action Plan for Jobs, Apprenticeships, Brexit, Budget 2017, Funding, Housing and Urban Renewal, Jobs, Meath, Navan, North Meath, Rebuilding Ireland, Speeches, Trim, Wesmeath

Address by Mr. Damien English, T.D. Minister of State

at the

Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland /SCSI National Conference 2017:


Friday, 31 March 2017 at 4:15 p.m. at Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare.


Ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to be here this afternoon at the SCSI National Conference 2017 to explore the many difficult and complex challenges facing the construction sector which are being dealt with by your profession.

As you will all be aware, the Government and I have made it our number one priority to resolve the housing and homelessness crisis and under ‘Rebuilding Ireland – Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness’ we have set out a broadly based and comprehensive set of actions to do just that.

However we cannot implement this plan in isolation. We will need both collaboration and assistance from all of our partners involved in housing provision including industry professionals, such as SCSI members.

Shortage of critical Skills in the Construction Sector

To reach our Rebuilding Ireland objective to increase housing output to at least 25,000 homes per annum by 2021 – a doubling of 2015 output levels – requires the necessary skilled work force to be available.

It is crucuial that any new jobs created are available and accessible to those who are unemployed, and that their wealth of experience and talent can contribute to the recovery of the sector.

Significant work has been carried out under Rebuilding Ireland Department of Education; SOLAS; and the Apprenticeship Council with regard to improving skills and education in the sector and I would encourage continued consultation with the sector in that regard.

Affordability – Housing Delivery Costs

One of the challenges the Government faces is providing quality homes at a cost that is affordable. Under Rebuilding Ireland the Government committed to a broad range of measures to tackle, among other things, some of the costs associated with the provision of housing in the interests of reducing construction overheads.

This included a commitment to undertake a detailed analysis, in conjunction with the construction sector, to benchmark housing delivery input costs in Ireland, in order to facilitate an increased level of housing output into the future.

A working group, chaired by my Department, with a broad range of industry representatives was established late last year and has met several times. I am pleased to say that the group has benefited from positive contributions from industry including members of the SCSI.

Building Control Regulations – Reform

The aim of the building control regulatory framework is to ensure that a home or a building is designed and constructed in compliance with the relevant requirements of the Building Regulations.

Too many serious and unprecedented failures have affected our construction industry and economy over the past decade or so. Failures such as pyrite, defective blocks and fire safety which has given rise to difficulties and distress among the many affected homeowners.

The development of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (S.I. 9 of 2014) was introduced to empower competence and professionalism on construction projects and establishing a chain of responsibility that begins the owner who must assign competent persons to design, build, inspect and certify the building works and who, in turn, must account for their contribution through the lodgement of compliance documentation, inspection plans and statutory certificates.

Social Housing – Getting the balance right

My Department’s policy is to achieve an appropriate and balanced mixture of tenures in new developments in order to avoid large mono tenure estates where difficulties have necessitated considerable public expenditure in regeneration.

My Department provides guidance on the scale of social housing which would be suitable in a particular context or area. This guidance is based on the size of the host town or city and the proportionate nature of the development to ensure good social integration and cohesion. For example a maximum size of 75 dwellings in any single mono tenure housing development applies in large urban areas with proportional reductions in size for smaller towns and villages.

Ideally all developments should provide for a mix of tenures and dwelling sizes to cater for all. Consistent with this policy, Part V of the Planning and Development Act is structured to deliver Social Housing in private housing developments.


Returning to a normally functioning housing and construction sector is critically important in order to support economic growth, social progress and environmental sustainability which will benefit all of our citizens.

While there are many challenges currently facing the housing and the wider construction sectors, we remain fully committed to meeting these challenges.

Ladies and gentlemen thank you for inviting me here today and I wish you every success over the remainder of your conference.

Thank you

Policy Forum Ireland Seminar on “Priorities for the housing sector in Ireland”

Action Plan for Housing, Budget 2017, Speeches

Speech by Minister of State Damien English TD
Policy Forum Ireland Keynote Seminar on
“Priorities for the housing sector in Ireland:
Examining the challenges in social and private

housing following Rebuilding Ireland”

Wednesday 29 March 2017
The future of housing policy in Ireland: implementing the Rebuilding Ireland action plan

Check Against Delivery
Introductory Remarks
I would like to thank the Policy Forum Ireland for inviting me to participate in today’s event.

Housing is a top priority for this Government and getting housing right is a key objective in terms of our future. In particular, we need to increase supply across the spectrum – social, affordable, private, rental and purchase.
We have a strong Action Plan in Rebuilding Ireland and Minister Coveney and I are absolutely committed to its effective delivery.

I’m happy to have this opportunity today to outline progress across the five pillars of the Action Plan and future priorities.

It is just over eight months since the launch of Rebuilding Ireland and today we have an opportunity to reflect on some of the things we’ve done thus far, while acknowledging that more needs to be done and is being done.
While housing supply is the core problem we face, the Action Plan is not simply about bricks and mortar.
The aim has to be to build strong communities, quality properties and to meet the diverse and dynamic housing needs of people more effectively than before.

