housing crisis | 

Sinn Féin's Eoin O' Broin says Irish property owners akin to people 'hoarding food during a famine'

O’ Broin said his party would tax unused land and vacant properties

Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Niamh Horan

Sinn Fein Housing Spokesperson Eoin O’ Broin has compared Irish property owners who hoard land during a housing crisis to people “hoarding food during a famine.”

In a wide-ranging interview with Hotpress magazine Mr O Broin also said that the biggest tracts of “unused residentially-zoned land” is resting “in the State’s hands.”

He also addressed holdings by NAMA, private investors and institutional investors and the need to ensure that Ireland’s public policy means that private land will be used appropriately.

“The biggest tracts of unused residentially-zoned land are in the State’s hands. There should be punitive taxes on those properties, not to raise revenue but to force those properties into use.”

His party would tax unused land and vacant properties to dis-incentivise people hoarding it or “drip-feeding” it to the market.

On vacant properties in cities and towns, which he believes are being left idle “for speculative purposes” he said: “If you walk into Blessington Street (in Dublin) or George’s Street, you’ll see whole blocks of beautiful buildings left idle. That’s prime real estate. Those buildings are structurally in good condition, if not necessarily ready to move into now, and they’re sitting on those properties effectively cost-free. Hoarding property and land during a housing crisis is like hoarding food during a famine. It should not be allowed.”

He said Sinn Fein would introduce property taxes and vacant land taxes to ensure “if you inherit an old property you could effectively bring it back to use, or rent it or sell it or give it to the Council for social housing.”

Elsewhere in the interview Mr O Broin also gave a hint of the Party’s preparations ahead of the next general election: “We knock on doors three times a week every week.”

Mr O Broin also to the music magazine that the party has been “developing a reputation” for having “very, very credible alternative policies” on housing, healthcare and child care. As well as advancing Irish unification: “I think that combination of ideas is succeeding.”

He said every government is going to be judged on housing. “Even if the government meets its targets it’s nowhere near enough. Any party that presides over a worsening housing crisis will lose seats in the election afterwards.”

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