All Things Ireland: New year, new government, new policies?

Welcome to All Things Ireland.

LGIU Ireland’s weekly collation of everything local government in Ireland, this week we bring you the latest reports and updates to kick start your 2023 in Irish local government.

Containing all the key reports on housing, planning and good practice updates, find out everything you need for your next week in Irish local government.


More from LGIU Ireland

 Reform of Ireland’s Planning Appeals Board

This briefing examines the background to An Bord Pleanála Action Plan and outlines the major reforms which have been approved by the Government and announced by the Minister.

The Office of the Planning Regulator in Ireland

To find out more about the role of the OPR, check out this short blog which explains the role of the OPR in Ireland’s planning system.

A Christmas gift for frustrated planners, on the 20th December the Office of the Planning Regulator published the second part of its review of An Bord Pleanála. Welcomed by the Irish Planning Institute, the report contains 23 recommendations ranging from organisational decision-making, communications, and governance arrangements of case files. Read the full report here!

Before years end, the OPR also published its Annual Overview of the Planning System 2021. A strategic review of planning system, 2021 saw a 29% increase in planning applications made in 2021 compared to 2020, but a declining approval rates for planning permissions. With report also noting the 20% disparity between the local authority grant rates, make sure you check out the full report here, 

With the OPR report coinciding with the signing into law of the Planning and Development and Foreshore (Amendment) Bill 2022, increasing the board numbers of ABP,

Shortly before Christmas, the Irish Planning Institute (IPI) noted the signing into law of the Planning and Development and Foreshore (Amendment) Bill 2022, and welcomed the increase in board numbers, agreeing with the OPR report on the critical role of An Bord Pleanála.

A response to questions from Kildare councillor Fiona McLoughlin Healy sparked an investigation by Noteworthy which has found that governance issues in a large number of other local development companies across Ireland, with a significant number of board members serving lengthy terms of over a decade.

Finally, kickstarting 2023, on New Years Day the OPR’s Niall Cussen told the Sunday Independent that “a big part of our housing crisis comes down to cost and economics — not planning”, and focuses on the “Penny-wise but pound-poor choices” funding models. Read the full article here!

Council updates

Digitising Local Government- Build to Share in Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown County Council

Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown County Council shares the details a recent Build to Share (Bts) project which aims to establish an approach to the development of digital systems.

Following one of the recommendations of the Government’s Night-Time Economy task force, Galway City Council is set to hire a “Night Time Mayor” as part of the Council’s wider plan to develop and broaden Galway’s night-time economy.

Tipperary County Council launched a new service to lend the ACORN tablet. ACORN is Ireland’s first Age-Friendly smart tablet, Irish made and designed with the older person in mind, ensuring everyone can avail of the increasingly digitised delivery of public services.

Locals Encouraged To Drop Into Community Living Rooms. To help provide a network of friendly drop-in locations for people across north Dublin, Fingal County Council has today launched a pilot initiative at three key centres that will give a welcoming and comfortable environment where people can feel at ease and at home.

Fingal County Council published its Gender Pay Gap Report for 2022 showing the Council has a Mean Gender Pay Gap of 4.58% and a Median Gender Pay Gap of 1.98%. You can the full report here, or read this LGIU briefing from Dr. Aodh Quinlivan about the considerable challenges associated with improving the participation rates of women in Ireland’s political arena.


House price developments and prospects

This briefing explores the topic of house prices and over valuation in further detail and analyses the possible trends for the near future.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Irish Times, Dublin City Council chief executive Owen Keegan starts his final 9 months as Chief Executive with an intense focus on housing, outlining plans for the Council to acquire surplus land from institutional/religious groups, and rezone further land for housing. Read the full interview here!

Setting the tone for 2023, the Social Housing Construction Projects Status Report Q3 2022, a recent Freedom of Information Act reported on by the Irish Times showed the IDA’s concern about housing issues in Ireland obstructing investment in 2022. also shares concern for housing in 2023, with the Q4 2022 Housing Report finding that market resilience set to be tested in 2023.

