Pat Casey T.D.
Public Representative for Wicklow/East Carlow

Pat Casey T.D.Public Representative for Wicklow/East Carlow


Credit Unions Need to be Involved in Social and Affordable Housing, 13/09/2018


Credit Unions need to be involved in social and affordable housing – Casey

Following the announcement of the National Land Development Agency, Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing, Pat Casey TD has said a significant source of funding for social and affordable housing has been completely ignored by the Government.

Commenting, Deputy Casey said, "it is estimated that Credit Unions collectively have around €8.5 billion held in investments and the return on these investments is not substantial. Time and time again the Credit Union movement have come forward with proposals to invest a portion of that money in a social and affordable housing model.”

"Previously, a major restriction was the Central Bank's investment rules for Credit Unions which prevented them from pooling their investments in Approved Housing Bodies. However, these regulations were thankfully changed earlier this year which now means Credit Unions can start to make an impact on the housing crisis.”

“In Wicklow where house prices in many parts of the County are now beyond boom levels and unaffordable, utilising these funds will allow Wicklow families to live in their own community. The lack of affordable housing in Wicklow is now as serious as the lack of social housing. People are being forced out of their communities in Wicklow because of unaffordable houses.”

"What is clearly lacking here is leadership from Government.  We are still awaiting any meaningful proposal from the Government to establish a funding model that can utilise Credit Union funds to build, sell or rent social and affordable housing. This is delay is yet more evidence of a Government that is asleep at the wheel. “

"Access to credit is a major stumbling block in the housing crisis and at the same time credit unions are crying out for viable long term investments.  We need the Government to take leadership on this and bring forward proposals for the Credit Union sector", concluded Casey.

 

ENDS

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Population Growth Time Bomb Could Destroy Economic Development in Wicklow, 31/08/2018


Government’s Population Growth time bomb could destroy housing growth in Wicklow – Pat Casey TD

 - Fine Gaels plans could halt housing and business development throughout Co Wicklow –

Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Housing and Urban Renewal Pat Casey TD has heavily criticised the Government National Planning Framework Population Growth Figures for Wicklow as “disastrous and would if implemented destroy housing and employment growth in every town and village in Wicklow.”

“Wicklow based housing and economic development is one of my highest priorities since entering national politics. I have been warning that since late last year that the Government’s population growth plans are potential disastrous for Wicklow and I have since been confirmed in that view by draft Regional Spatial & Economic Strategies to be published later in September.”

“Population Growth figures under Fine Gaels National Development Plan would affect every town and village in Wicklow and reverse our ability to develop housing and job developments in those communities. The growth plans are so narrow that in fact the local authority will have to stop granting planning permissions for housing. This is madness!”

“Let’s take a few examples, taxpayers have invested up to €100 million in Wicklow Towns infrastructure such as the waste water plant and the Port access road which will enable our County Town to grow both in terms of housing and economic and industrial development. This investment will be wasted if we cannot grant permissions for housing until 2026. Under the current Fine Gael led projections, Wicklow Town will have to go backwards!”

“In Arklow we are about to invest €40 million in an urgently needed waste water treatment plant which in turn will allow essential housing development to take place in this long neglected South Wicklow town. Once again the current population growth restrictions to be enforced by the Fine Gael Government will prevent Arklow from the new era it deserves and has for so long waited for. This is totally unjust.”

“In Blessington, Irish Water have agreed that the waste water treatment plant is due an urgent upgrade to ensure that urgent housing can be built in this commuter town. Once again the growth restrictions that are being imposed in all towns and villages in West Wicklow will prevent any housing permissions. Have the Government not heard about the Housing Crisis? This is insane and must be stopped.”

“I was the first politician in Wicklow to identify these restrictions being imposed by Government through my work on the Housing, Planning and Local Government Committee. I call on all politicians in Wicklow and indeed in other affected local authority areas to join with me in amending these rules as a matter of urgency. I will be raising this matter again in the Dáil at the earliest opportunity.”

ENDS

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Leaving Cert Celebrations now Damaged by Accommodation Crisis, 16/08/2018


Third level education out of reach as student accommodation crisis deepens – Casey

 

- Time of celebration for many Wicklow families ruined by lack of student accommodation -

 

Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow has criticised the Government over its failure to deliver affordable student accommodation.

Deputy Casey said, “The recently published Government report on student accommodation amounts to little more than a whitewash. It claims that progress is being made in providing student accommodation. This is despite the fact that an increasing number of students are unable to meet basic accommodation costs.

“This weeks leaving cert results are a time of joy for many families in Wicklow as years of hard work have now paid off with a place in a third level institution. However the joy will soon be turned to anxiety and dread as the search for accommodation begins in earnest. For many that search will be fruitless and Wicklow students will be forced to commute placing extra strain on what should be an exciting new chapter in life.”

“The reality is that much of the new student accommodation is being built privately and rented out at exorbitant rates. The average going rate for student accommodation is now €1,400. Such rents are not affordable for a person working, let alone a student who has a much reduced income.

“Students have been hit with massive rent increases for next year in many parts of the country. Students in Shanowen in Santry have been hit with a 50% increase in rent, which follows a 30% increase on last year.”

“The Government has rejected proposals put forward by Fianna Fáil to prevent unreasonable rental increases for students. We have put forward a Bill to extend Rent Pressure Zones to student accommodation. The Government should accept this proposal instead of clapping itself on the back for presiding over a situation where students are being forced out of accommodation due to exorbitant rent increases,” concluded Deputy Casey.


-ENDS-

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Permanent TSP Takes Easy Way Out with Loan Sale , 09/08/2018


Permanent TSB takes the easy way out with loan sale - Casey

- Start Mortgages must make itself available for Oireachtas scrutiny -

 Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow Pat Casey has said Start Mortgages must come before the Oireachtas Finance Committee to outline how they will deal with customers in arrears following today’s announcement that they are to purchase 10,700 non-performing loans from Permanent TSB, many in Wicklow. 

Deputy Casey commented, "Portfolio loan sales such as this are the easy way out for the banks as they strive to reduce their level of non-performing loans. It would be much better if Permanent TSB dealt with the loans itself and made case by case decisions involving restructuring the loans, writing off debt in some cases and only taking enforcement action as a last resort. 

"While it is a positive at least that Start Mortgages is a regulated entity, there will be understandable concern among affected borrowers given its background as a sub-prime lender and the fact that it is owned by giant US vulture fund Lone Star. A key question is whether Start Mortgages will now offer a wide suite of restructuring solutions to Wicklow borrowers in arrears.   

"Lone Star has refused on several occasions over this past eighteen months to come before the Oireachtas Finance Committee. Having bought these loans, they now have an obligation to come before us and explain what their strategy is for managing them. When the Minister for Finance is consulted on this loan sale, he has to ensure Start Mortgages makes itself available for parliamentary scrutiny and oversight. 

"In addition to the enactment of Fianna Fáil legislation requiring loan owners to be regulated by the Central Bank, we also need to see changes to the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears requiring loan owners to consider all possible restructuring options - and not just the options considered by that institution. This would be a vital step to help those borrowers in Wicklow who are engaging with their lender to find a solution that allows them keep their home,” concluded the Wicklow TD.

-ENDS-

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Homelessness Failure Making Citizens Despair of Politics, 26/07/2018


Homelessness failure causing citizens to become disenchanted with politics and politicians – Pat Casey TD


Fianna Fáil’s Housing Spokesperson, Pat Casey TD has said that the failure of the Housing Minister, Eoghan Murphy to stem the homelessness crisis is one of the main reasons why the public are becoming disenchanted with politics and with politicians.

Deputy Casey was commenting following the release of the latest homelessness figures which counts 9,872 as being homeless, including 3,824 children. “They make grim reading with no progress made in terms of stemming the flow of families presenting as homeless or moving people out of emergency accommodation into long term housing. 

“Consistent increases in the overall homelessness numbers over the past five years including many all over the county of Wicklow, despite regular announcements of plans and strategies have destroyed confidence in the ability of the political system to deliver. 

“People are being turned off politics and politicians by the inability of Government Ministers to keep their promises on housing and to make progress. Successive Housing Ministers have launched plan after plan and every single one of them has failed to stem the homelessness crisis.”

“You really can’t blame Wicklow citizens for feeling disenchanted with a political system that continually fails on an issue that, to most people, is easy to fix. Building homes for people isn’t rocket science. The State has, in the past, done that, and done it well.”

“The twin issues of supply and affordability must be dealt with. Until more public housing comes on stream, we will never truly get ahead on the homelessness crisis”.

“It’s now very likely that the 2018 public housing output will barely match the paltry number, less than 800 nationally with a paltry number in Wicklow, of public housing units brought on stream in 2017. The Minister must focus on delivery and overcome the clear blockages in the system that are stopping public housing being built.”

