Friday 21 October 2016

Kelly's plan a 'return to FF era' as war of words over housing escalates

Niall O'Connor and Daniel McConnell

Published 10/10/2015 | 02:30

Alan Kelly
Alan Kelly

Measures to ramp up the supply of housing from next year will be the subject of further negotiations on Monday as the Coalition tussles over proposals to offer sweeteners to developers.

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The war of words between the Coalition partners over the issue of housing escalated yesterday after Environment Minister Alan Kelly's plans to deliver 8,650 new homes were described as "skewed".

The €180m package, revealed by the Irish Independent on Thursday, has been the subject of a bitter row between Mr Kelly and Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

The plan would see subsidies provided to developers who provide homes quickly, in large volumes and at affordable rates.

Those who enter the scheme would be required to sell homes at below market value in a bid to ramp up supply.

A meeting in Government Buildings over the plan on Thursday became so heated, it surprised some of the Coalition's most experienced figures.

Mr Noonan's officials believe the plan is "skewed" and have instead proposed a separate housing strategy which aims to deliver 20,000 homes by 2020 via the National Assets Management Agency (Nama).

The emergence of a separate housing plan to the one proposed by Mr Kelly has created tensions in the Coalition.

These tensions heightened last night after Fine Gael figures likened Mr Kelly's plan to the "bad old days of Fianna Fáil" during which "developers were rewarded".

But Mr Kelly, the Labour Party deputy leader, is adamant that the plan has merit and he will try to push it through during negotiations on Monday. However, sources say it may be altered in a bid to secure approval at Tuesday morning's Cabinet meeting.

Responding to the Fine Gael criticism of the plan, Labour sources accused the party of neglecting the homeless issue.

"It's difficult to pinpoint Fine Gael's desire to solve this housing crisis and in particular the issue of homelessness," a source said.

Irish Independent

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