Land Development Agency Bill will 'strip powers from local authorities', Dáil hears

The bill would enable councils to transfer public land to the agency without a vote from councillors
Land Development Agency Bill will 'strip powers from local authorities', Dáil hears

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien: 'Local government and council will be the main driver of public housing, both social and affordable, and I want that to continue.'

The Government's Land Development Agency Bill is a threat to local democracy, the Dáil has been told.

The bill, which would put the Land Development Agency (LDA) on a statutory footing, underwent its third day of debate in the Dáil on Wednesday, with Opposition TDs criticising the bill's treatment of local authorities.

Under the bill, councils will be able to transfer State lands to the LDA without a vote from councillors. 

Sinn Féin TD for Louth, Imelda Munster, said that the bill is "Fine Gael policy dressed up in Fianna Fáil clothes" and said that it takes powers from elected councillors.

"The minister is stripping important powers from local authorities and handing them over to quangos, developers, and the Land Development Agency when all he needs to do is support local authorities to do the job they should be doing, that is, building social and affordable housing on public land," said Ms Munster.

"The council in Louth does not even have an appropriate maintenance budget to manage the existing stock. In Louth, if one's windows are broken or one's boiler gives out in the second half of the year, it will not be fixed by the council. 

That is how dysfunctional matters have become."

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien said that the Government had to "get on with [building on State lands]". He said there was a need to ensure that the LDA was up and running and capitalised on immediately. 

He said that the bill is important and that the State needs to "manage State lands better".

"This agency and the legislation which underpins it will endure for some time and we need to get it right," said Mr O'Brien. "We need to ensure that our State-owned land is used properly. 

"This is not an attack on local government at all. Local government and council will be the main driver of public housing, both social and affordable, and I want that to continue."

Mr O'Brien said that he was "open" to considering "reasonable amendments" to the bill at committee stage in the coming weeks.

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