“The homelessness and overall crises is a scar on Ireland’s record. At what point will Minister Murphy realise that plans aren’t what people want, they want shovels in the ground building homes for the 9,872 mums, dads and children that are languishing today in emergency accommodation,” concluded Casey.”

-ENDS-

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Housing Policy on Older People is Essential, 16/07/2018


The Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government has published its ‘Report on Housing Options for Older People.’ – Pat Casey TD, Vice Chair

Last week in the 'Great Northern Haven', a unique housing development at Barrack Street, Dundalk, which uses cutting edge technology to provide accommodation for older people, Committee Vice-Chairperson, Pat Casey TD, said, “Ireland as a nation is growing older and living longer and this is something to be celebrated. However, as the population of older people increases, Wicklow will have to adapt its current housing policy to facilitate this change in demographics. We must begin the conversation about the changes in our society today so the future doesn’t surprise us. With this in mind, the Committee undertook a series of meetings and stakeholder engagement with the aim of publishing a report that would assist in the future planning in this area.”

“The report we have published today makes eight practical recommendations, taking into consideration the health, social and economic needs of older people. In order for older people to live at home and in their own communities for as long as possible, we are recommending that the Housing Adaption Grant eligibility age be lowered from 66 to 60. This would go a long way towards making homes more suitable for an older person and allow them to have necessary adaptions made in good time, rather than perhaps at a later time when a health issue develops, perhaps suddenly.”

“The Committee is also calling for mechanisms to be developed which would incentivise and promote the construction of housing options and residential care facilities located in town centres or central locations within easy access of local services. Isolation is a real concern for older people and it is important that housing developments for older people are within easy access of transport links and social opportunities.”

The Committee have made eight recommendations in total including:

• housing typologies in housing developments be required to match the age demographic of the area        in which the development is being proposed;
• that mechanisms be developed to incentivise and promote the construction of housing options and        residential care facilities located in town centres or central locations within easy access of local                  services;
• that the Housing Adaption Grant eligibility be lowered from 66 years of age to 60 years of age;
• that a cost benefit analysis be conducted into the exact costs per unit and the corresponding long            term savings of implementing universal design into all housing
• that funding be standardised across local authorities for the Housing Adaption Grant.

-Ends -For Further Info please contact Pat

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FF Bill to Provide Ombudsman for Multi-Development Owners, 05/07/2018


FF Bill establishes Ombudsman for Owner Management Companies

New bill will help strengthen corporate governance & quality of life for some 1,000’s living in multi-unit developments in Wicklow -

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing, Pat Casey TD has welcomed a new bill introduced by his party in Dáil Éireann that is aimed at establishing an Ombudsman for Owner Management Companies (OMCs).

The Ombudsman will be based within the Property Services Regulatory Authority with an estimated running cost of €500,000 per annum. This body will help in training board members, assist in dispute reconciliation and make recommendations on the future development of the housing sector.

Deputy Casey stated, “A recent submission made by the Apartment Owners Network and the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland to the Oireachtas Committee on Housing, estimated that nearly 500,000 people live in multi-unit developments in Ireland with thousands in Wicklow in towns such as Bray, Greystones, Wicklow and Arklow.

“The majority of these developments are run by Owner Management Companies.

“I very much pay tribute to the volunteer efforts of those involved in an OMC, which is essential to maintaining a high standard of living for the residents in their complex. As it stands, the Department do not provide resources to assist with their work.

“These OMCs are governed by dense company law that many residents may not be familiar with, must adhere to strict housing regulations and deal with the Department of Justices’ property rights.

“The Bill we have introduced this week, if passed, will provide for the establishment of a new, central body focused on supporting the sector and advising those that lead these companies for the greater good of the development they live in.

“The core duties of the Ombudsman will include assisting with dispute resolution and the provision of both key training and advice services. It will also help develop updated policy in the area and highlight key issues of concern.

“It’s been promised that 35,000 new units will be built per annum up to the year 2040 and many of these, if built, will be run by such companies that will support. It is crucial that we are proactive in ensuring the highest level of governance is achieved and maintained.

“By introducing this Bill, we are proposing that an Ombudsman is formed to work for the half a million people living in apartment complexes and estates run by Owner Management Companies throughout the country,” Casey concluded.

-ENDS-

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Shared Apprenticeship Scheme an Essential Tool for Housing , 14/06/2018


Decision to not progress with piloted Shared Apprenticeship Scheme in construction sector is premature – Casey

New info reveals pilot project for enabling builders to share apprenticeships has been abandoned with no replacement to date -

Fianna Fáil Housing Spokesperson, Pat Casey TD has criticised the Government’s failure to replace a Shared Apprenticeship Scheme model in Ireland.

The Deputy received details this month which indicates that the successfully piloted Shared Apprenticeship Scheme carried out between SOLAS, in partnership with Construction Industry Federation (CIF) and the Waterford Wexford Education and Training Board (WWETB) in 2017 will not be adopted.

Despite the known success of this model in boosting apprenticeship numbers in Britain, the pilot initiative to test the viability of the same scheme here in Ireland will not be extended.

It is now understood that while discussions with the construction industry are on-going, no replacement has been put in place. 

Deputy Casey said, “Getting to grips with the ongoing housing crisis in this country urgently demands more skilled workers to ramp up the construction of units and put bricks and mortar in the ground.

“The Construction Industry Federation has predicted that 3,840 construction related apprentices will be required by 2020. In the region of 2,500 apprenticeships were registered in 2017 during the pilot initiative but now that’s gone to the wall and we have no plan in place to boost the intake.

“Young people in Wicklow need to be given a clearer avenue and more opportunity to take up work in the construction sector so that we are better able secure the scale of workforce required to build affordable homes across Ireland.

Shared Apprenticeships Schemes are mutually beneficial when appropriately managed and have the potential to encourage young perspective construction workers, reduce costs for the builders that take them on and support smaller companies expand.

“This decision to abandon the pilot project is incredibly premature given we need to attract and retain apprenticeships for both employers and employees alike.

Ireland’s ability to attract skill sets in construction is already limited and now we’ve restricted it even more during a time we should be nurturing those interested in pursuing construction work.

He concluded, “I am calling on the Minister for Skills, John Halligan TD to accelerate discussions between SOLAS and the construction industry and also reconsider the shared mechanism designed to boost the number of apprentices,” Deputy Casey concluded.

Ends –

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Hidden Homeless a Big Issue in Wicklow, 07/06/2018


Hidden Homelessness is a problem in Wicklow – Casey

-       Figures on homelessness don’t capture the true extent of Wicklow’s housing crisis -

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing, Pat Casey TD has said that the State is encouraging people and families into hidden homelessness by failing to provide pathways towards long term housing solutions.

The Deputy was commenting following this last week’s briefing held by leading NGO’s; Barnardos, Focus Ireland, the Simon Community and St Vincent de Paul.

He said, “Homelessness is sadly no longer just about those sleeping rough on our streets or the thousands of people living in temporary accommodation but also about the sizeable number of hidden from our view and exempt from housing supports.”

“Those who have found themselves to be without a place to call home, hidden from official statistics and not receiving support, can find themselves in precarious situations including couch surfing. I have seen many instances of this in my Arklow office.”

“It’s somewhat difficult to quantify hidden homelessness but we do know that the severe shortage of social and affordable housing is forcing countless children and families into overcrowded, unsuitable and insecure accommodation across the county.

 “When those forced into homelessness present themselves to a Local Authority the default position is to suggest that they stay with friends, family or another support network but this is not a reasonable solution.”

“It does not address the matter as to why the 3,000 or so people waiting on public housing in Wicklow are in hidden homelessness to survive. Neither does it determine why the Government’s targets on housing development aren’t being met despite not even being high enough to begin with.”

”It’s pretty telling that there wasn’t one single representative of Government in attendance this week to hear the hard facts that were presented by the representative of each organisation.”

“It’s no surprise then either that it is a sheer lack of political will that’s preventing both the establishment of our proposed Affordable Housing Scheme to utilise State owned lands for the development of housing, and achieving any progress on the Affordable Rent Scheme that was announced in 2015.

“Our Local Authorities have an obligation and responsibility to harness the potential of State owned vacant land. We cannot accept the unwillingness to develop these sites.  

He concluded, “There is no doubt in my mind that this Government can prevent the situation becoming any more acute by having the will to help and support people before they reach homelessness and become just another figure on the growing lists.”

Ends – For Further Info please contact Pat

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Change Needed to First Time Buyer Rule for Returning Emigrants, 31/05/2018


Change needed to first time buyer rule for returning emigrants – Casey

- Revenue, Central Bank & Dept of Housing all use different definitions -

 Wicklow Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing, Pat Casey TD has said the Central Bank should treat returning emigrants who have never owned a home in Ireland as being first time buyers here.

