Housing crisis

Sinn Fein putting slogans before substance on housing crisis, says Taoiseach

The Taoiseach has accused Sinn Fein of putting slogans before substance as it renews hostilities with Mary Lou McDonald over Ireland’s housing crisis.

Icheal Martin and Ms McDonald were again involved in combative exchanges at the Dail over their respective proposals to tackle homelessness, supply problems and soaring rents and buying costs.

The pressure on the housing system is expected to further intensify with the arrival of tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees in Ireland.

On Wednesday, Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien said a further 35,000 homes could be needed on top of the government’s plan to build 33,000 a year as part of its flagship housing for all strategy.

Ms McDonald used her contribution to Leaders’ Questions in the Dail to accuse the government of a serial failure on housing. She said the Ukrainian refugee crisis revealed the shortcomings of the current approach.

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Mary Lou McDonald criticized the housing approach (Brian Lawless/PA)

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Mary Lou McDonald criticized the housing approach (Brian Lawless/PA)

“We are now facing crisis upon crisis, she said.

“We are facing a massive housing emergency and the scale of government response must match this reality.

“It is unconscionable to blindly pursue policies that are so clearly failing and the evidence of that failure is evident every day.”

Mr. Martin responded in strong terms. He claimed that Sinn Fein was contributing to supply issues by repeatedly opposing property developments that involved private sector involvement at local government level.

He said the main opposition party had always opposed government plans to make housing more affordable.

‘It’s about slogans, not substance all the time in terms of housing policy,’ he told Ms McDonald.

The Taoiseach said the Housing for All plan was “very substantial, well researched and evidence-based”.

“I saw nothing compared to your party in response,” he added.

“I haven’t seen anything in terms of solutions. We all know the reality. I have accepted that housing is the biggest crisis facing this government.

Ms McDonald dismissed the Taoiseach’s claims.

“It’s very clear Taoiseach, again you can’t defend your government’s record on housing, how could you,” she said.

“Ten thousand homeless is not a slogan, house prices are exploding – 20% in rural areas – is not a slogan and generations excluded from home ownership and faced with rents exorbitant is not a slogan.

“And 35,000 additional homes now needed according to your own housing minister on the radio this morning to house families from Ukraine, my God Taoiseachm that’s not a slogan.

“Taoiseach, these are realities. I invite you, as head of government, to face these realities head-on.

“Your Housing for All plan is in tatters. It was never fit for purpose to begin with, but, my God, now that we’re dealing with crisis after crisis, refugee crisis after housing crisis, the game is over.