The breaching of country boundaries in County Tipperary in the report of the Electoral Commission was raised in the Dáil by Tipperary Independent Deputy Seamus Healy.
Speaking during a debate on the Bill which implements the changes, he said both the county boundary and physical infrastructure terms of reference had been breached.
“In the south of the county, part of Waterford county that skirts the Comeragh Mountains, which has traditionally been in Tipperary South because it is contiguous with South Tipperary and is dependent on Clonmel as its main centre of employment, social activity, health services and education, has been transferred,” he said. “That area should not have been removed from Tipperary South. There was a more significant breach in Tipperary North, with 11,000 people being transferred to Offaly. This area is contiguous with two of the main towns in the county, Nenagh and Roscrea. People living 500 yards outside both towns are now in the Offaly constituency.”
However, all of these people looked on both towns as their centres for education, health services, employment and social activity.
“It is clear that the Commission, in respect of both Tipperary constituencies and a number of other constituencies, has breached its own terms of reference,” he said. “Will the Minister seriously examine the position in Tipperary and revert to two three-seater constituencies?”
Deputy Healy said he disagreed fundamentally with the suggestion there should be a significant reduction in the number of Members.
“A significant reduction would mean a lack of democracy and a very elitist and exclusive Chamber,” he said. “The Chamber would be almost like a vocationally representative Chamber such as the Seanad. It certainly would not allow for proper representation or the very strong contact Members have with their constituents and the public. The link between individual Deputies and their constituents is a very significant strength. It is anything but a weakness and ensures Members do not become out of touch with their constituents or constituencies. It is a considerable strength of the proportional representation and single transferable vote system. I fundamentally agree with and support our electoral process.”
McGrath dreads playing Kilkenny with plastic hurleys!
It would be terrible if Tipperary had to play an All-Ireland Final against Kilkenny with plastic hurleys as a result of the outbreak of ash dieback disease, Deputy Mattie McGrath told the Taoiseach.
Speaking on the Order of Business he said he wished to raise an issue that is very important to the people of Tipperary, being part of a proud hurling tradition.
“I am talking about the Forestry Bill, in regard to the inaction of Coillte and foresters in the matter of the epidemic affecting ash trees,” he said. “It would be terrible if we had to play an All-Ireland Final against Kilkenny with plastic hurleys!”
Taoiseach: “The Forestry Bill is on the A list and will be introduced this session. The Deputy can swing away.”
Tenancies Board ineffective - Healy
Until now the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB), the body set up to adjudicate in disputes between landlords and tenants has been ineffective, in particular in areas with anti-social behaviour and in terms of retention of deposits, rent arrears, inspections and standards, Tipperary Independent Deputy Seamus Healy told the Dáil.
The elephant in the room is the fact that local authority housing and State provision of housing are not covered by the Bill, he said. This Government, like the last one, had effectively abolished the whole area of State provision of housing for housing applications.
“This Bill does not cover local authority tenants,” he said. “It should be noted that 98,318 households are waiting for accommodation. That is an increase of 75% since 1991. It is even more interesting to note that the number of households waiting for three years and more for housing is 36,277, the number waiting five years and more is 16,239 and the number waiting seven years and more is 5,508.”
That was an acknowledgement, he said, of the complete failure of the State to provide housing for its citizens. In that context, it was unacceptable that the State should divest itself of responsibility for the provision of housing for housing applicants.
“There is no local authority house building programme at present,” he said. “There has not been one since this Government took office, nor was there such a programme for a number of years under the previous Government. That is unacceptable and should be changed. Housing should be provided by the State for housing applicants who simply cannot provide housing from their own resources.”
In addition to building houses, he said he would have no difficulty with the State purchasing many of the houses it has leased under the long-term leasing scheme and the rental accommodation scheme.
“It is extraordinary that the State is, effectively, prepared to pay the mortgages of private landlords,” he said.” At the end of the lease period these houses will return to the landlords after the State having paid the mortgage on their behalf over a period of years. The provision of housing accommodation for the 98,318 households that are not in a position to provide housing from their own resources should be undertaken by the State, and the current policy should be reversed.”