Deputy Casey commented, “Under existing Central Bank rules, a returning emigrant who borrowed to purchase a home at any stage abroad but never in Ireland is treated as a non-first time buyer. This means they are faced with a 20% deposit requirement if they wish to purchase a home here, instead of the 10% requirement if they were regarded as first time buyers. To make matters worse for them, they are also excluded from the Government’s Help to Buy scheme for first time buyers.

“At a time when the State is trying to attract emigrants back to Ireland, this is exactly the type of issue that needs to be addressed. An emigrant may have owned an apartment or house abroad for a period of time and then sold it. They may not have the type of lump sum needed to meet the 20% deposit requirement. In my view, the fact that they never owned a home in Ireland means they should be regarded as a first time buyer here.

“The reality is that the Revenue Commissioners, the Central Bank and the Department of Housing all have different definitions of first time buyer. For example, under certain circumstances, a person who is divorced or legally separated and who previously owned a home, may be treated as a first time buyer for the purposes of qualifying for the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan Scheme. However, the Revenue and the Central Bank allow no such exemption.

“The definition of first time buyer needs to be reviewed. A good place to start would be for the Central Bank to allow returning emigrants to be treated as a first time buyer if they never owned a home here. I raised this issue recently with the Governor of the Central Bank at the Oireachtas Finance Committee. He undertook to write to Fianna Fáil on the matter. We look forward to his reply.”

Ends – For Further Info please contact Pat

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Government Must Act on Affordable Housing, 17/05/2018


State-led Affordable Housing Scheme must form central part of Government policy – Casey

      - FF motion calls for use of State & Local Authority owned lands to kick-start development of affordable homes -

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing, Pat Casey TD has said that this Government must take real action on establishing a new State-led Affordable Housing Scheme to support those struggling to own their own home.

The Deputy was speaking in the Dail during Fianna Fáil’s Private Members Business motion yesterday evening.

He said, “The Affordable Housing Scheme which was stood down by the Fine Gael-Labour Government in 2011 had aimed to proactively build units for sale or rent. Unfortunately, since then this Government has categorically failed to deliver a single affordable home. In fact, house prices have soared by 90% over the past seven years.”

“The capping of supports for Houses buyers in Wicklow and the income thresholds involved are forcing many people who are born and bred in Wicklow, who want to own a home in their own community, to be priced out of their home County. Wicklow is being gentrified by cash rich, middle class Dublin. Maybe this is Fine Gaels master plan!”

“We need to give those working and paying taxes the opportunity to own their own home but as house prices rise beyond all reasonable affordability, the Government needs to make immediate moves to follow through on its commitment to expedite the delivery of affordable homes.

“An Affordable Housing Scheme should be used to kickstart development housing units in areas where supply is weakest and where prices are highest. This must involve an initial capital investment by the State and re-investing the proceeds of sales into further homes.

“Working families are priced out of the market and face house price over 6 times the average household income. Is it any wonder that the prospect of never owning a home is all too real?

“I am deeply concerned that this despair for Wicklow house hunters will only continue to be the case for more and more people unless we see a substantive change to policy and the introduction of a scheme for affordable homes.”

Casey concluded, “Our motion tomorrow evening seeks to place pressure on this Government to recognise and the address growing affordability crisis nationwide.”

 

Ends –

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Vacant Housing Bill Could Deliver 20,000 Homes, 19/10/2017


Vacant Housing Bill could deliver 20,000 homes for our people 

“Casey/Cowen bill passes 2nd stage vote with cross party support”


Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing and Wicklow TD Pat Casey has welcomed the support secured last night in the Dáil where TD’s from all sides of the chamber supported the Vacant Housing Bill drafted by the Wicklow TD and his colleague Barry Cowen.

“In essence this bill will speed up the process that is delaying the conversion of above shopfront spaces into homes from 5 months or more, to just 2 weeks. There are thousands of units in Wicklow that lie vacant and dark while outside on our streets there are people sleeping in the doorways of those shopfronts and working families are putting their kids to bed in a hotel room?”

“In Wicklow there are many properties in Arklow, Wicklow, and Bray that can avail of this legislative change and opportunity but also smaller towns such as Blessington, Baltinglass and Rathdrum and indeed villages such as Aughrim, Carnew, and Shillelagh.”

“I have also insisted that this bill maintains building and safety standards by introducing an independent inspectorate that will ensure that these homes are of a high standard and also breaking the financial link between the developer and the certifier which was problematic to say the least.”

“This bill is also a substantial step to the urban renewal of every City, Town and Village in Ireland. Our urban centres have been for too long been simply seen as commercial and recreational spaces.”

“The ideal model of all urban spaces globally both large and small is for mixed use of urban centres. Our towns and villages should be commercial, and recreational but crucially also living spaces where people can live in a home. This bill goes some way in helping Ireland achieve that goal.”

“The Housing crisis requires practical, common sense and immediate responses. This bill forms part of my party’s response to this crisis. I am delighted that it has received cross party support and I hope that with continued good will that we can get this legislation passed before Christmas.”

-ENDS-For Further Info please contact Pat
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Wicklow Rents and Property Prices are Out of Control, 03/10/2017


Wicklow rents and property prices have spiralled out of control – Pat Casey TD

Wicklow TD and Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Housing Pat Casey has stated that there is now hard evidence that rents and house prices in Wicklow have spiralled out of control and in certain areas are now reaching levels not seen since the height of the boom years.

“Having analysed the Rental Tenancies Board Quarter 2 report for 2016, it is now clear that rents have spiralled out of control in all areas of Wicklow, and to date, this has not been addressed by Government action.”

“In Wicklow Town in 2008, at the height of the property bubble, a three bed rental unit was on average €1015 per month. According to the recent RTB report by the end of June of 2016 the same three bed unit is now €1012 per month. The fact that we have now reached peak bubble rents in Wicklow Town in the midst of a housing crisis is a scandal demanding radical and immediate action.”

Deputy Casey continued “In Bray in 2013 a one bed rental housing unit was on average €647 per month. This has risen by 23% to €842 by June of this year. In West Wicklow, a one bed in Blessington was €710 in 2013 and this has risen by 24% in just three years to €930. The highest % increase in this period again is the county town of Wicklow where a one bedroom housing rental went up by 28% from €543 per month to €753 per month by last June.”

“With regard to House prices new data from the Central Statistics Office show that Wicklow now has the highest property prices outside Dublin with an average county wide cost of over €303,000. The Residential Price index shows that the average house price (July 2016) in Greystones was €404,717 and Bray was €363, 907. This is way beyond the affordability of the vast majority of those seeking to buy a family home.”

“I am working on the Housing Committee on a cross party basis with the Government to address the housing crisis. The answer is obvious and that is to build more accommodation units by whatever means possible, new builds and renovations. The talking and squabbling has to end and actions must start delivering results that can be measured just as the failures seen here can be measured, concluded Deputy Casey.”


Need for Review of Help-to-Buy Scheme, 28/09/2017


Wicklow’s Housing crisis will never be solved if Fine Gaels progress remains this slow – Pat Casey TD

-Double digit house price increases highlights need for review of Help-to-Buy scheme-

New figures released from the Census are further proof that Fine Gaels approach to the Housing Crisis nationally and in Wicklow is failing and failing badly.

Data supplied to Deputy Casey by the Central Statistics Office show that 6 years of a Fine Gael led Government have only increased the housing stock in Wicklow by 635 houses.

“This is an increase of just over 100 houses per year in Wicklow under a Fine Gael Government managing this Housing crisis. Considering that the current housing waiting list is over 3,000 and growing, the current snail’s pace of housing delivery by Minister Coveney leads to one depressing conclusion – Wicklow’s housing crisis will never be resolved with the lack of ambition that Fine Gael is bringing to this issue.”

“These independently verified facts by the CSO cannot be spun and are a damning indictment of Fine Gaels approach to Housing. When the data does not match their spin they cynically change the goalposts, but even Fine Gael cannot spin their way out of these facts.

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing Pat Casey TD has also reiterated his call for an independent review to be carried out into the performance and impact of the Help-to-Buy Scheme.

Deputy Casey made the comments after the Central Statistics Office released new figures which show that residential property prices recorded their fastest growth in almost two years.

Deputy Casey said, “The latest figures from the CSO show that residential property prices rose by 10.7% in the year to February. This is the fastest rate of growth since May 2015 and demonstrates that the rate of property price increases is accelerating. This is alarming news for people who are desperately struggling to buy their own home.

“Fianna Fáil outlined serious concerns when the Help-to-Buy Scheme was first unveiled last October. At the time we pointed out that the scheme would merely just lead to a rapid increase in house prices unless the Government took bold steps to increase the supply of housing. It seems that our concerns are starting to become reality as residential properties are now recording double digit price increases. House price increases had begun to plateau in 2015 before the loosening of the Central Bank mortgage lending rules and the introduction of the Help-to-Buy Scheme.”

