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Land Development Agency criticised for withdrawing from housing committee meeting

Government and Opposition politicians express ‘disappointment’ over State body’s postponement of meeting until January

Government and Opposition politicians have criticised the Land Development Agency (LDA) after the State body unexpectedly withdrew from a meeting with the Oireachtas housing committee, citing talks on its new financial plan.

The LDA is responsible for building social and “affordable” housing on public lands, and subject to intense political scrutiny because of complaints about slow delivery.

Last week The Irish Times reported the Government was close to a deal to provide “up to €3 billion” in new capital to the LDA, whose initial €1.25 billion budget is almost fully committed. Such funding is about half the amount mooted by Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien when he said the agency could get €6 billion in a new five-year business plan.

Questions over LDA money were a priority for members of the Oireachtas housing committee in advance of a Leinster House meeting on Tuesday with the agency. But LDA chief executive John Coleman wants to postpone the meeting until the new year.


“As we are currently focused extensively on our funding discussions with the Government, I respectfully request that the LDA’s meeting with the committee be deferred to a suitable date in the new year,” Mr Coleman said in a letter to the committee.

“I would be grateful if you could suggest an alternative date, perhaps in January, for the LDA to meet with the committee at which point we will be happy to update the committee on the agency’s work.”

The LDA’s withdrawal has annoyed members of the panel on both the Government and Opposition benches, prompting the committee to urge the agency to rethink its position.

Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin said the deferral was “deeply disappointing and verging on disrespectful to the committee”. Fine Gael housing spokesman in the Seanad John Cummins said the LDA stance was “not satisfactory”.

Committee chairman Steven Matthews, a Green TD, said: “I understand the letter has gone to the LDA to express the disappointment of the committee and to ask it to reconsider and to attend on Tuesday.”

There was no comment from the LDA to add to Mr Coleman’s letter.

The agency’s finances have been a source a division in the division in the Coalition. The deal for some €3 billion would fund the LDA for the first three years of the 2024-2028 business plan but the LDA would still be required to return later to the Government to fund the final two years.

Mr Ó Broin said: “It is clear from the content of their letter that they are now withdrawing because they don’t want to be asked questions because of the ongoing discussions about their recapitalisation.”

He added: “I’m also of the view that they are reluctant to come before the committee to address questions over what is another year of underdelivery of affordable homes.”

Mr Cummins said the committee still wants to see the LDA before January. “This is probably a good while in the works,” he said.

“To be pushing it into the new year is certainly not ideal. There are many many items which the committee is anxious to speak to the LDA on – and we still want that to happen before Christmas.”

Mr Matthews said: “This is the second occasion. We had a meeting scheduled for November, which they asked us to defer. So we deferred it until December 12th and again they have asked that meeting to be deferred.”

Still, the committee chairman noted the LDA was in a negotiation with Government. “To be honest I’d prefer them to be before us with a full set of facts on their funding for the year ahead. I’m disappointed but it’s not the end of the world and we’ll have them in January.”

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Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times