Buttimer welcomes Minister’s decision on funding under SSNO scheme

Friday, July 18th 2014

  • Minister for the Environment restores funding to a number of health, disability and other organisations following review of the SSNO scheme

A number of organisations which provide great work were left not just extremely disappointed, but facing closure, after they failed to secure funding under the Scheme to Support National Organisations (SSNO).

I expressed concern about the impact of this on the groups involved on a number of occasions over the last few weeks. Many of these groups only get a small amount of funding from the Government, but it is absolutely vital for their survival. And without their good work, minority groups would suffer.

Minister Kelly has now decided to restore funding to groups which had previously received monies under the scheme, and which submitted valid applications this year. Bridging finance totalling just under €1.3 million for a 12 month period is being approved to avoid a sudden and adverse impact on these organisations.

A review will now be undertaken to ensure public money is being well spent and that there is no unnecessary duplication. While we must ensure efficiency and transparency, we must also not lose sight of humanity in the process. Small groups such as those funded under the SSNO scheme provide fantastic support, and I am glad that they can now plan ahead for the next twelve months with certainty.

Posted under Children & Youth Affairs, Environment, Health, National Work

Cork allocated almost €2.8m in funding to turn 179 vacant units into homes – Buttimer

Tuesday, 8th July 2014

  • €2.8 million to renovate vacant units across Cork City and County will create homes for 179 families.
  • Cork City Council is to be allocated more than €1.5 million in Government funding to turn 92 vacant units across the city into homes
  • Cork County Council is to receive almost €1.2 million to refurbish 87 housing units.
  • Nationally €15 million has been allocated nationally to bring 1,008 vacant local authority units into use. 

Refurbishing vacant houses so that they can again be used as homes is fundamental to meeting demands for social housing. In recent years a high number of local authority homes in Cork have been left vacant and boarded up, which is a complete waste. This funding will help turn vacant units back into homes for 179 families.

The Government is allocating €1,585,000 to Cork City Council, which will allow work to be carried out on 92 vacant properties, so they can be brought back into use. Cork County Council will receive €1,181,000 which will turn 87 vacant units into homes.

Less than three months ago the Government announced €1,280,000 to help City Council renovate 94 houses.  At that time almost €1 million was allocated to Cork County Council to refurbish 68 units.  This represents significant investment to help tackle the housing waiting lists.

It has been reported that there were 520 vacant units across Cork City, taking both rounds of funding into account, funding has been provided to renovate 186 units.  This will return 35% of all vacant units back into family homes.

So far this year, €30 million has been invested nationally on the refurbishment of vacant local authority houses. This programme will increase our social housing supply quickly and I hope that both City and County Councils can use this funding as soon as possible to deliver homes for 341 families.

Not only will this funding provide homes for families it will also create much needed jobs.  I am pleased that Councils are being encouraged to use community based organisations who recruit, train and engage long-term unemployed people for the refurbishment programme.

Posted under Carrigaline, Cork, Cork City, Douglas, Environment

Brooks debacle proves it’s time to review the licencing laws for concerts – Buttimer

Friday, July 4th 2014

  • Debacle surrounding the Garth Brooks concerts is proof that we need to review the licencing system for concerts and outdoor events
  • Must ensure tickets cannot be sold until a licence is granted

The fallout from Dublin City Council’s decision to refuse to grant licences for two out of the five Garth Brooks gigs has resulted in a meaningless blame game which is getting us nowhere. Trying to apportion blame to the promoters, or the City Manager, or the operators of Croke Park is pointless at this stage.

The reality is everyone involved was playing by the rules as they currently stand. Under our planning laws, events for more than 5,000 people require a licence. And there is nothing to stop promoters selling tickets before the licence is granted. In fact, doing so is probably the norm. The difference is, they got caught out this time round, and consumers are suffering as a result.

According to the current legislation, the application for a licence must be lodged with the local authority 16 weeks before an event, and the authority must allow five weeks to pass before making the decision on whether to grant the licence or not.

An amendment could be made to the current legislation stipulating that tickets cannot be sold until the licence is granted. An onus should be placed on local authorities to ensure the decision is made within a fixed timeframe. It would be acceptable for event organisers to promote the concert in advance, but tickets shouldn’t be sold until the licence is in place.

I do not see how this would cause any major problems. It is unusual for licences not to be granted. But only by changing the system will we ensure that we will avoid a situation in the future where hundreds of thousands of ticket holders are left out of pocket and deeply disappointed.

Clearly, an immediate solution needs to be found for the 400,000 ticket holders who still don’t know for definite whether any or all of the concerts will go ahead in just a few weeks’ time. But we also need to prevent this sort of debacle from happening again in the future.

ENDS

Posted under Cork City, Dáil Speeches, Environment, National Work, Tourism, Uncategorized