“I have long maintained that we need to see an independent review of the Help-to-Buy scheme prior to the next budget in order to determine if it is performing as envisaged. The latest CSO figures highlight that such a review is definitely needed. There is little point having a Help-to-Buy Scheme for first time buyers if it’s only impact on the ground is to lead to unsustainable house price increases right across the country, as is now clearly the case.

“Minister Coveney needs to step up his efforts to increase the supply of housing, particularly in Wicklow and the Greater Dublin Area. This is the only way which we will be able to return to a normally functioning housing and rental market. We simply can’t have a situation where house price inflation is 10% and above year on year.”


Affordable Housing Scheme Must Be at Core of Government Policy, 18/09/2017


Affordable Housing Scheme must be a core part of Government policy

- Confidence & Supply arrangement contains specific commitment on a new Affordable Housing initiative -


Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing and Wicklow TD, Pat Casey has said that the Government must take real action on its commitment to launch a new affordable housing initiative.

Speaking after the Taoiseach made another announcement about utilising Nama to help with providing housing, Casey said:

“Unfortunately this announcement lacked any specific details on how it was going to be used to deliver more affordable and social housing. In Wicklow the lack of social housing and the total lack of affordable housing is increasing pressures on low and middle income families who simply want a home.”

Deputy Casey stated that using NAMA was a core part of the Fianna Fáil election manifesto but it must be focused on delivering affordable homes for ordinary families.

“Fianna Fáil pledged to use NAMA to build affordable homes in our election manifesto in February 2016. The Government must make up its mind and outline the plan they have for NAMA.

“An explicit commitment of the Confidence and Supply arrangement is the establishment of an affordable housing scheme. We believe that NAMA should be used for this explicit purpose of helping increase supply and open up home ownership to working families currently squeezed out of the market.

"NAMA can and should be used to launch affordable housings schemes in Dublin and other urban areas where supply is weakest and where prices are highest.

“This will help ensure that working Wicklow families are not priced out of the market and have a chance to own their own home. This was originally outlined in our manifesto and would be financed by a new national home building bond, on an off balance sheet basis, and through funds from the Strategic Investment Fund and the credit union movement.

“I am deeply concerned that this is another one of his Government’s kite flying exercises rather than a substantive policy proposal.

“Establishing an affordable housing scheme is a core part of the Confidence and Supply arrangement between Fine Gael. Using NAMA and accessing off balance sheet finance makes sense to help deliver the housing units we need, and I look forward to engaging with Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy in its design at committee this week,” concluded Deputy Casey.


More Action Needed to Tackle Housing Crisis, 14/09/2017


Fewer announcements & more action needed to once and for all tackle housing crisis 

- Three recent deaths highlight rapid deterioration of homeless crisis –

- FG tax incentives that cause land hoarding must be abolished-

- FF policies in coming weeks will spell radical change in housing delivery-

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing, Pat Casey TD has said that the crisis in homelessness has gone beyond party politics and has become a fundamental issue for Irish society. 

"The death of three people who were homeless is a symbol of the terrifying, distressing implications of an unacceptable and ever escalating crisis that has become the most major challenge of our time," he said. 

 “Since 2014 there have been numerous announcements and successive governments saying it is not a funding issue yet the number of homeless people continues to rise month on month.” 

"The lack of delivery on social housing is quite frankly shameful. Rents are still soaring and this is putting people under more pressure. The government has to get stuck in and provide a cohesive collective response on delivering action and focusing on getting affordable and social houses built.”  

“The never ending list of reports, reviews and wishful announcements will not remove a single barrier that exists to delivering housing construction or paying colossal rent. 

Deputy Casey " For our part, Fianna Fáil has brought forward a range of proposals aimed at increasing the volume of social housing, but also increasing the stock of affordable housing for those who are trying to buy their own home.  By contrast, Fine Gael continues to attempt to simply sit out the problem.”

"One of those proposals was to temporarily reduce VAT on the purchase of affordable homes.  In bringing forward this proposal we sought specific costs but were told by the Department of Finance that such information was not available at this time.  The absence of such information begs the question of Paschal Donohoe and Eoghan Murphy, what information are they using in immediately dismissing the idea?  In the absence of research on the cost and benefit of this policy, on what basis are they refusing to even consider it?

"The bigger question however is, where are the Government's alternative ideas?  Paschal Donohoe and his colleagues are sitting atop the biggest housing crisis in generations, causing misery for thousands of families across the country.  They are sniping at political opponents and dismissing the analysis and ideas of others, but what are they actually doing to deal with the issue?  In their own Rebuilding Ireland report, the Government pledged to look at releasing credit in the Credit Union movement to aid the house building effort, but there has been zero visible progress in this area either.”

"Eoghan Murphy is continuing the practice of Simon Coveney and the Labour Party's Alan Kelly before him, where endless PR initiatives and 'action plans' are mistaken for genuine activity or progress.  The Minister may do a good job in claiming to feel the people's pain, but he and his colleagues are completely paralysed when it comes to doing anything about it.

"We are long past the time when the Government should spell out their plans and take action.  Their premature and unresearched response to our proposals on VAT reform only re-emphasise their complete absence of ideas on this issue.”

Deputy Casey added that the decision taken by former Finance Minister Michael Noonan in 2012 to grant a Capital Gains Tax exemption to investors who brought prior to the end of December 2014, and held the property for seven years, has led to significant land hoarding.

"Most investors have an incentive to sit on these vacant sites while they appreciate in value until the end of the 7 year period when they can claim their capital gains exemption. The earliest date that properties acquired in the relevant period can qualify for the exemption is 7th December 2018.”

“NAMA Chief Executive, Brendan McDonagh, has confirmed the impact of this poorly designed tax exemption on encouraging land hoarding. While the agency has sold land that could be used to build 50,000 homes, so far only 3,000 are under construction on these lands. 

"Land Hoarding is clearly holding back supply.  Fewer than 18,000 new units will be built this year, including just 4,000 apartments, when we need in region of 50,000 to make a dent on affordability, rent and price inflation.


Review of Capital Plan More of the Same from Fine Gael, 14/09/2017


Review of Capital Plan more of the same from FG


Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow and spokesperson on Housing Pat Casey says the review of the Capital Plan 2016-2021 published earlier today is nothing more than the same old Fine Gael rhetoric.

“Fine Gael would like us all to believe that they are the saviours of capital investment in Ireland.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The initial plan was published back in 2015 as a pre-election stunt but it lacked any ambition and failed to recognise the scale of the capital deficit in Ireland.  Today’s review has failed to bring any new ideas to the table”, said Deputy Casey.

“The Government is attempting to drag out this process for political gain.  By the end of the year, it is expected to publish a 10 year capital plan, a review on the Action Plan for Housing and the National Development Plan.  So many plans but so little action.

“We are in the middle of a massive housing crisis, with over 3,000 children without a home.  There are more than 600,000 people on hospital waiting lists.  Hospitals across the country are bursting at the seams as a result of serious capacity issues.  Instead of another review or report we need to see concrete action and investment to deal with these issues.

“In Wicklow alone our road network is in serious disrepair and our rail network is at breaking point. The national broadband roll-out has been a shambles with deadlines missed at every juncture.  Nothing in this document fills me with any confidence that these issues will be addressed.

“We have consistently called for a broader and more ambitious Public Private Partnership (PPP) plan.  The current Government 10% restriction is blunt and outdated and must be removed as soon as possible.  Ireland would secure more investment from the European Investment Bank if we had a more ambitious PPP programme.

“The silence from far left parties on capital investment is deafening.  In fact, Sinn Féin failed to make a submission to the Capital Review.  Fianna Fáil, Labour, the Green Party and the Social Democrats all made contributions, and given the challenges facing this country with Brexit, Sinn Féin’s lack of interest is incredible.

“Capital investment is vital if we are going to address the issues in housing, health and infrastructure, and it is an integral to the development of a regionally balanced economy.  We need the Government to concentrate on the task in hand and the delivery of key projects, not on more plans and drawn-out strategies”, concluded Deputy Casey.


Casey Calls for Reform of Housing Assistance Payment, 09/09/2017


 Pat Casey TD calls for reform of Housing Assistance Payment for Wicklow Tenants

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing Pat Casey TD has called for reform of the Housing Assistant Payment (HAP) Scheme. The scheme is a form of social housing support for people who have a long-term housing need.

Deputy Casey said, “There has been much discussion in recent days regarding the HAP scheme and who should have access to it. However what has been missed in this debate is the fact that the HAP scheme is fundamentally flawed in its design and needs to be reformed.

“Currently families who accept HAP are forced off the social housing waiting list, and are instead placed on the housing transfer list. In effect this means that most families who accept HAP are unlikely to be allocated a permanent home. This is a fundamental flaw in the scheme as it forces families to accept temporary rental accommodation while forgoing being moved to a permanent home.”