We need to rethink the manner in which housing is provided and Rebuilding Ireland sets the context for reforming our approaches.  

The public expects us to work together to ensure that affordable, quality and accessible housing across all tenure types is available for all who need it and it is in that spirit that I join you here today.

Indeed, it was through a process of engagement that the Government devised Rebuilding Ireland building on the work of the special Oireachtas Committee on Housing.

I believe that such a partnership approach continues to be critically important during the implementation phase.  
Economic and Construction Industry Outlook
Ireland’s recovery from the sharpest economic contraction in its history is now firmly established.

The ESRI’s latest economic projections forecast a baseline sustainable growth rate for the Irish economy of 3% per annum between now and 2025.

Depending on the final form that BREXIT takes, this baseline scenario may vary upwards or downwards but should remain positive.

With GDP continuing to grow at over 3% per annum and with over two million people in employment, as unemployment has fallen to 6.67%, there is now every reason to be confident about the prospects for further economic growth.
National Planning Framework
You can’t talk about the future of housing without making reference to the new National Planning Framework which is currently being developed as a 20 year strategy for spatial development in Ireland.

We need to plan ahead for a radically different Ireland of 2040 including-

·        A national population increase of around 1 million people;

·        More than one-fifth of Ireland’s total population being over 65;

·        More than 500,000 additional people at work;

·        500,000 homes needing locations much closer to services and amenities; and

·        rebuilding community and commercial life in the hearts of our cities and towns and protecting the many qualities of our rural communities.

The development of a Housing State Land Supply Management Strategy is a critical component of the NPF.

A comprehensive public consultation process was put in place and hundreds of submissions have been received.
The views obtained will help shape a draft NPF which is likely to be submitted to Government in the autumn.
Rebuilding Ireland – Action Plan
Rebuilding Ireland is fundamentally about increasing supply.

Our overall target is to increase total housing output to 25,000 homes per year by 2021, effectively doubling the output of 12,600 homes recorded in 2015 prior to the Rebuilding Ireland.  

Around 15,000 dwellings were completed in 2016 and connected by the ESB to the grid. This is an 18% increase in completions year on year. Of these, 6,289 are in the Greater Dublin Area (4,234 in Dublin) and 8,643 in the rest of the country.

This year we expect output to reach 18,000 homes.

We use ESB connections as an overall proxy for housing completions and have done since the 70’s so it’s an important longitudinal comparator. However, the ESB figures are not the only data we use.

We have detailed information on homelessness, social housing delivery and need and on private planning permissions and construction directly from local authorities and we use these data sources to inform policy.  

Overall, while housing supply is increasing, the mix of supply is still a concern in terms of meeting the broad spectrum of current and future demand, particularly in Dublin and other cities.
For example, of the 15,000 in 2016, 42% were one-off dwellings while only 15% were apartments in our cities, 8% were apartments in Dublin, where the need is greatest and less than 1% were apartments in Cork.

In summary, we are beginning to move in the right direction but the supply shortage continues to put pressure on the entire housing system. The supply mix is still off kilter, with too great a proportion of one off housing and not enough apartments in our cities.

We have published all the data and progress reports on the Rebuilding Ireland website. There are detailed quarterly reports on the website outlining specific progress on each action, under every pillar, including actions under the Strategy for the Rental Sector.

You’ll be glad to hear I won’t bring you through every action this morning just some of the highlights.

Homelessness and Social Housing
Addressing homelessness is a top priority for Government. We have a target on ending the use of hotels and increasing the supply of social housing is the way we are going to achieve this.  

The key focus is to deliver an additional 47,000 social homes by local authorities and approved housing bodies through construction, refurbishment, acquisition and leasing.
Additionally, the Housing Assistance Payment will help us accommodate households in the rental sector.

Last year, nearly 18,400 social housing supports were provided from a housing budget provision of €935 million which was expended in full.  This included nearly 5,300 homes built, refurbished and acquired and some 12,000 Housing Assistance Payment tenancies.
A full schedule of the pipeline of social housing projects and a report, setting out the position at end 2016, has been published by the Department last month.  It shows over 500 projects, involving the construction of over 8,400 units, at various stages in the process, and the up-to-date position will be published quarterly.

The Government has put the funding of €5.3 billion and other resources in place and local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies have seriously ramped up their operations and delivery pipeline.  

Building More Homes
Of course we also need more homes for people that don’t qualify for social housing. In terms of the wider housing market the objective is to double housing output to deliver over 25,000 units per annum on average by 2021.

The ambition is that far more of these units will be mixed tenure and available at more affordable prices.
There’s a huge amount of work going on here to help get key large scale sites moving through: providing infrastructure funding, financing and planning reforms.  
In many ways this is the central cornerstone pillar of Rebuilding Ireland where the Government is using all the levers available, working with local authorities and builders, to get idle sites delivering affordable, mixed tenure housing at scale.

