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Amended Part V of Planning Act has institutionalised bribery says Ó Caoláin

21 March, 2006

Speaking during tonight's Private Members Motion in the Dáil, which is dealing with planning and community development the Sinn Féin group leader, Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD, said that Part V of the Planning Act had now institutionalised bribery by allowing speculators and developers buy their way out of providing social and affordable housing.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "It is often said that the Irish people are suffering from Tribunal fatigue. It is true that many people have switched off. But that does not mean that people have forgotten or have absolved those involved in planning corruption. Far from it. They have confirmed the corrupt relationship between developers, property speculators and the establishment political parties in this State.

"It is crystal clear to anyone with a brain that those payments were not made by developers out of the goodness of their hearts. Only the most naïve and the most partisan can refuse to believe that Dublin County Council in the 1980s was rotten with corruption. The developers and speculators called the shots.

"The brown envelope culture has been exposed but it has been replaced with the institutionalised brown envelope. This Government's housing policy is driven not by the housing needs of families and individuals but by the profit motive of developers and speculators. They still call the shots.

"Early this month housing figures exposed the abject failure of this Government's social and affordable housing policy. They confirmed that we now have legalised and institutionalised bribery of local authorities by developers facilitated by this Government. It has allowed developers to bribe their way out of providing social housing under Part V of the Planning and Development Act. As originally passed this Act required developers to devote 20% of each housing development to social and affordable housing. The friends of Fianna Fáil in the construction industry raised an almighty clamour and the Act was amended to allow them to side-step this obligation by paying money or land to local authorities. Seldom has a lobby succeeded in getting a law changed in such a short time.

"The amending legislation to allow the developers off the hook has done nothing to provide homes for those most in need of them. It has fuelled the spiralling cost of housing and encouraged property speculation.

"We now find that of 80,000 new homes built last year only 830 were allocated to local authorities under Part V. That's not much more than 1% - never mind 20%. That reads like a bad joke. Less than 6% of all housing now being built is local authority housing. Over 130,000 people are denied decent housing in one of the wealthiest states in Europe." ENDS

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