“I firmly believe that there is no good reason for HAP recipients to be removed from the social housing waiting list. The current design of HAP is discouraging families in need of a home from using the scheme. It seems the main reason for designing the scheme in this manner was to make the housing list statistics appear less severe.

Deputy Casey concluded "I also believe that the issuing of confidential information regarding people who are offered HAP is a worrying development which must be investigated. It's simply unacceptable to leak such confidential information for political gain.”


Casey Housing Amendment Passes All Stages in Dail, 17/07/2017


Casey Housing amendment passes all stages in Dáil – Pat Casey TD

Fianna Fáil Spokespersoson on Housing Pat Casey TD has been commended by Government and opposition colleagues for his identification and fixing of a major flaw in the recent Planning Bill which was passed in December. The Government amendment to fix this flaw passed all stages in the Dáil yesterday evening.

“The planning and development bill was the first major legislative response of this Dáil to the housing crisis. A large and complex bill, I and others pointed out that rushing the bill through the Dáil before last Christmas risked major flaws not being spotted. As nearly everyone in Wicklow will agree, the planning process for housing development is extremely complex, difficult and painfully slow.”

“The main purpose of the bill was to speed up the planning process in relation to housing developments so that the construction of houses can be rapidly increased. The only solution to the housing crisis that is being experienced in Wicklow is a massive increase in new homes.”

“However I identified a major flaw in the bill whereby housing developments which were substantially completed were not going to benefit from a planning extension to allow the houses to be completed as originally planned. Many housing developments ground to a halt when the financial crash occurred, and these need to be completed now in order that these houses can come on stream. The flaw in the bill would in fact stop these developments which is madness.”

The Minister for Housing, and his department officials in fairness admitted that this was indeed a major flaw and agreed to introduce an amendment as a matter of urgency. This was done and I and my colleagues on the Housing committee worked to ensure that the amendment was completed correctly.

“I am pleased that my work has now resulted in this amendment being passed and this will now allow these vital housing developments to be completed and for these homes to be lived in by families that need them. This is the solution based approach I take when dealing with housing and I will continue this approach relentlessly in ensuring that the provision of homes for all who are in need is rapidly increased.”

During yesterday’s Dáil debate Sinn Fein Spokesperson Eoin O’Broin TD and Labour’s Jan O’Sullivan TD both praised deputy Casey’s work in identifying and fixing this flaw as did the new Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy TD who commended the Fianna Fáil TD on his efforts.


Finance Opportunity for Social Housing Squandered, 06/07/2017


Government squanders opportunity to use Credit Union finance for social housing

- Opportunity for €2bn investment in housing is being wasted –

- 1500 social and affordable houses needed in Wicklow alone-

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing Pat Casey TD says the Government’s failure to engage Credit Unions in financing social and affordable housing by Approved Housing Bodies is nothing short of a disgrace.

Deputy Casey made the comments after Credit Union representatives appeared before the Oireachtas Housing Committee to outline the resources they have available to invest in social housing.

Deputy Casey said, “It’s simply disgraceful that the Government continues to refuse to engage with Credit Unions with the view to securing funding for vital housing projects. The Government is refusing to remove the roadblocks that are preventing Credit Unions from making an estimated €2bn investment in social and affordable housing.

“While the Government continues to fudge the numbers on housing delivery, their claim that enough is being spent to build new social housing is simply untrue. Expenditure on social housing is still just €316m, compared to €818m in 2009. Investment in housing is still 65% below the average annual investment from 2004 to 2010. Credit Unions can play a vital role in providing the financing which is clearly needed for social housing projects.

“The Government needs to help establish a special purpose fund which would enable Credit Unions to pool finance and reduce risk. This would help clear the barriers which are currently in place preventing Credit Unions from investing in housing projects. There is absolutely no explanation from the Government as to why they are refusing to establish a new credit union investment vehicle. 

“Approved Housing Bodies are well capable of delivering social and affordable housing projects of scale, despite what some Deputies in the Housing Committee claimed today. For example, Cluid Housing Body currently have 2,500 housing units in their construction pipeline, a larger number than many local authorities.

“In the past six years the State has built just 4,000 social houses, fewer than the number constructed in every single year from 1994 to 2009. Fewer than 1,000 new social homes will be constructed in 2017 and fewer than 5,000 by 2020.

“In Wicklow while I welcome the progression of the housing development of 51 houses at the Convent lands Wicklow Town through the Council, it doesn’t come close to even a good start to what is required for the County as a whole. In my estimation there are 1,500 social and affordable houses needed throughout the entire county and this funding could be harnessed for that.”

“Clearly, housing delivery is not adequately funded. However the Fine Gael Government refuses to allow Credit Unions to invest in Approved Housing Bodies. There can be little doubt that building social housing is not a priority for this right wing Government,” concluded Deputy Casey.


Roundwood Allsop Sale a New Low in FG Handling of Housing Crisis, 16/06/2017


Roundwood allsop sale a new low in Fine Gaels Housing shambles

- “selling the road from under resident’s feet and their green space for €45,000 is immoral” –

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing and Urban Renewal, Pat Casey TD has said that the sale by Allsop of the road in a Roundwood Housing estate and the green space within it is a new low in the Housing crisis and further evidence of the total failure of the Fine Gael/Independent Government to get to grips with the Housing Crisis.

“I was genuinely stunned to see that Allsop are placing for auction the road and the green space within a Roundwood Housing estate. Just consider this for a moment, the road that residents need to access and leave the estate, and the green space that exists within it is being placed for sale by auction with a guide price of €45,000. This is immoral and unfortunately further evidence that a housing bubble is being let get out of control by the Government.”

“It is immoral that in Wicklow that an estate road and green space is being put up for auction for nearly €50,000 while I know that there are homeless people sleeping in tents on our beaches. The Government’s focus on the Housing crisis has been marked by a complete reluctance for the State to take charge and the events of this week are further proof of their lack of determination in relation to Housing.”

“While I understand that a new Taoiseach needs to appoint a new cabinet, to change the Minister for Housing who promised the nation and the Dáil of his total commitment to Housing and Homelessness and of his personal determination to complete this task, has swanned off to another department after 1 year. 1 year! I am not only deeply disappointed, I am a little angry.”

“What has happened over the last short period is not only the wrong thing for politicians to be indulging in, it is totally corrosive in the peoples brittle trust in our democratic systems ability to focus and deliver on managing Housing solutions, not managing a political crisis communications grid.”

“I and the team in Fianna Fáil will continue to suggest realistic and radical solutions to the failures in homelessness and housing. These need to be listened to and acted upon by Government. The time for spin is over. Otherwise there will be an election in my view.”


Wicklow Land Bank Plan success depends on delivery of larger number of social houses - Casey, 14/06/2017


  • Greater effort needed to remove barriers preventing housing construction -
  • Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing Pat Casey TD says the new ‘Land Bank Plan’ unveiled by Minister Coveney earlier today is a step in the right direction, but its success will be measured by the number of social houses it delivers.

Deputy Casey added that the plan alone will not solve the housing crisis and a greater effort is needed to address the significant barriers which are preventing the construction of housing.

Deputy Casey said, “In recent months I have highlighted the bizarre situation whereby the State was unable to provide details on the land it owns, even though this land could be put to good use in tackling the housing crisis. Accordingly I outlined the need for Minister Coveney to undertake a national land bank audit, and he has now delivered on this request.

“The plan is a step in the right direction in so far as the Minister finally has the information he needs to facilitate the construction of new housing developments on State owned land. However significant questions need  to be answered. For example, are the identified land banks zoned for housing developments? If not, will Minister Coveney put in place a fast-track process to facilitate the zoning of the land? Also, will the housing developments on these lands be serviced? If not, can he provide assurances that the infrastructure and amenities in the local communities can adequately facilitate the housing developments?

“Minister Coveney also needs to do much more to address the significant barriers which are preventing the construction of housing. The Minister needs to put in place a development finance vehicle to help make funding available to facilitate the construction of housing. The excessive development charges must also be tackled and the VAT rates on construction need to be lowered until we return to a functioning housing market. We also need a new certification process, administered by local authorities, which can review and inspect developments in a timely manner.

“Minister Coveney has also been unenthusiastic about removing the barriers which are holding back the construction of new local authority housing. In the past six years the State had built just 4,000 social houses, which is fewer than was constructed in almost every single year from 1994 to 2009. This urgently needs to be addressed as the private sector alone clearly cannot meet the housing demand which currently


Casey elected Vice Chair of Dáil Housing Committee, 02/06/2017


-Rebuilding Ireland is not working, radical alternatives to be published by Fianna Fáil-

Wicklow/East Carlow Fianna Fáil TD and spokesperson for Housing and Urban Renewal for Pat Casey has been elected unanimously as Vice-Chair of the Dáil Committee on Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government. This is one of the most important Dáil Committees that has been tasked with tracking delivery in the provision of solutions to Ireland’s Housing crisis.

