Minister defends LDA plans after criticism of ‘insufficient’ €2.5bn budget

Chair of agency tasked with using State land for housing to work four to six days a month

John Moran, departing interim chairman of the Land Development Agency, claimed that the agency’s mission appeared to have been curtailed. File photograph: Alan Betson

John Moran, departing interim chairman of the Land Development Agency, claimed that the agency’s mission appeared to have been curtailed. File photograph: Alan Betson

 

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien has defended plans for the Land Development Agency (LDA) in the wake of concerns raised by its departing interim chairman John Moran.

Mr Moran has claimed that the LDA’s mission appeared to have been curtailed, and that its current €2.5 billion allocation for delivering housing was “insufficient”.

He also questioned whether the time commitment required of his successor as chairperson will be enough to do the job well. The job comes with pay of €31,500 per annum and the appointment booklet suggests the time requirement will be around four to six days per month.

Responding to Mr Moran’s remarks, a Department of Housing spokesman said: “The Minister can confirm that all of the LDA’s funding requirements to date have been provided for.”

He said: “The overall capitalisation of €1.25 billion for the LDA from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), along with its borrowing ceiling of €1.25 billion, are prescribed in the LDA Bill which the LDA was consulted on during the Bill drafting phase.”

The New Economy and Recovery Authority (NewERA) body – which is a business unit of the National Treasury Management Agency – also advised the Department of Housing and the Department of Finance on the appropriate borrowing limit for the LDA.

The spokesman said: “If additional capitalisation of the LDA is required in the future, that is something that can be considered at that time.”

On the issue of the time commitment being sought from the next chairperson, the spokesman said it was “consistent” with indicative time commitments being sought by “other comparable State agency chairperson positions”.

He added: “The LDA was also consulted in relation to the indicative time commitment required prior to the publication of the booklet.”

Last week, Mr Moran told The Irish Times there were “multiple reasons” for why he was not seeking the job permanently, which is tasked with boosting the supply of housing using State-owned land.

He said that the time required for the job was “considerable” and if it was “to be done well going forward, it is likely to require more than the time commitment proposed in the new advertisement.” He also said that “in recent months the mission also appears to have been curtailed” and that “against the scale of the housing crisis the €2.5 billion currently allocated to the LDA is insufficient to solve the problem”.

Mr Moran added: “To resolve these will require considerable time and open conversations between the board, the Minister and his department.

“At the end of the day, with other projects I am pursuing and related demands on my time, it would have been imprudent and unfair to pretend to be able to continue to do that under all the circumstances.”