Mixed Tenure Housing on State Lands
First of all we need to make sure that we deliver housing where the State has most levers.

We are at an advanced stage of mapping over 700 State-owned lands for residential development purposes; this is a vital initial step in the new State Housing Land Management Strategy I mentioned earlier.

The next step is to ensure that there is a strong plan to mobilise the most suitable local authority and State sites.

In this regard, O’Devaney Gardens; Oscar Traenor Road; St. Michaels Estate and Corkagh/Grange are good examples in Dublin.

There are opportunities here for local authorities, landowners and developers to innovate and deliver quality product, at affordable prices and at scale, 3,000 homes in total.
Dublin City and South Dublin County Council are doing just that for these sites supported by my Department.

Overcoming Infrastructural Deficits
The Dublin Housing Supply Taskforce identified infrastructural barriers to housing and in order to get sites moving as quickly as possible.

Rebuilding Ireland has put in place a €226 million Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund, better known as LIHAF.

This investment will open up lands to deliver up to 20,000 homes by 2019.  
The announcement yesterday of the successful sites means that the necessary planning, design and enabling works will now begin in earnest.

We are taking a joined up policy approach and the Corkagh site in South Dublin will receive LIHAF funding for a road and pumping station that will open up that site for a JV of 1,000 new homes in a great location between the Naas Road and the railway line. This same approach will be repeated across the Country.

Rental Sector Strategy
The Strategy for the Rental Sector, published last December, provides a road map for the development of a badly needed stable, strong and viable rental sector. This will become a real long term choice for people and families.
The Strategy is centred around the the four critical areas of security, supply, standards and services.

The rental sector took the brunt of the unmet demand in recent years and rents increased to unsustainable levels so we needed to help those people and families.

Therefore, a key measure has been the introduction of Rent Pressure Zones, in the four Dublin local authority areas, in Cork city, and in a further 12 designated areas.

This means that rent increases are capped at 4% per annum for the next three years for approximately 55% of tenancies nationally.  

When we examined the rental market, the demand for student accommodation was identified as a particular pressure point.

We therefore targeted the production of purpose-built student accommodation in key urban areas.
As I mentioned earlier, there is huge scope for more apartments to be built for the Rental market particularly in our cities and this is a key focus of our attention at present.

I’d be interested in your thoughts on how we can accelerate the delivery of build-to-rent apartment developments in particular.

Utilising Existing Homes
We are also anxious to get the most out of the housing stock we have. In social housing we have targeted this for a number of years now bringing around 7,000 homes back into use over the last 3 years.

More broadly, preliminary results from Census 2016 indicate that there are just under 200,000 vacant dwellings nationwide, representing approximately 10% of the overall national housing stock.

A Vacant Housing Re-Use Strategy being prepared by the Housing Agency, working with the Department and other stakeholders, is well advanced.

One of the things we need to do is understand that 200,000 figure much better and target the real opportunities in places where demand is highest.

In the meantime, we have put in place a variety of schemes aimed at getting thousands of empty homes back into use.

The Repair and Leasing Scheme launched with funding of €140m over 5 years to allow Local Authorities and Approved Housing Bodies to bring up to 3,500 vacant private houses into social housing use by 2021.  

An investment fund of €32m is available in 2017 which will enable 800 vacant properties to be brought back into use as new homes for families on Local Authority waiting lists.
A Buy and Renew Initiative is also being introduced, with €25m in funding for 2017, which will enable local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies to purchase and remediate private housing units for social housing use.  

This will secure 150 homes for social housing purposes in 2017.

Importantly, a lot of the problem vacant units are not houses but commercial properties.  We are therefore looking at how Planning and Building Control arrangements can be adapted to facilitate and streamline the conversion of unused commercial properties into residential units.
Budget 2017
The level of ambition evident across the five pillars of the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan has been fully supported by Budget 2017.  

Increased and additional housing-related current and capital funding streams, are complemented by a comprehensive package of housing market supports.

The tax rebate for first time buyers is proving to be a game changer in stimulating demand for new homes as it assists buyers in meeting their deposit requirements and gives confidence to builders that homes put on the market will sell.
All in all, the Government is allocating €1.3 billion to housing programmes this year, a transformational 39% increase over 2016.
 This investment will see the housing needs of over 21,000 households being met in 2017 and the early signs in terms of spend and output are very positive.

In conclusion, we are now very much in the implementation phase of the Rebuilding Ireland programme and people expect to see improved delivery of private, rented and social housing.

All in all, I think the record shows that the Government has a strong and comprehensive plan and that the interventions and actions taken are beginning to work.

I have no doubt that the further actions on LIHAF; Vacant Housing and State land management will also have a major impact. But in housing there is no quick fix and bringing on the increased supply will take time.

Finally, I hope you enjoy the forum and will take the opportunity to network and discuss how we can work together to overcome the housing problems we face and achieve the objectives set out under Rebuilding Ireland.