“Since becoming a member of this Committee I have been determined that we would work in a positive and non-political manner in ensuring that realistic solutions are provided to our growing Housing crisis. As a Wicklow TD I am only too aware of the seriousness of this crisis from an appalling lack of supply, to planning delays, a rental market that is out of control and a lack of finance available to local builders seeking to increase our housing stock.”

“Unfortunately the evidence is growing every week that the Housing crisis is getting worse in many areas. Selective use of the rental pressure zones have resulted in massive rent increases in Wicklow towns such as Greystones, Arklow and Blessington. Families are still being accommodated in Bed and Breakfasts in Wicklow for months while vacant units lie idle, and local builders cannot access finance to get moving on increasing supply.”

“Rebuilding Ireland is not working. That is the hard truth. Focus Ireland this week called the crisis in family homelessness as “unprecedented and shocking.” I and my colleague Barry Cowen will be publishing a radical alternative to the failed policies of this Fine Gael led Government in the coming months. I will be working to ensure that these measures receive cross-party support. We have an emergency and we need an emergency response.”

“Instead of clinging to policies that are failing the Government needs to accept that they don’t have all the answers. If there are proposals coming from Fianna Fáil or any other party that can help address the Housing crisis then Minister Coveney must accept them. That is the patriotic response that is required. In a crisis as pervasive and with wide ranging social and economic consequences the entire political make up of Dáil Eireann must be listened to. However so far, the Government’s efforts have been too weak with a “wait and see” approach for far too long. I will be using every opportunity at the Dáil Committee and in the chamber to get solutions on the ground,” concluded the Wicklow TD.

-ENDS-For Further Info please contact Pat (M) 086 2649483


Land Bank Plan Success Depends on Increase in Social Housing, 05/05/2017


Wicklow Land Bank Plan success depends on delivery of larger number of social houses - Casey

- Greater effort needed to remove barriers preventing housing construction -

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing Pat Casey TD says the new ‘Land Bank Plan’ unveiled by Minister Coveney earlier today is a step in the right direction, but its success will be measured by the number of social houses it delivers.

Deputy Casey added that the plan alone will not solve the housing crisis and a greater effort is needed to address the significant barriers which are preventing the construction of housing.

Deputy Casey said, “In recent months I have highlighted the bizarre situation whereby the State was unable to provide details on the land it owns, even though this land could be put to good use in tackling the housing crisis. Accordingly I outlined the need for Minister Coveney to undertake a national land bank audit, and he has now delivered on this request.

“The plan is a step in the right direction in so far as the Minister finally has the information he needs to facilitate the construction of new housing developments on State owned land. However significant questions need  to be answered. For example, are the identified land banks zoned for housing developments? If not, will Minister Coveney put in place a fast-track process to facilitate the zoning of the land? Also, will the housing developments on these lands be serviced? If not, can he provide assurances that the infrastructure and amenities in the local communities can adequately facilitate the housing developments?

“Minister Coveney also needs to do much more to address the significant barriers which are preventing the construction of housing. The Minister needs to put in place a development finance vehicle to help make funding available to facilitate the construction of housing. The excessive development charges must also be tackled and the VAT rates on construction need to be lowered until we return to a functioning housing market. We also need a new certification process, administered by local authorities, which can review and inspect developments in a timely manner.

“Minister Coveney has also been unenthusiastic about removing the barriers which are holding back the construction of new local authority housing. In the past six years the State had built just 4,000 social houses, which is fewer than was constructed in almost every single year from 1994 to 2009. This urgently needs to be addressed as the private sector alone clearly cannot meet the housing demand which currently exists.


Government Housing Plan Failing in Wicklow, 07/04/2017


Government Housing plan failing in Wicklow – Pat Casey TD

- 4.3% surge in average house prices must be a wakeup call to Govt, Wicklow the highest outside Dublin with €295,245 –

- failure to deliver 36 social houses for Arklow a damning indictment of Rebuilding Ireland –

- Casey secures commitment from Department to respond to alternative housing proposal from Wicklow Co Council- 

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing & Urban Renewal Pat Casey TD has said that the inability of the Government to cut through the red tape associated with housing construction and planning will lead to an entire generation never realising their ambitions of owning their own homes.

Deputy Casey was commenting after the most recent Daft.ie report which shows that house prices continue to soar with a 4.3% increase recorded in the average house price in the first three months of the year.

Despite many announcements, pronouncements, plans, strategies and wishful thinking, Fine Gael has failed to rise to the task, and deal with a housing market that is dangerously close to pricing out average income earners in this country.

“At present, a single person earning the national average salary of €45,042 will be unable to buy a home marketed at the national average of €230,000 based on the traditional 3.5 times salary to loan ratio. In Wicklow we now have the fourth highest prices in the nation, a massive €65,000 above the national average.”

“25,000 homes need to be built every year, including 10,000 in Dublin to meet existing demand. In 2016, less than half that, with an even poorer return in Dublin, were realised. The demand in Dublin is driving the price increase in Wicklow.”

“The Government cannot rely on wishful thinking, and glossy action plans to build the houses that are so desperately needed.

“The Government, to date, have failed to cool down the housing market by ensuring that those wishing to build private housing can do so in a sustainable way.

“All too often, developers will cite the high costs associated with planning and meeting regulations as one of the reasons why house prices are increase.

“Last November, Minister Coveney agreed to an independent review of building costs. This needs to be finalised as quickly as possible.

“Unless the Government commits to reducing this burden, and also commits to increasing its own construction of public housing, those in the 20s and 30s will never have the option of owning their own home.

Deputy Casey continued “Last week at the Housing Committee in the Dáil I raised the scandal whereby 36 houses that were to be built in Arklow have failed to be delivered because the planning permission ran out on Saturday last (1st April 2017). The project was at stage 4 Government approval in December 2016 and yet no one was monitoring the planning permission deadline. This is supposed to be a fast tracking approval system under Rebuilding Ireland but nobody in all the checks and processes noticed that planning permission was running out.

“This development in Arklow represents 20% of the already very modest increase in social housing for County Wicklow. In Arklow this is the primary social housing project planned and it has now fallen by the wayside because of a total failure of the Governments four stage approval system.”

“At that meeting I did secure a commitment from the Secretary General of the Department, John McCarthy that his Department would look favourably at any proposal to bring forward an alternative turnkey proposal from Wicklow County Council. I have asked senior officials in the Council to respond as a matter of urgency on this.”

“Housing is now one of the biggest issues affecting our country. It requires a new way of thinking, with radical changes to legislation, to enable both public and private housing construction to increase to meet demand and slow the now all too familiar surges in prices.”

“I am working every day with my colleague Barry Cowen on a radical alternative to this failing plan. Unless we have a changed outlook that regards housing as a right to be managed by the State then we will not have the tools to tackle the crisis in every area of housing.”

“This is the legacy of Fine Gael in office, and it’s one that will leave lasting damage across the whole country, unless a radical change in direction is delivered,” concluded Casey.”


Wicklow County Council needs more resources to manage housing stock , 03/03/2017


Wicklow County Council needs more resources to manage housing stock – Casey

- Call follows revelation that €100,000 was spent to refurbish one House –

- Cllr Pat Kennedy says Council do have enough staff or money-

Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow, Pat Casey has expressed concern after it was revealed in national media that Wicklow County Council spent €465,533.86 in renovating just 11 vacant housing units known as ‘voids’ in 2016.

The Wicklow TD who is Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing had been making comments the Dáil Housing Committee about the lack of proper management prior to these figures being revealed.

“My knowledge of local government is that we haven’t been inspecting our properties often enough to the detriment of the property itself. We should be looking for at least a minimum of one annual inspection of each property.”

“When a tenant moves out, we don’t know what condition the house is in because we might not have been in it for ten years and we end up with a nightmare cost to repair that house.”

“Central Government should properly resource local authorities such as Wicklow to ensure that all rental properties are managed correctly including an annual inspection. This would be standard practice in any functioning housing body and an international norm”.

Agreeing with the Wicklow deputy, Municipal Chairman and local Councillor Pat Kennedy stated, “The Council do not have the staff or the money to manage the existing housing stock which in and of itself is not sufficient to meet demand. The Fine Gael led Government needs to get serious about how local government is funded if we are to have any meaningful role in getting to grips with our housing crisis.”


Coveney needs better plan to boost supply of rental accommodation, 16/02/2017


Coveney needs better plan to boost supply of rental accommodation – Casey

-Fianna Fáil to publish radical alternative policies-


Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing Pat Casey says Minister Coveney needs to come forward with a robust plan to boost the supply of rental accommodation. Deputy Casey made the comments following the publication of the latest Daft report which shows that average rent levels across the country have reached historic peaks.

“While the new rent cap legislation is a step in the right direction, Greystones is still not included and much more needs to be done to repair the dysfunctional housing market and ramp up new construction of rental and owner occupier units," said Deputy Casey. 

