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Minister O’Brien Calls for Expressions of Interest for Membership of Commission on Housing

  • - Government approves establishment of Commission on Housing
  • - Commission to examine issues such as maintaining sustainable housing supply; tenure choice; housing costs and quality

The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, TD, has called for expressions of interest from members of the public to apply to be a member of the Commission on Housing, which is due to be established before the end of the year. At its meeting this morning, the Government approved the establishment of a Commission on Housing. The Commission will examine long-term housing policy, beyond 2030, and report to Government on how to build on policy changes committed to under Housing for All, the Government’s national plan on housing to 2030.

The establishment of the Commission will fulfil commitments made in the Programme for Government and in Housing for All. Minister O’Brien has already appointed John O’Connor, former Chief Executive Officer of the Housing Agency, as Chair-Designate of the Commission.

The Commission will be tasked with examining and reporting on:

  • maintaining a sustainable housing supply and providing balance and choice of tenures, having regard to social, environmental and economic objectives
  • the cost and quality of housing, the drivers of cost (including, inter alia, embodied carbon compliance), and how costs may be addressed and compliance achieved in the longer term
  • the capacity of the construction sector to meet housing supply requirements
  • the affordability of private rental accommodation
  • the affordability of house purchasing for first-time buyers, examining in particular, measures that would complement or enhance the recently introduced affordable housing measures (including new models of affordable housing)
  • rural housing and how it can be facilitated in a socially and environmentally sustainable way and allows for development of appropriate one-off housing
  • the need for regulation of social housing
  • the optimum role of Approved Housing Bodies in housing provision, including their role regarding the needs of vulnerable groups
  • the referendum on housing (the Commission will examine the complex constitutional questions arising and examine the various proposals that have been made around potential wording for a Constitutional amendment. It will make recommendations on the appropriate wording to be put to the people).

While the membership of the Commission will be limited to 12, the Commission and/or its subcommittees will be able to consult with external experts and stakeholders and will have an important role to build consensus on housing issues. The commission will submit reports on these areas to the Minister by the end of July 2023.

Publishing the call for expressions of interest today, Minister O’Brien said: “The Government recognises the need for a long-term approach to housing policy, an enduring approach that transcends changes of government. That is why, as promised under Housing for All and the Programme for Government, I am establishing a Commission on Housing.

“The Commission will look at important issues like housing tenure, cost, quality and supply, the cost of private rental accommodation and social housing. It will be comprised of national and international experts, who will take a long-term view on how to create a sustainable housing system that will meet people’s housing needs into the future. I appeal to anyone with the relevant expertise and experience to put their name forward for consideration for this important work by December 10th.”

John O’Connor, Chair-Designate of the Commission, said: “The Commission on Housing can play a pivotal role in influencing the future shape of our housing system, in particular achieving quality, affordable homes for all. We need to build homes and communities as an integral part of a more sustainable society.”

“As Chair, I intend to work with all other Commission members in a collaborative and pragmatic way to provide solutions to how we create a sustainable housing system, delivering the homes that are needed, for the long-term. I have experience working with a range of interest groups, with a focus on finding solutions and delivering results. I look forward to working with those appointed once the Commission is established.”

Minister O’Brien is due to formally establish the Commission after the expressions of interest process is completed in December. It will have up to 12 members:

  • Mr John O’Connor (Chair)
  • Two international experts, appointed by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage
  • Up to nine other members, to be selected through a publically advertised expressions of interest process. An assessment panel will make recommendations to the Minister, who will appoint these members.

The call for expressions of interest (and the commission’s terms of reference) can be found here:


Notes to Editors


  • Housing for All, the Government’s national plan on housing, commits to the establishment of a Commission at Housing: “Establish a Commission on Housing to examine issues including standards, sustainability and quality-of-life issues in the provision of housing”, with a timeline of Q4 2021.
  • The Programme for Government also commits to establishing a Commission on Housing to examine issues such as tenure, standards, sustainability and quality-of-life issues in the provision of housing, all of which have long-term impacts on communities. It also contains a commitment to hold a referendum on housing. It is planned that the Commission on Housing will bring forward proposals on the wording for the referendum
  • Details of the call for expressions of interest for members of the commission (and its terms of reference) can be found here:


John O’Connor – biography

John O’Connor, widely considered to be one of the most knowledgeable and experienced people in the Irish housing sector, is a highly effective and innovative leader in public service. Known for his collaborative and partnership approach across all sectors – public, private and not-for-profit – this is coupled with a practical and action-oriented approach to getting things done. 

John recently retired from being Chief Executive Officer of the Housing Agency. His previous roles included CEO of the Affordable Homes Partnership, and the Executive Manager of the Housing & Communities Department in Dublin City Council. In his earlier career he worked in the construction industry in the private sector before moving to local government. He is a Chartered Engineer, qualitied in civil and structural engineer and holds qualifications in other areas including project management.

John O’Connor chaired the Advisory Committee on Unfinished Housing Developments and the Building Control Stakeholder Group in 2014 to support the strengthening of the system of building control. He has also served on several housing related committees in Northern Ireland. His previous role as CEO and board member of the Housing Agency provides him with a unique awareness of the operation of the housing sector. He is a Board member of the Land Development Agency and a member of the Housing Defects Working Group.

Through these roles and along with participating on a broad range of boards, committees and consultation groups, he has accumulated a deep understanding and expertise in many areas of housing. This has built his leadership skills in the development of social and affordable housing policy, its implementation and in housing delivery. He has been involved with and managed the delivery of a wide range of housing, community and regeneration projects. In recent years, he has been instrumental in developing new funding systems for the approved housing body sector and the introduction of cost rental housing.

John O’Connor’s vast housing experience, his leadership qualities and innovative thinking coupled with his collaborative and practical approach will be put to good use in his new role as chair of the Commission on Housing.