Speech to Homes of the Future Industry Day

Action Plan for Housing, Speeches

Patrick Durkan, MD Durkan Residential

Address by Mr. Damien English, T.D. Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government

at the Silken Park Industry Day on Wednesday, 22 February at 11.30 a.m.

at the Silken Park Development, Citywest, Dublin 24.


  • Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted to be here this morning to speak at the Durkan Homes Silken Park Passive Development launch.  As a Minister of State with responsibility for building standards and regulations, I am very pleased to be here at what is an exemplar development of passive houses constructed using modern, sustainable building techniques.
  • At the outset, I would like to thank Durkan Homes for inviting me here today and for their commitment to increasing awareness of energy efficiency.
  • I am informed that informed that the development is hardwired for electric vehicle charging point. The pre-cabling of dwellings for Electric Vehicles is a proposal in an amendment to the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive currently under review and these dwelling are cutting edge by including this feature.
  • Energy efficiency and renewable energy are vital to achieving Ireland’s targets under the EU 2020 Climate and Energy strategy and the Paris Agreement and the enabling of electric vehicles and renewables in buildings is a key initiative in addressing the energy system holistically and will significantly facilitate the achievement of Ireland’s Renewable Energy targets.
  • It is important that developers show leadership and innovation in raising awareness of energy efficiency and making it affordable for ordinary homeowners.

Rebuilding Ireland

  • The Government and I have made it our number one priority to resolve the housing and homelessness crisis and under “Rebuilding Ireland” we have set out a broadly based and comprehensive set of actions to do just that.
  • In light of the topic of today’s event I should highlight that a stated core objective of “Rebuilding Ireland” is delivering quality and  energy efficient  housing in a way that meets current needs while supporting  sustainable communities and maximising the contribution of the built environment to addressing climate change

Nearly Zero Energy Buildings & Part L Review

  • The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive has set ambitious building energy performance standards which we are working hard to ensure that we achieve.
  • As you may be aware the Directive defines a Nearly Zero Energy Building or NZEB as a building that has a very high energy performance where the nearly zero or very low amount of energy required should be covered to a very significant extent by energy from renewable sources including energy from renewable sources produced on-site or nearby.This definition was inserted into the Building Regulations in January of this year through the Building Regulations (Amendment) Regulations 2017.
  • My Department intend to launch a public consultation this month in order to review and amend Part L of the Building Regulations to provide for nearly zero energy performance requirements in buildings other than dwellings.
  • This upcoming review of Part L in respect of buildings other than dwellings will clearly set out NZEB performance requirement for new non-residential buildings.  The new regulations will include a requirement for renewable energy on all new buildings. This process will be replicated to amend Part L of the Building Regulations in respect of Dwellings during 2018.


  • While there are many challenges currently facing the housing and the wider construction sectors, we remain fully committed to meeting our climate change and energy efficiency commitments.  Our intentions in this regard are reinforced under “Rebuilding Ireland” which commits us to maximising the contribution of the built environment to addressing climate change.
  • We are fully committed to meeting our obligations under the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and intend that all new buildings will be Nearly Zero Energy Buildings by 31 December 2020 and that new buildings owned and occupied by public authorities will be nearly zero energy after the end of December 2018.
  • Ladies and gentlemen thank you for inviting me here today and I hope you enjoy the rest of the event.
  • Thank you.

Address to the National Housing Conference 2017:

Action Plan for Housing, Rebuilding Ireland, Speeches
Address by Mr. Damien English, T.D.
Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal 
at the National Housing Conference 2017:

Rebuilding Ireland – Delivering a Sustainable Housing Recovery 


Monday, 13 February 2017 at 2:20 p.m.


Main Conference Room, Dublin Castle, Dublin 2.
  • Ladies and gentlemen, as Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal, I am delighted to be here this afternoon to open the National Housing Conference 2017

  • I wish to thank you for taking the time to travel to Dublin this afternoon to attend and take part in the conference.


  • I look forward to listening to you and to hearing your views on‘Rebuilding Ireland – Delivering a Sustainable Housing Recovery’.

  • I wish to thank the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland and my own Department for organising this biennial event.  


  • I understand that as far back as 1969, long before I was born, that our two organisations identified the importance of promoting quality housing in Ireland.  


  • To that end, a joint committee was formed to arrange this biennial event – a forum where the latest developments in housing, both public and private, could be presented and discussed by those involved with their design and delivery.

  • With this in mind, it is important to reiterate that the acute shortage of homes available to those who need them is one of the greatest challenges facing this country today.  


  • It is having a profound effect on the daily lives of many individuals and families who feel they have been failed by the system and who ultimately need homes.

  • As you will all be aware, the Government, my Department, Minister Coveney and I have made it our number one priority to resolve the housing crisis.


  • Rebuilding Ireland’ is our Action Plan which sets out to resolve this societal and economic problem.


  • I am delighted that many of the core themes in our Action Plan will feature strongly in your deliberations over the next two days.


  • Because ‘Rebuilding Ireland’ cannot be implemented in isolation.


  •  Collaboration and assistance is required.


