Sunday 30 April 2017

FG accused of 'navel-gazing' over leadership - while no progress is made elsewhere

Government in dock over slow housing progress and spiralling children’s hospital costs

Fianna Fáil housing spokesman Barry Cowen. Photo: Tom Burke
Fianna Fáil housing spokesman Barry Cowen. Photo: Tom Burke
John Downing

John Downing

Fine Gael has been accused of “navel-gazing” about its party leadership while no progress is being made on housing supply and the spiralling costs of the planned children’s hospital.

Fianna Fáil’s Barry Cowen said after the distraction of talks about the Taoiseach’s leadership it was time to face the grim reality that very little progress was being made in implementing the plans to tackle housing and homelessness.

Mr Cowen said that Focus Ireland had pointed out that last month a child became homeless every five hours. 

He disputed the Taosieach’s assertion on Tuesday that 8,500 housing units were currently under construction.

The Fianna Fáil TD said in reality only 1,828 units were actually being built – the rest were at various stages of planning and approval. He predicted that the housing plan targets would not be met.

“You are obsessed with announcements in the hope that you will bamboozle people,” Mr Cowen said.

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald accused Fine Gael of “navel-gazing” about the party leadership.  She said that in the meantime the planned children’s hospital costs had jumped from €404m in 2012 to over €1bn.

“As it stands Ireland’s National Children’s Hospital – if it is ever built – will be the most expensive hospital anywhere in the world,” Ms McDonald said.

Replying for the Government Tánaiste, Frances Fitzgerald, said the Government had managed to cut unemployment from a high of over 15.5pc to 6.8pc. 

She said the housing budget had been increased by more than any other budget sector and the plans would be implemented.

On the National Children’s Hospital, Ms Fitzgerald said that the project had finally been agreed and would go ahead.

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