“Minister Coveney needs to come forward with a comprehensive integrated reform package to moderate excessive rental inflation and increase the supply of affordable rental properties. The main reason rents are so high around the country is due to the record low levels of supply in the rental market, which in turn comes about as a result of historically low levels of construction activity in the housing market.”

“The continuing slow growth of new rental supply is a key risk factor endangering economic recovery and increasing living costs for families. Unfortunately the housing action plan is simply not leading to the increase in housing supply which is necessary to establish a stable rental market.”

“We’re still awaiting completion and publication of the Housing Agency’s assessment of construction costs. The Department needs to undertake simple actions such as implementing an audit of construction costs in order to determine the factors impeding the delivery of new homes. It’s astonishing that the Department still cannot tell us the average cost of building an apartment in Ireland.”

“The ham-fisted nature in which the Building Control Regulations were implemented has arguably made the costs of building apartments and housing estates uneconomical. These regulations have to be reformed and a proper system of building control with local authority inspections put in place.”

“Other incentives to increase supply of rental units include cheap financing for new build-to-rent units, incentives for landlords to maintain long-term leases and the introduction of a grant to help return some of the 260,000 vacant properties to the market.” 


Greystones can be Included in Rent Cap Zone, 09/02/2017


Greystones can be included in Rent Cap Zone - Casey

-Methodology Used for Deciding Rent Pressure Zones Flawed and Inconsistent

- Many Large Urban Areas that meet dual criteria not designated -

FF spokesperson on housing, Pat Casey TD, has said that it is clear that there are flaws and inconsistencies in the methodology used to designate areas as Rent Pressure Zones.

Speaking after Minister Coveney announced 13 new Local Electoral Areas as rent pressure zones last week, Deputy Casey said that many towns with both the highest rents and highest rent inflation will not be covered under the rent cap legislation, due to the flaws in the approach used to decide upon designations.

Deputy Casey explained: “Minister Coveney has been dismissive in his reactions to any criticisms of his legislation, insisting that the methodology used for deciding which areas are in need of designation as rent pressure areas is scientific and logical.

"However a comparison of the areas that were designated ahead of areas that were not, demonstrates that there are inconsistencies and flaws in the approach used.

“There are many towns, such as Greystones in Wicklow, which have not been given designation, despite having the highest rents, as well as the highest rental inflation, in their respective counties.

“Meanwhile many areas within these counties, and others, that have been designated do not have particularly high rent pressures, such as many rural locations.

“This is because in drafting his hurried legislation, the Minister only allowed for whole Local Electoral Areas to be assessed for designation, rather than individual towns or urban areas, where renters are concentrated.”  

“For example, Greystones/ Delgany urban area in Wicklow, with a combined population of over 13,200 also easily meets the dual criteria for being designated. Each town has by far the highest rents at €1,232 in Wicklow and the most persistently high rental inflation with greater than 7% inflation in all six of the last quarters.”

“Yet Greystones has not been designated, as it is situated in a largely rural Local Electoral Area, with lower rents dragging down the average rental prices. Today my office has received reports from constituents that there has been massive rent inflation in Greystones due to Fine Gaels exclusion of the town. This is leading to great hardship on working families who rent and commute from the area.”

 

"It is not acceptable that only whole Local Electoral Areas are be eligible for designation as a Rent Pressure Zones. It means that, for arbitrary reasons, large population centres experiencing extreme rent pressures cannot be covered under the rent caps, excluding thousands of renters areas under severe pressure.

"It is worrying that the methodology for designations is resulting in inconsistency across areas. Many towns that have been designated have lower average rents and lower rental inflation than large towns that escaped designation.

"As a result of our negotiations and amendments to the Bill before Christmas, Fianna Fáil did secure a review of the scheme and the effectiveness of its qualifying criteria, which is to take place in June 2017.

"We will be ensuring that this review goes ahead and that flaws within the methodology are rectified to ensure towns that are under severe rental pressure can be included.” 


Fianna Fáil ensure high Wicklow rents are assessed quickly, 16/12/2016


Fianna Fáil ensure high Wicklow rents are assessed quickly for pressure zone qualification - Casey

Fianna Fáil Housing Spokesperson and Wicklow TD Pat Casey has confirmed to the Dáil that it was Fianna Fáil that have ensured that Wicklow will be assessed as a matter of urgency in January in relation to qualifying for the new 4% rent cap.

North Wicklow in particular has rents that are on a par with the Dublin Metropolitan area and must be included, the Wicklow TD stated.

Speaking in the Dáil Deputy Casey stated “The Rental sector is not working and is in crisis as we know and is a significant element of the Housing problem. Less than a year ago Fine Gael refused point blank to consider rent controls when Minister Alan Kelly attempted them. It is through the work of Fianna Fáil that Fine Gael have finally conceded and begun to act with the 4% cap.”

“If these caps are not proven to work and work quickly, Fianna Fáil is prepared to bring forward our own measures to bring greater certainty for tenants. We also strongly believe that there needs to be tax incentives for landlords to relieve the considerable pressures on them.”

“Rent controls need to be measured with keeping rental supply up. I agree that by definition this is a delicate balancing act.”

“The vast majority of landlords are responsible and anxious to keep their tenants. I am not going to demonise landlords for short term political gain. 88% of landlords only own a single property and we need to transition from this unsustainable model.”

Deputy Casey continued “Today is an historic first – these are the first rent certainty measures in the history of the State. Fianna Fáil will continue to listen to the people and put their needs first.”

“We are solely focused on getting housing solutions delivered, as best we can, in the circumstances we find ourselves in. We are not interested in grandstanding gestures or personalised name calling. Those deputies that continue to follow this failed politics are condemning themselves.”

“I welcome that the Minister has conceded that the major cities of Galway, Waterford and Limerick along with Commuter counties of Wicklow, Meath, Kildare and Louth need to be assessed urgently and that this will take place in January. Because of our work up to 100,000 homes will now be protected against out of control rent increases. It is a start. We need to build on that.”

 

“I have some reservations about the Rental Pressure Zones. The Minister is claiming that the data is not available to create rental pressure zones outside major urban centres. Having used the RTB site regularly I contend that it is possible to clearly identify area that have increases that meet the criteria. Commuter belt towns such as Bray, Greystones can clearly be seen as having unsustainable rent increases.”

“In relation to the local authority area criteria it must be remembered that large rural towns are suffering from rent pressures but that these are offset by their surrounding rural areas where rents are obviously lower. Commuter towns in particular need to be analysed here such as Wicklow, Arklow and Blessington. The local area plans can be focused on these towns surely a rent control could be applied on that basis also.”

“I repeat my assertion that the members of this House will be judged on their actions in relation to the Housing crisis. This is the first bill to give effect to Housing Crisis. There will need to be more”, concluded Deputy Casey.


FG Must Focus on Implementation of Housing Policy, 11/11/2016


FG Government must focus on implementation of housing policy – Casey 

Wicklow Fianna Fáil TD and spokesperson on Housing Pat Casey says the Government needs to show a greater commitment to actually implementing policy to address the crisis ridden housing market in Wicklow.

Deputy Casey made the comments after Minister Coveney held his fourth press conference on the ‘Rebuilding Ireland’ housing plan.

“Unfortunately Minister Coveney seems to have developed the bad habits of the previous Government mistaking media coverage for progress. He has held multiple press conferences on his housing plan and has re-announced the same housing infrastructure fund on a number of occasions,” said Deputy Casey.

“Minister Coveney needs to place less of an emphasis on PR and more emphasis on action. The €200m housing infrastructure fund announced earlier today was already unveiled back in June. In the intervening period, the necessary infrastructure improvements have not yet begun on a single site in Wicklow to allow development of new homes.”

“All of the details announced by Minister Coveney today, including the Special Development Zones, the dedicated Delivery Unit within his department and the questionable Help-to-Buy scheme are already well known. However at the end of the day the housing action plan is yet to actually increase the supply of housing and in Wicklow the situation is becoming critical.”

“It’s inexcusable that his Department continues to refuse to undertake simple actions such as implementing an audit of construction costs to determine the factors impeding the delivery of new accommodation. I firmly believe that we need emergency legislation to deal with bottlenecks in the planning process.

“The Department of Housing have arguably made the supply crisis even worse. Their implementation of ham-fisted changes to the building control regulations has made the cost of building apartments and housing estates uneconomical. These regulations need to be reformed so that a proper building control system can be put in place based on local authority inspections.

“Minister Coveney seems to have taken the lead from colleagues who are more interested in their potential next job than they are in their current responsibilities. He needs to put the brakes on the spin machine and instead focus on actually improving the country's housing supply,” concluded Deputy Casey.


Mortgage Rate Cut Welcome, 27/10/2016


KBC mortgage rate cut welcome, more banks must follow – Casey

- Oireachtas scrutiny of FF legislation will continue -

 

Fianna Fáil TD Pat Casey has welcomed the announcement of mortgage rate cuts for new and existing customers of KBC Bank and has called on more banks to follow suit.