  • They are required from you here today – our partners.  They are required from everyone involved in housing provision:


  • RIAI members
  • Academics
  • Policy makers
  • Planners
  • Local Authorities
  • Approved Housing Bodies
  • Financial Institutions
  • Landowners
  • Site Owners
  • The list is endless

    Rebuilding Ireland: Action Plan

  • “Rebuilding Ireland” sets out a practical and readily implementable group of actions that will increase housing supply in support of creating a functioning and sustainable housing system that is capable of: –

  • providing homes for families in emergency accommodation;

  • tackling the underlying causes of people living on our streets;

  • producing a minimum of 25,000 housing units nation-wide every year by 2020;

  • responding to meet future housing needs post-2020; and

  • delivering more social housing, much faster, in tandem with putting in place financially sustainable mechanisms to meet current and future requirements for social housing supports.
  • Since taking up my role as Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal, I have seen daily the impacts that the housing shortage is having on our people and their families.  I have seen how the system is struggling to cope with, and devise solutions to, our housing problems.

  • “Rebuilding Ireland” is, I believe, an enabling plan that will resolve the housing problems and will solve our housing shortage in Ireland.  


  • The plan is backed up by a commitment of funding.  We have set out €5.35 billion to make a massive impact in providing much needed social housing.


  • We have provisions for a €200m infrastructure fund that will unlock the potential of key sites to deliver thousands of homes to the market.

    2016 Delivery

  • To concentrate on the challenge of delivering more social housing, in a faster manner – I believe that we have made a good start since “Rebuilding Ireland” was first published in July 2016.

  • Last year, over 18,300 social housing supports were provided across a range of delivery programmes.  


  • Preliminary data shows that around 5,280 new social houses were either purchased, leased, remediated or built by local authorities and approved housing bodies.


  • The acquisition of around 1,500 houses and apartments as part of this number, gives early delivery to meet social housing need.  


  • There are still areas in the country where it is still more affordable to buy than to build – and we support such acquisitions where this makes sense.
  • We also continued to remediate vacant social housing in 2016, with around 2,000 brought back to use.

  • The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme delivered 12,000 homes for those on the housing waiting lists in 2016.  HAP is, and will remain, an important element in supporting the provision of housing for those in acute social need.

    Reuse Strategy

  • A central element in “Rebuilding Ireland” is the development of a ‘National Vacant Houses Reuse Strategy’.  Work on this is progressing well.

  • Preliminary results from Census 2016 show 200,000 dwellings (excluding holiday homes and derelict houses) are vacant, some 9.8% of overall housing stock.  By comparison, the Netherlands has a 2.5% vacancy rate.

  • The ‘National Vacant Houses Reuse Strategy’ will be supplemented by a range of other measures including:


  • The development of new urban renewal measures
  • Projects under the Social Housing Capital Programme
  • And the Town and Village Renewal Scheme.

  • I am especially pleased to see that opportunities for reuse of partially vacant premises, by delivering housing over the shop in Irish town and City centres, will be presented here tomorrow.

    Rapid Build

  • In terms of accelerating delivery, we have looked hard at the rapid delivery programme.  We now have a panel of rapid build contractors selected under the new ‘Office of Government Procurement’ contract framework.

  • Using this framework will save time on
    • design
    • procurement and
    • on the construction of social housing

  • At the end of 2016, 350 rapid build units were advancing through various stages of delivery.  Of these, 22 units are being lived in at Poppintree, Ballymun.

  • A further 650 units will be advanced in 2017, with 500 being targeted for delivery in 2018.


  • I note with interest the presentation later today on the topic of‘Off Site fabrication to assist rapid delivery’.

    Quality Housing

  • While innovation in housing design and the mechanisms to support accelerated delivery are to be welcomed, as we return to a more significant scale of housing provision, we must not lose sight of the fundamental principles of quality and sustainability.
  • The quality of our built environment profoundly affects the quality of people’s everyday lives.  In very broad terms, good quality housing, both public and private, in sustainable communities needs to be: –

  • socially & environmentally suitable in terms of density, type, affordability and mix of tenure;

  • appropriate in terms of architectural design and accessibility;

  • adaptable, durable and resource efficient;

  • located in safe, secure and integrated neighbourhoods.

  • I understand there will a number of sessions at conference tomorrow which will closely examine these themes. I will have a particular interest in hearing about your thoughts on ‘Promoting town and city centre regeneration’ in this context.

  • Vince Lombardi, the famous American footballer and coach once said “perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence”.

  • And excellence is what is needed in terms of quality for Irelands housing sector.  


  • Public tolerance for poor building quality has been well and truly exhausted; the mistakes of the past will be avoided.  Together we can ensure that quality and sustainability becomes the watchwords in all we do in Housing for decades to come.


1. Ladies and gentlemen; returning to a sustainable and normal housing and construction sector is critical to support economic growth, social progress and environmental sustainability.

    • While the Government is acting, the challenge does not stop there.  
    • To conclude, I have one ask of you today.  

