Senator Alice Mary Higgins wins 'use it or lose it' amendments to the Housing Bill 2016

The final debate on the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Bill 2016 finished at 11pm last night in the Seanad. The video above is from last week's Committee stage where I put forward a number of amendments on issues of rent certainty, receivers and evictions.

I also proposed a number of 'use it or lose it' amendments on planning to tackle the problem of land speculation and hoarding. I was happy that the Government accepted at least one of these amendments, ensuring that any developers receiving 'fast track' planning application cannot apply for planning extensions if they don't build.

Last night at report stage I was delighted to win a vote on three further amendments - increasing protection against eviction for tenants when a property is sold and narrowing the loopholes for landlords seeking such evictions. I also contributed to the successful passing of an amendment from Fianna Fáil to ensure receivers must operate within the same constraints and responsibilities as landlords. These are five significant improvements to the legislation but still just part of the bigger picture - increased investment in social housing is also urgently needed to address our homelessness crisis.

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The 'low-ball' public procurement model is broken and needs reform

Read my op-ed in The Journal here -

IN 2019, IRELAND spent €12 billion on contracts for goods, services and construction. This figure is set to rise considerably in the coming years as €116 billion in major capital works projects are rolled out under the National Development Plan.

The public has a right to expect that when money is spent on their behalf, it is spent in a way that delivers the best results. That requires a carefully thought-through approach to the quality of standards and performance in areas like sustainability, social impact, decent employment and design.