Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil block Seanad bill on urban regeneration

9th February 2017

The Green Party today expressed disappointment that the Derelict and Vacant Sites Bill 2017, which was co-signed by the independent Civil Engagement Group, was defeated in the Seanad.
Fine Gael raised concerns about constitutional implications of moving the timeline on levies forward, while Fianna Fáil objected to the stronger tenancy rights in the Bill.
Speaking following the vote, Senator O’Sullivan said: “While it is extremely disappointing that this very important piece of legislation will not progress past second stage, I am heartened that the issue is now firmly on the agenda.
“Our Bill was designed to tackle vacancy and dereliction in our town centres, and to encourage an end to a situation where we have 200,000 empty houses in the middle of a homelessness crisis. The measures outlined in the Bill were aimed at creating a much needed sense of urgency into tackling vacancy and dereliction in this country. It was designed to regenerate our urban areas, and bring life back to the centre of our towns and cities. While the Bill may have failed, it has brought the issue to prominence and highlighted ways in which the Government’s approach is lacking.
“We look forward to working with Government and all groups in the Seanad to improve this situation.”
Senator Grace O’Sullivan’s Bill was supported by the Seanad’s Civil Engagement Group.
Senator Collette Kelleher of the CEG said: “This Bill would have accelerated measures to improve existing housing policy at a time of a national housing crisis. The practical proposals in the Bill would have improved the cities and towns we live in and strengthened the protections for tenants in 'buy to let' homes.
“Above all the Bill would have brought 'a place to call home' closer to the more than 7,000 people in emergency accommodation and would have tackled the scandal of almost 200,000 vacant houses revealed in the 2016 census.
“The Bill would have made a real difference to women, men and children who are now in housing crisis who so desperately need long term, decent homes to live out decent and ordinary lives.”