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Taoiseach defends response to housing crisis

The Fianna Fail leader said the Government wants to build social housing ‘at scale’.

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Taoiseach Micheal Martin faced criticism on housing from Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald (Niall Carson/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin faced criticism on housing from Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald (Niall Carson/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin faced criticism on housing from Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald (Niall Carson/PA)

The Taoiseach has defended the Government’s response to the housing crisis, saying that plans are under way to establish the State’s biggest social housing build programme.

The Government pledged to build 9,500 social homes next year, a 22% increase on this year’s target of 7,736, Micheal Martin said.

The Fianna Fail leader said the Government wants to build social housing “at scale”.

Mr Martin made the comments in response to criticism from Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald.

Ms McDonald said the Government’s “lack of urgency” to tackle the crisis was “concerning”.

She added: “The (Housing) Minister Darragh O’Brien spent the entire summer on the media telling people he would publish his affordable housing plan in September, but September came, September went and still no affordable housing materialised.

“The budget came in October and it, too, was a massive disappointment.

“The housing measures fell far short of what is needed to deal with the most serious affordable and social housing crisis in the history of the State.”

Mr Martin said that Covid-19 has impacted on housebuilding.

He also accused Ms McDonald of using “propagandistic” language.

“To describe a 3.3 billion euro budget allocation as massively disappointing is extraordinary by any yardstick,” he added.

“Fianna Fail has not been in power for 10 years.

“That is just the reality and the facts, but Sinn Fein never allows facts get in the way of anything.

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“That is what this budget does. We also want to build affordable houses. Supply is the key to the housing crisis.

To describe a 3.3 billion euro budget allocation as massively disappointing is extraordinary by any yardstick. Micheal Martin

“We know there has been a crisis in the housing supply and an issue in terms of affordability and the provision of social homes over the last number of years.

“That is why more than three billion euro was secured in the budget to give the resources to get started on what will be the biggest social housing build programme in the history of the State.”

He told the Dail that 110 million euro has been provided for the affordable housing and cost rental schemes while 435 million euro will go towards a new programme for cost rental homes.

However, Ms McDonald said that “more new money” will go to private landlords and private developers than affordable homes.

“So long as housing policy in this State is directed by and for wealthy developers and landlords, we will never fix the housing crisis and our people will continue to suffer,” she added.

The Dublin Central TD pointed to the Daft.ie report published on Monday which shows that rents outside Dublin jumped by 3% in the past year.

“It is alarming to see rental increases of almost 5% in Cork, Galway and Waterford and hikes as large as 7% in counties such as Wexford,” she added.

“The average State-wide rent now stands at 1,419 euro per month. New Dublin city rents now average 2,028 euro.

“There is no good news for renters here in the capital. This crisis is clearly getting worse.

“Just as when it comes to affordable housing, there is no response from the minister.”

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