    • It is vital that, as the actions set out in “Rebuilding Ireland” are implemented, that you


  • The local authorities,
  • The approved housing bodies,
  • The architects,
  • The construction professionals,
  • The planners,
  • The builders and developers of Ireland

  • proactively respond to the housing supply challenge we face.  I have no doubt that together we will succeed.

  • I now look forward to listening to you, to what promises to be a stimulating conference.


  • I wish you every success over the course of the next two days and for your future in the Housing in Ireland.


Speech at Launch of Homes for Smart Ageing Universal Design Challenge

Action Plan for Housing, Active Retirement, Funding, Health, Housing and Urban Renewal, Innovation, Meath, Rebuilding Ireland, Research, Speeches, Wesmeath

Address by Mr. Damien English, T.D.

Minister of State

at the Rebuilding Ireland – Launch of Homes for Smart Ageing Universal Design Challenge

on Tuesday, 31 January 2017 at 10:40 a.m.

at the Department of the Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Conference Room, Custom House, Dublin 1

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted to be here this morning to launch the Rebuilding Ireland – Homes for Smart Ageing Universal Design Challenge. As many of you are aware I announced, last September, at the National Ploughing Championships, that I had provided €100,000 in prize money to support the Design Challenge and today’s launch is the culmination of many months of hard work by the Design Challenge Steering Group, which is chaired by my Department.

At the outset, it is important to reiterate that homelessness and the acute shortage of homes available to those who need them is one of the greatest challenges facing this country today. It is having a profound effect on the daily lives of many individuals and families who feel they have been failed by the system and who urgently require homes.

As I have said before, the Government and I have made it our number one priority to resolve the housing and homelessness crisis and under “Rebuilding Ireland” we have set out a broadly based and comprehensive set of actions to do just that. However we cannot implement this plan without the collaboration and assistance of our partners in industry, our NGO’s and the wider public sector. This Design Challenge is a strong example of that collaboration.

Housing in Ireland and Rebuilding Ireland as a solution to the challenges

  • As you may be aware “Rebuilding Ireland” sets out a practical and readily implementable set of actions that will increase housing supply to create a functioning and sustainable housing system that is capable of: –
  • Providing homes for families in emergency accommodation;
  • Tackling the underlying causes, addiction and otherwise, of people living on our streets;
  • Producing a minimum of 25,000 housing units nation-wide every year by 2020;
  • Responding post-2020 to meet future housing needs;
  • Delivering more social housing, much faster, and putting in place financially sustainable mechanisms to meet current and future requirements for social housing supports.
  • Since taking up this Ministry, I have seen daily the negative impacts that the housing shortage is having on our people and their families and how the whole system is struggling to cope and devise solutions.
  • “Rebuilding Ireland” is, I believe, a really good starting point to resolve these problems. Our commitment of €5.35 billion will go a long way to providing much needed social housing and the €200m infrastructure fund should unlock the potential of key sites to deliver thousands of homes for the market.
  • The Government has set out ambitious targets for the delivery of social housing supports over the lifetime of Rebuilding Ireland. Last year, over 18,300 social housing supports were provided across a range of delivery programmes. Within this, preliminary data show that around 5,280 new social houses were either purchased, leased, remediated or built by local authorities and approved housing bodies across the country using a range of funding mechanisms and delivery programmes.

 Homes for Smart Ageing Universal Design Challenge

In addition to the actions aimed at the accelerated delivery of quality housing and a more responsive housing market, Pillar 2 of the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, contains specific commitments to meet the housing needs of the vulnerable, which includes our older people.

As with many of the themes within Rebuilding Ireland, addressing the needs of older people will require cross-Departmental and inter-agency co-operation and collaboration. In this regard, the commitments in the Action Plan are complementary to the objectives of the Programme for Actions for Smart Ageing published by the Department of the Taoiseach in April last year.

The National Positive Ageing Strategy (NPAS), published in 2013, also provides a framework for cooperation to address age-related policy and service delivery across Government and society in the years ahead. This Strategy is intended to promote older people’s health and well-being so that older people can continue to contribute to social, economic, cultural and family life in their own communities for as long as possible, thereby representing a vision for an age-friendly society.

The Strategy also highlights that ageing is not just a health issue, but rather requires a whole of Government approach to address a range of social, economic and environmental factors that affect the health and wellbeing of our ageing citizens.

The ageing of our population represents one of the most significant demographic and societal developments that Ireland faces in the years ahead, with the number of people over the age of 65 expected to reach 1.4 million by 2041.

Across this same period, the number over the age of 80 is set to quadruple, from 128,000 in 2011 to some 480,000.

The implications for public policy in areas such as housing, health and urban and rural planning are considerable.

Government policy is to support older people to live with dignity and independence in their own homes and communities for as long as possible.

In terms of cost effectiveness, home care costs in Ireland are estimated to be consistently lower than hospitalisation. For many, living in adapted or specialist housing reduces reliance on health and social care services and can result in measurably improved health status and lower rates of hospital admissions, while also contributing to a greater sense of well-being among our older population.

