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Saturday 24 February 2018

Conor Skehan - Housing Agency Chair

Did Conor Skehan ask the Housing Agency to investigate the 'gaming of the system' more or not?
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government
Role of Chairperson of Housing Agency and Related Matters: Discussion
31 January 2018

Mr. Conor Skehan: First, I home in on his concern about crossing a line in terms of my role in the agency. The first thing to bear in mind is that I am chairman of the board and not a member of staff. My job as chair and our job as the board is to challenge our executive - sometimes to say, "Well done", sometimes to say, "Try harder" and sometimes to say, "Look harder."
Full video Oireachtas Video archive

Eoin Ó Broin:I asked when Mr. Skehan asked the Housing Agency to conduct a further study given his view that the 2016 study was out of date. Is he saying he did not ask the Housing Agency to do another study?

Mr. Conor Skehan:I have never asked the Housing Agency to do any studies. What we have is a-----

Eoin Ó Broin:Would it not have been appropriate to ask the agency to do a study before floating the idea publicly that he was not satisfied with the 2016 report? Would that not have been more sensible given that Mr. Skehan is the chairman of the body?

Mr. Conor Skehan:No. To be clear, the Housing Agency has, among other roles, a research function. We have a wonderful research officer, Mr. David Silke, who presents his research priorities for the following 12 or 18 months to the board every year. Again, this is a rolling programme. I do not always agree with Mr. Silke's priorities but it is his job to tell us what he believes we need to examine. He presents his priorities to the board every year and we accept them and move on. That his job and he is very good at it.

Eoin Ó Broin:Given Mr. Skehan's concern about the possibility of gaming the system and his view that the 2016 report was out of date and in light of his statement that part of the job of the board is to challenge the Housing Agency, you had never actually asked the agency to conduct a follow-up report on this issue?

Mr. Conor Skehan:The Deputy should see the list of things----

Eoin Ó Broin:That is a "Yes" or "No" question.

Mr. Conor Skehan
:It is not a "Yes" or "No" question. The Deputy should see the list of things we give poor old David Silke every year. They are in accordance with the priorities. We basically ask him what he is doing to study vacancy or affordability. The list is the list. I gave the joint committee a copy of the list of priorities and I make no apologies for having priorities. That is good management and gives a clear steer to the board.

Eoin Ó Broin:That is a "No" in reply to my question.

Mr. Conor Skehan:Deputy Ó Broin, you are a scallywag. That is not a "No" to the question.

Eoin Ó Broin
:It is a "No".

Conor Skehan Presentation documents.