A heated exchange took place at the Dáil between Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald over the housing crisis, where McDonald told Martin that he should be “ashamed” that only eight affordable homes are ready this year.
Describing the situation as “scandalous”, McDonald stated that “people deserve a full explanation” in regards to why such a dismal number of affordable housing has been constructed so far this year.
Rejecting McDonald’s assertions, Martin stated that the government’s housing policy “is very much focused on affordable homes” while adding that its policy is contrary to Sinn Féin’s position on affordable housing, stating that the party has “consistently opposed” housing developments that contain affordable units.
He added, “It has voted against every affordability measure at every turn. In particular, it opposed the help-to-buy scheme that has helped 22,000 people to get onto the property market. It opposed more than 6,000 homes in Dublin City Council and Fingal County Council. Right across the board, it has opposed projects that had significant affordable components in those particular schemes,”.
McDonald stated that it seems housing for the Taoiseach “is all about profits of the private sector” as well as “government initiatives that are really about lining the pockets of developers.”
McDonald also mentioned rent prices in the country, claiming that the Taoiseach “knows full well that so many people are stuck paying massive rents, forking out as much as €2,000 a month” while adding, “I do not know how a person can put together a deposit for a house while paying that kind of rent.”
Martin attributed some of the blame to the Covid-19 pandemic for the low rate at which homes are being built and defended Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien, saying that he passed legislation that underpinned affordability measures while the construction industry was stalled.
IMAGE – RTÉ/Sinn Féin (via Twitter)