Smart ageing is a broad concept that has been largely defined as using technology and innovation in both the public and private sectors to design and produce products, services, solutions, and systems to improve the quality of life of people ages 50 and over.

Adaptable and smart homes will be the future in the developed world with advantages from saving energy to creating homes suitable for a lifetime. This Design Challenge presents an opportunity to develop the know-how and commercialise the knowledge of smart ageing adaptation to support assisted living for older people in their homes.

In terms of housing there are collaborative approaches already underway involving local authorities; the HSE; the Department of Health and NGO’s (such as Age Friendly Ireland). For example, the Age Friendly Cities and Counties Programme, which provides a local multi-agency collaborative structure in partnership with older people, with local authorities taking the lead on changing thinking about ageing, and how services are planned and delivered.

The Homes for Smart Ageing Universal Design Challenge aims to stimulate and encourage the design and construction industries to be innovative in designing and delivering housing solutions for older people and implements Action 2.19 of Rebuilding Ireland.

This Design Challenge, focuses on three distinct areas: –

  • smart technologies in housing for older people;
  • adaptation of existing houses to meet the needs of older people; and
  • life-time communities.

As I mentioned earlier, my Department, established a steering group comprising the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design which is part of the National Disability Authority, the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland, the Construction Industry Federation, Enterprise Ireland and Dublin City Council.

This steering group, in consultation with stakeholder groups and other interested parties, has developed a comprehensive Design Challenge brief for the competition

This brief sets out clearly how to participate, what is required of potential entrants, and of course details regarding the awarding of prize money amounting to €100,000 that I announced late last year to support this “Homes for Smart Ageing Universal Design Challenge”.


Returning to a normally functioning housing and construction sector is critically important in order to support economic growth, social progress and environmental sustainability which will benefit all of our citizens irrespective of age, size or disability.

While the Government is acting, the challenge does not stop there. It is vital that, as the 84 actions to facilitate house building are implemented, local authorities, approved housing bodies, voluntary bodies, builders and developers proactively respond to the housing supply challenge.

The “Homes for Smart Ageing Universal Design Challenge” is a small but key element of the Rebuilding Ireland solution.

I urge everyone involved in its implementation and those of you here today, to use your networks, contacts and organisations to promote and highlight the Design Challenge in order to elicit support and to invite entries from as many of our talented innovators as possible.

I call on anyone with a novel and inventive idea that can be further presented as a solution; that is feasible, cost effective and has the potential for mainstreaming into the future in support of smart ageing solutions to participate.

With this in mind, I hereby officially launch the “Homes for Smart Ageing Universal Design Challenge” and would like to wish those who take part in the Challenge, every success. I also look forward to seeing the winning ideas and solutions incorporated into the future delivery of good quality housing to those who need it.

Launch of the Meath Local Economic Community Plan for Meath

Meath, Speeches


Speech by Minister Damien English T.D. at the Launch of the Meath Local Economic Community Plan for Meath

Wednesday 18 January 2017

Welcome: –

  • TDs,
  • Cathaoirleach of Meath County Council, Maria Murphy
  • Councillors
  • Chief Executive Meath County Council, Jackie Maguire
  • Chair of the Meath LCDC, Sinead Smith


Part I – Introduction

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are here tonight for the launch of the Meath Local Economic and Community Plan. And also to acknowledge the achievements of those who have worked tirelessly to bring these important plans to this stage.


  • The 2014 Local Government Reform Act provided local authorities with the legislation in relation to the establishment and operation of Local Community and Development Committees (LCDC).
  • One of the primary functions of the LCDC is to develop, implement and monitor a six year Local Economic and Community plan for the county.
  • Nationally there are 31 plans, all prepared by the LCDC in each county and adopted by each county council. Such is their importance I was delighted to take part in their National Launch a few months ago which was an opportunity to recognise all the hard work involved.
  • At the very heart of these plans is the desire to improve community well-being and quality of life.
  • Each plan sets out objectives and actions in the areas of:


  • economic development,
  • social inclusion and community development
  • health and wellbeing,
  • rural and urban regeneration,
  • investment and infrastructure needed to promote and support the local community development of their county over the six years.


  • Economic development and community development while separate functions, are mutually supportive in creating strong communities and local economies.


  • Those of us involved in this area – whether as volunteers, officials or elected representatives – will be acutely aware of the myriad of reports over the past 20 years that have called for a more joined-up approach to local service delivery.


  • Those working at a more local level in our communities, and indeed communities themselves, have experienced first-hand the need for Government and local agencies to better coordinate their efforts and resources.


  • Whichever side you’ve been on, one thing is agreed, there is plenty of room for improvement.


  • Now, for the first time, we have a planning framework and structures in place to make this happen.


  • These Local Economic and Community Plans are the ideal mechanism through which this much needed coordination, collaboration and integration can happen.


  • At the same time, the establishment LCDC provides a forum for meaningful engagement, coordination and dialogue.



