Dáil Éireann - Volume 291 - 29 June, 1976

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Donegal Houses.

19. Mr. Brennan asked the Minister for Local Government when money will be available to Donegal County Council to enable them to complete 200 specific instance houses which are urgently required.

Mr. Tully: Under devolved procedures it is a matter for the local authorities themselves to decide within available resources what houses, whether in schemes or specific instance houses, they will provide in any year.

I will be reviewing the overall local authority housing programme shortly and Donegal County Council's application for a further capital allocation will be considered in conjunction with the claims from other housing authorities. I might add that Donegal County Council's allocation to date in 1976 of £2,132,000 is a record and compares with £873,400 allocated in 1972-73.

Mr. Brennan: The Minister will agree it is costing four times as much to build a house now as it did when he first came into office and is he also aware that on the list of specific instance applications there are people in such dire need as those whose houses were demolished by fire and they are living, with large families, in temporary accomodation, caravans or mobile homes, and could he not— it is now some months since the deputation from Donegal visited him— make money available for these houses and cut out all the nonsense?

An Ceann Comhairle: A brief question, please, Deputy.

[1854] Mr. Brennan: Does the Minister recall two famous occasions in this House in the flush of his appointment when he announced there would be no shortage of money for housing? Is that still the position?

Mr. Tully: Yes. If Deputy Brennan will allow me, the position is that in Donegal at the present time there are 402 local authority houses in progress, 402 in a county where, despite a number of Ministers for Local Government, a relatively small number of houses was built over the years.

Mr. Brennan: That has nothing to do with the question.

Mr. Tully: I know the facts confuse certain people——

Mr. Brennan: They confuse nobody.

Mr. Tully: ——but, at the same time, I want to put them on the record of the House: 24 specific instance houses and 34 small farmers cottages and at tender there are 377, including 146 specific instance and 103 small farmers, and at planning there are a further 88 and, since 1st January this year, 73 houses were completed. Deputy Brennan asked me about people who were burned out being housed. How would we at local government level make provision for someone who got burned out? Surely Donegal County Council has the same method as every other county council in the country has of providing houses as a matter of urgency by way of temporary accomodation at least for people unfortunate enough to have their houses burned down. We must face the situation as it is.

Mr. Brennan: Donegal County Council have an excellent housing record. The Minister should be aware that housing is an on-going problem which increases year by year. He must also be aware that, irrespective of how he wishes to use the figures, this is no consolation to people who are in dire need of housing and who are getting letters from the county council saying: “We regret there are no funds available for building houses”.

Deputies: Hear, hear.

[1855] Mr. Brennan: That is the position as of now. The Minister cannot get away from it.

Mr. Tully: Can I take it——

Mr. Brennan: That is the position into which the Minister has plunged himself.

Mr. Tully: ——from Deputy Brennan now (a) that he is prepared to back with his feet any money we will require through this year for building any number of houses or (b) does he agree with his leader that there should be a cut back on capital expenditure?

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Order.

Mr. Tully: I heard what was said. I heard your leader talking about public capital expenditure and saying it should be cut back. We were spending too much money. Deputies opposite cannot have it both ways. The houses are being built, but not with the co-operation of Deputies opposite and they are being built in spite of the way the matter has been dealt with by Opposition Deputies in this House.

An Ceann Comhairle: A final supplementary from Deputy Brennan.

Mr. Brennan: We want to know from the Minister what is he doing about houses as of now. There is no money available and what is he doing to provide money for housing?

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy has already asked that question.

Mr. Brennan: We want an answer to that.

Mr. Tully: I have given the answer.

Mr. Brennan: Where are the unlimited funds promised when Deputy Tully became Minister for Local Government?

Mr. Tully: I will give the Deputy the answer now. There are 402 houses being built in Donegal at the present time. Maybe he was not down there and did not see them, but they are being built, and there are a further 377 and, when the revision takes place in a couple of months time, whatever [1856] money can be given to Donegal and to the other counties will be given. There is no point in trying to put a twist on it over there because we built more than twice as many local authority houses as compared with the best Fianna Fáil could do.

Mr. Brennan: I am asking the Minister what is the provision now. There is no money and the housing programme is at a standstill.

An Ceann Comhairle: I am calling the next question. Question No. 20. Deputy Brennan has already asked that question.

Mr. Brennan: The Minister said at the outset that when he reached a certain point——

An Ceann Comhairle: Order. I have called the next question.

Mr. Brennan: ——he would call a halt.

An Ceann Comhairle: I have given Deputy Brennan every latitude. I have called the next question.

Mr. Tully: You were told that when 25,000 houses were built we would stop and we went over that.

Mr. Brennan: We were told there would be no shortage of money for houses. There is no good in grinning and huffing. The Minister is caught on the horns of a dilemma.

An Ceann Comhairle: Order. Question No. 20.