Housing Finance Agency (HFA) is set to fund Mayo County Council to begin a pilot, in collaboration with housing solutions platform, Homebuyer’s Hero, aimed at turning some of Mayo’s 9,166 vacant properties back into homes. Starting with a pool of 30-50, you can read more about the pilot from the HFA here.

A further bundle of projects under the social housing Public Private Partnership (PPP) Programme is expected to deliver almost 600 new social homes across nine sites in Cork, Kildare, Monaghan, Sligo and Wicklow.

November 2022 Homelessness Report sheds light on the concentration of adults in emergency accommodation in the greater Dublin area. Read the full breakdown here.

A Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage report now gives an overview of the funding provided by the Department through local authorities to Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs), in the provision of social housing under the various funding mechanisms and schemes, for the years 2018-2021.

Climate and the Environment

COP-26: One Year On – Global Local Executive Panel

Composed of Council Chief Executives from Ireland, the UK and Australia, this panel summary highlights all that has happened in the last twelve months and the ongoing implications for local government from the COP-26 discussions and resolutions.

Climate Action Plan 2023 sets out how Ireland will accelerate the action required to respond to the climate crisis, with a bold focus on renewable energy, active travel, and increasing public transport provision and uptake.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, a vast area of peatbog in the Highlands could become one of the newest UNESCO sites. This comes at the same time as a €15 million Irish government investment in peatland restoration, with collaboration across the island of Ireland and Scotland seeking to share agri-environment expertise. Find the full project details here!

Geological Survey Ireland has awarded geoheritage grants to six community-based projects in Waterford, Meath, Castlecomer, the Burren and Cliffs of Moher and the Joyce Country and Western Lakes. Read the full list of projects here.


Local government response to an international crisis: Ukrainian refugees

Since March 2022, approx. 70,000 Ukrainian refugees have come to Ireland. This briefing looks in particular at how Clare County Council has managed the various national and local refugee initiatives (such as Offer A Home) and the challenges they’ve faced in the resettlement process.

Healthy Ireland Ukrainian Resilience Fund is a once off €1 million fund which will support projects developed by Local Authority Community Response Forums. Following applications from Local Authorities across the country funding is being distributed by Healthy Ireland to fund a number of projects in 30 Local Authorities across the 26 counties. Find out the full funding breakdown here.

Northern Ireland

For more on the politics of NI, check out this recent LGIU blog looks at why is Northern Ireland so jolly?

NI’s council elections will be moved back to 18th May 2022 to avoid clashing with King Charles III’s coronation, and the NIO will soon bring forward legislation to move to change the originally planned local election for May 4th.

Belfast City Council heard a recent motion to pilot a school street in Belfast following the success of Fingal County Council and Galway City Council. To find out more about what a school streets is, and their implementation in Irish local authorities, click here!

NI Chamber of Commerce President, Gillian McAuley, made a 2023 call for political stability to bring some much-need relied for NI businesses.

Transport and Infrastructure

Cork County Council: A month in the life

In this briefing, Cork County Council provides an insight into their October of 2022, including their work on infrastructure projects, environment and sustainability initiatives, housing and community.

With Dublin City Council recently establishing an Active Travel Network Office to deliver a programme of improved walking and cycle infrastructure across the city, this blog from Dublin City Architects explore the potentials of Active Travel infrastructure.

Local Government insights from Scotland

At LGIU we know that places are unique; but so many of the challenges faced by local governments are shared with their colleagues across countries and across continents. To promote the sharing of local government best practice and innovation, this week we have picked two key policy briefings from Scotland that are relevant to Irish local authorities.

Working at home or in the office? The growth of hybrid working in local government. Use case studies from two Scottish local authorities, this briefing looks at home and hybrid working, exploring how local governments face this evolving and change landscape.

The ‘Housing First’ approach to homelessness. This briefing looks at the Housing First approach to homelessness. It highlights how, with its focus on rough sleeping, it has changed the approach of the Government and local authorities in tackling the problem of people with high and complex needs.

Stay tuned!

Shaping up to be another year where Ireland’s planning system is in the spotlight, for those looking to navigate their way through the planning system, check out these short informative videos from the OPR.

Next week LGIU Ireland will bring you all the latest on COP 27 in Ireland, and we will hear from Fingal County Council on the award-winning weather stations in schools project.

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