  • So, supported by an expanded local authority economic role, a space has been created for central government, local government and communities to:


  • talk to each other;
  • to identify important local economic and social priorities;
  • to develop locally agreed solutions for these;


  • Ultimately, to ensure that it is all delivered in the most effective way possible.   That is, delivered in a way that has the biggest positive impact on people’s lives.


Part II – The Plan

  • This Plan establishes a blueprint for the development of our county, co Meath. It represents a better and more joined-up way of delivering local services. It brings people together in partnership to consider, decide on and do what is best for our communities. And most importantly, it is based on what our communities (you yourselves) consider to be your priorities and involves you in the development of policies that affect our lives.
  • Although the Plan is very much focused on Meath, it is a piece of a much bigger jigsaw. Yes, it is part of a network of Plans that seek to foster and bring about a much needed integration of local service delivery.


  • The plan has its place in the development of the broader region and the implementation of national policies.


  • A number of organisations locally will assist with the delivery of these actions. These include public bodies, state agencies and a wide range of local community and voluntary groups.


  • Through the Public Participation Networks (PPN) the LCDC provide a mechanism by which the community and voluntary sector can meaningfully participate in local development and in the delivery of actions set out in the plan.



  • This plan will also enable the targeting of funding under the management of LCDC partners and other publicly funded agencies.


Part III – The Delivery


  • The delivery of the Local Economic and Community Plans nationally is vital.


  • The strength and composition of the LCDC plays a major role in the delivery of these actions.


  • It is the combination of the County Council, agencies, voluntary sector and community groups that are central and best positioned to mobilise relevant groups to deliver the Plan.


  • It is important that public bodies cooperate with the Meath LCDC as this greatly strengthens the potential to deliver agreed actions in the plan that are ultimately designed to improve the economic, social and cultural aspect of our local areas.


  • Here in Meath, the LECP was developed jointly by the LCDC and the Council’s Economic SPC.


  • The preparation involved numerous consultations and workshops with statutory bodies, voluntary agencies, community and voluntary groups, the secretariat of the newly formed PPN and Comhairle na Nóg – the young people’s council – were consulted.


  • Reading through this plan, and the other county plans which I have read, you can see that they are unique to each area.


  • They reflect the specific priorities of those areas and, to a smaller extent, the different regions.   That said, there are also broadly similar themes consistent to them all.


  • They deal with priorities that are important to all communities – be it:
    • Education or the environment
    • integration or youth services
    • health and well-being,
    • tourism and employment.
  • All 31 plans reflect an impressive breadth of ambition for their areas.
    • They are all underpinned by a shared vision.
    • They are all products of meaningful engagement and participation by all.
    • They all draw on wealth of assets in their communities


Part IV – Actions


  • Individually of course, they include some exciting and innovative actions.   Actions that show not only local coordination, but also people working together on a regional basis.
  • Or actions across all the plans to deliver on the Healthy Ireland strategy, they show a willingness and capacity to work jointly for the good of their local communities.


Some actions already achieved in the plan:


  • Number 1: A new Intreo office was opened in Navan by DSP for employment services and income supports with a range of personalised supports to jobseekers.


  • Number 2: The Council has commenced a process with DSP of transferring existing rent supplement recipients to the Housing Assistance Programme (HAP)


  • Number 3: The Council are working with Kells Local Heroes to support the ‘Bigger Picture’ initiative of public seminars to focus on how architecture and design, arts and culture, biodiversity and landscaping can improve a town – Greening of Kells



  • Number 4: The Meath Intercultural Network organised a one stop shop event with the Immigrant Council of Ireland. Various agencies had stands with information on social welfare, housing and voting rights


  • Number 5: The Navan Healthy Town initiative was rolled out in September for 8 weeks which proved very successful with more groups and the public getting involved in a Healthy Ireland.


  • Personally speaking, I enjoyed taking part in this. I gave up the biscuits and I focused on running. I completed the Dublin City Marathon in 4 hours and 26 minutes and I am already planning for next year’s race in under 4 hours.


  • And Number 6: Actions for “renew our communities” and information on communities — the newly formed Public Participation Network has now over 444 groups registered. It also has a website, newsletter and is currently working on a comprehensive litter and waste survey.



Part V – Conclusion

  • To conclude, this plan requires everybody to continue working together, from the agencies to your community or voluntary group, to deliver on these actions set out.
  • I wish you every success with the plan, and with completing and adding more actions to achieve along the way.


  • I want to thank everybody for coming this evening.
    • Barry Lynch, Director of Community and Chief Officer of LCDC and Community section of council.
    • The Agencies for all the information stands today.
    • The LCDC members attending.
    • The Speakers – Cathaoirleach Maria Murphy and Chair of Meath LCDC Sinead Smith
    • All the staff, officials, consultants involved in the preparations, seminars, workshops held in developing the plan.

Once again the progress already made speaks very strongly to the commitment and hard work of all involved. I thank you for this and I look forward to the full implementation over the next five years. Enjoy the rest of the evening.

‘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.


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.