Deputy Casey commented, “Just last week, the Oireachtas Finance Committee commenced pre-legislative scrutiny of a Fianna Fáil Bill to give extra powers to the Central Bank to tackle excessive variable mortgage rates in the Irish market. It is particularly welcome that today’s announcement of rate cuts by KBC applies to both existing and new customers.”

“This is a key breakthrough for tens of thousands of mortgage customers, including many throughout Wicklow and East Carlow. The different treatment of existing and new customers by some banks in terms of mortgage rates is blatant discrimination and should not be tolerated by the Central Bank,” added Casey.

“KBC Bank is now offering a one year fixed rate of 2.9% for customers with a loan to value (LTV) of less than 90%. The reduction in the variable rate depends on the value of the home relative to the size of the loan. A customer with an LTV of less than 50% can now avail of a rate of 3% with KBC, while a customer in the 80%-90% LTV bracket will now pay 3.5%.”

“Today’s announcement by KBC Bank represents tangible progress in the campaign for fair mortgage rates. However, the campaign will continue, as will the Oireachtas scrutiny of the Fianna Fáil legislation designed to tackle the issue."

"As banks enjoy favourable market conditions and record low cost of obtaining funds, the benefits must be passed on to mortgage customers, both new and existing.”

“It is no longer acceptable that customers of Irish banks pay way over the odds for loan products. We have always argued that rates should follow prevailing market conditions. Fianna Fáil will continue to work for more progress on this issue,” concluded Deputy Casey.


Flawed Housing Budget seen in Delgany Disgrace, 14/10/2016


Delgany Disgrace proves Fine Gael’s flawed budget on housing - Pat Casey TD

  • Casey calls for urgent meeting of Dáil Housing Committee

Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow/East Carlow and spokesperson on Housing Pat Casey delivered his views on Budget 2017 to the Dáil this week.

Deputy Casey was the one of the first TD’s to stress the flaws in the Governments Housing budget from his work on the Housing Committee. Speaking in the Dáil, prior to the media reports of scandalous increases in North Wicklow, Deputy Casey stated

“On the Housing crisis, and on the package of measures that were announced in the budget, I have serious concerns. The solution is frustratingly simple – supply. But the range of measures announced and in some cases re-announced yesterday lack the national urgency that this crisis demands.

I understand that the first time buyer’s grant is being introduced by Minister Coveney to entice the construction sector to build, but it is extremely high risk. Where are the measurements to ensure that house prices will not become further out of reach for buyers? For example, my own constituency of Wicklow has the highest house prices and the highest rents outside Dublin.”

Deputy Casey continued “Encouraging people to commit themselves to overpriced mortgages is a lesson I thought we all should have learned.”

“In the hospitality sector the 9% Vat rate was a targeted measure that defended a vital industry in troubled times. In my view it is worth serious analysis as to the value of a similar VAT reduction with regard to the construction industry as it pertains to housing only.

“The renew and lease scheme as announced is in the right direction but at too small a scale to make any meaningful impact. €6 million in 2017 will only deliver 150 units while a national funded scheme using off balance sheet funding could potentially deliver thousands of units. That’s the ambition and radical approach that I and my colleagues in Fianna Fáil will be bringing forward. I will continue to work constructively with all colleagues in this house to get on top of this crisis but this budget leaves a lot to be desired at a time when the people are looking for leadership and determination.”

Following the Delgany revelations in the media whereby a new house was increased by €45,000 overnight, Deputy Casey reiterated his concerns stating that “the disgraceful profiteering that is taking place in Delgany proves beyond doubt our criticism of this measure. We need to reduce building costs not increase the pressure on the buyer. This can be done. I will be pursuing this matter further and I have today asked for an urgent Dáil committee meeting to address this matter with Minister Coveney.”


Housing Adaptation Grant Restoration a Top Priority, 02/09/2016


Restoration of Housing Adaptation Grant a top priority

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing and Urban Renewal Pat Casey TD has said the restoration of the Housing Adaptation Grant is essential to ensure that older people and people with a disability can maintain their independence in their own homes.

Deputy Casey said, ”Fianna Fáil introduced the Housing Adaptation Grant Scheme in 2007 in order to allow for the adaptation of houses for people with a disability and older people.

"Grants are given to individual households to assist older people living in poor housing conditions to have necessary repairs or improvements carried out. People with a disability can also avail of the scheme to carry out the necessary adaptations, repairs or improvement works to be carried out to make their homes more suitable for their needs.

“Unfortunately this essential grant scheme was cut by the previous Fine Gael Government. The number of grants paid out annually to older people and people with disabilities was cut by 45% under Fine Gael, while the value of average individual grants paid out was cut by over 50%.

“This situation has arisen because the Government is no longer providing sufficient matching funding to allow local authorities to pay out the grant. The Government must work towards restoring this essential payment and honour the commitment it made in the Programme for Government to support further increases in funding for this scheme.

“This scheme is essential to helping people maintain their independence and remain in their own home for as long as possible, which is a central plank of Fianna Fáil policy. I know of many people in Wicklow who are unable to adapt their homes due to a lack of available funding. This must be addressed by the Government as a matter of importance.


Wicklow Housing List Assessment needs to be completed and returned, 20/08/2016


Wicklow Housing List Assessment needs to be completed and returned - Pat Casey T.D.

  • Housing plan needs to be delivered urgently not leaked and spun in the media

Wicklow Fianna Fáil TD and spokesperson on Housing Pat Casey has urged all those on the Wicklow Social Housing List to complete and return the Housing Needs Assessment Form in order to remain on the housing list.

“There are over 3000 people currently on the social housing waiting list in Wicklow. In order to reassess the current needs of these applicants Wicklow County Council are writing to each applicant with a special assessment form. This form must be completed and returned to Wicklow County Council by Friday 29th of July or applicants will be removed from the social housing list. If any applicant has not received the form they need to contact the housing department of Wicklow County Council or my Ark low office. ”

Deputy Casey further stated that, “I am concerned that once again, we are slipping into the territory where announcing action is more important that taking action. In the upcoming budget Fianna Fáil will be pressing for substantial additional resources to be put into the housing capital budget, supports for first time buyers and directing the Strategic Investment Fund to purchase homes.”

“My ongoing fear is that we are still not seeing a level of energy applied to this that is commensurate with the scale of the crisis.  At a minimum, in our view three basic things need to happen:
- We need to establish a Housing Procurement Authority to cut through the bureaucracy and inertia;
-  A creative approach to funding construction, including access to the Strategic Investment Fund and working with the Credit Union movement and private investors;
- The planning system for new strategically important housing developments needs to be shortened while this emergency persists.”

“People are tired of spin, everyone agrees there is a crisis. What we actually need is action backed up by resources. On Thursday night I demanded more action on the Housing crisis in the Dáil Chamber. Fianna Fáil will be fighting hard to ensure bricks and mortars are put into the ground.”


Delivery of Housing Plans Crucial to Government Survival, 22/07/2016


Delivery of Housing plans crucial to Government Survival- Pat Casey T.D.

  • “Time for talk is over, time for delivery has begun”
  • “Very disappointed about lack of detail on distressed Mortgage holders”
  • Only 164 new Social Housing builds in the Pipeline for all of Wicklow

Wicklow Fianna Fáil TD and spokesperson on Housing Pat Casey has urged the Fine Gael led Government to deliver on the Housing & Homelessness action plan which was launched this week. “I agree with my colleague Barry Cowen when he states that the survival of this Government depends on the delivery of housing actions.”

Speaking in the Dáil on the housing action plan Deputy Casey stated “I am concerned about the lack of detail with regard to those in mortgage difficulties. The squeezed middle is often overlooked in major policy proposals and I fear that this may be the case again. The past eight years have been enormously difficult for these people. I would be stunned if any Deputy here did not during the recent election come across people who were visibly suffering from the strain of maintaining their mortgage repayments. These citizens are also at risk of homelessness every month when the payment is due to be made. I see no specific detail in the report which the Government has termed historic in its holistic capacity to embrace all housing issues. In helping people in mortgage distress it is simply not good enough.”

Deputy Casey welcomed aspects of the action plan in particular “the Minister's determination to track his actions in providing solutions to the housing crisis. This Dáil has hit the ground running on the issue of housing provision. An action plan has been launched. The time for talking is over, while the time for delivery has begun.”

In that regard figures obtained by Deputy Casey from Wicklow County Council today reveal the scale of the task ahead. “As of today there are only 164 new social housing units to be built in the entire County of Wicklow. We have over 3,000 on the Wicklow waiting list. There will need to be a dramatic and persistent increase in the supply of housing units if we are to meet our targets. I will be keeping this Government under close scrutiny to ensure this happens.”