Government in empty homes flip-flop
The Government has admitted the true number of houses lying empty around the country is closer to 300,000 - up to three times more than initially claimed.
But it could not fully explain why it said there were between 100,000 and 140,000 vacant houses - a statement later rubbished by academics and consultants.
A Department of Environment official explained their original estimate, claiming it was actually the "overhang of the oversupply" and conceded the real scale of uninhabited properties - including so-called 'ghost estates' - was much larger.
The spokesman said the 100,000 to 140,000 figure "was not precise" and referred to the number of empty houses over and above normal levels, but he could not explain how it was arrived it.
The National Institute of Regional and Spatial Analysis, which advises the Government, revealed earlier this week it had worked out that 302,625 houses lie empty in the wake of the property crash. The figure is equivalent to half of all homes in Dublin and could be enough to meet demand for years to come, it claimed.
Terence Flanagan, Fine Gael's housing spokesman, said he was glad some truth had emerged about the number of vacant homes in Ireland.
"For months now, the Construction Industry Federation has been distorting the truth and claiming that there are only 40,000 vacant homes," he said.
"It has been doing this in an attempt to inform the public that a minimum of 10,000 new homes must be built this year to cater for demand.
"This also brings a myth to the assertion that house prices have hit rock bottom as there is an enormous oversupply of homes available in the Irish property market.
"All council planning departments must now get real and refuse planning applications for housing in areas where there is oversupply."