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Labour is LOVING Alan Kelly and he has a plan to tackle high rents (but it's not rent control)

The conference debated environment, housing and, of course, water this morning.

Updated 4.30pm

27/02/2015. Labour - 68th National Conference. Pic Alan Kelly at the Labour conference last night Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

THE LABOUR PARTY has paid tribute to Environment Minister Alan Kelly at its conference in Killarney this morning.

The party’s deputy leader has also announced plans to tackle the problem of landlords increasing rents excessively over the next three to four years.

Speaking to Labour delegates during a televised session this afternoon, Kelly said that he would introduce regulations and legislation if needed to tackle high rents, citing Dublin as particularly problematic.

The Minister earlier indicated support for a motion to freeze rents in the private rental sector for the next two years, saying he will do “everything I can to bring about rent certainty”.

Speaking to the media later in the day, Kelly said that the new proposals would involve “a framework” and insisted he was not introducing rent controls. He said he hoped to be able to introduce changes before the end of the year.

“I am not talking about rent controls. It’s a different model, this is rent certainty… What we’re looking at is a process whereby people can have some certainty as regards rent into the future while [housing] supply is being dealt with.”

It’s understood the proposals would involve landlords not being able to increase rent beyond the rise in the consumer price index unless they can show that upgrades have been carried out on a rental property that would justify an above inflation rent increase.

What else is happening…

Labour is holding its annual gathering at the INEC on the outskirts of the Kerry town with dozens of motions before the conference.

Speaking to delegates the morning, Kelly criticised the water protesters, pointing out that they charge for water on communist-run Cuba.

He again rejected calls for a referendum on ownership of Irish Water, saying there was “triple-lock” that would prevent it being privatised.

Several delegates had warm words for the party’s deputy leader during a morning session on environment and housing.

Kelly’s own Labour branch in Tipperary even put forward a motion – which was passed – recognising the positive difference Labour and the minister in particular has made on the issues of water and housing.

Addressing delegates, Kelly joked that his brief “believe it or not, it’s not just about water”. He launched a scathing attack on the Green Party and Eamon Ryan’s recent criticism of him:

The conference heard criticism of the local government reforms introduced by Kelly’s predecessor Phil Hogan.

Kilkenny councillor Seán Ó hArgáin saying the abolition of town and borough councils was a “fundamentally stupid” decision.

Kelly said that he was always “very nervous about the programme of reforms that took place” under Hogan and said he would support a motion calling for a comprehensive review of the changes.

Equality Minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin later told the conference that he hoped to introduce two weeks paid paternity leave for fathers before the end of the year.

This could be extended to same-sex families, the Labour conference heard.

Follow @TJ_ Politics and @oconnellhugh for updates from the Labour conference in Killarney. 

VIDEO: Watch this Labour minister rule out coalition with just about everyone*

About last night: As Labour’s conference opens, Alan Kelly says this is one of the best governments ever

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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