Sunday 18 August 2019

'Are you just a baby?' asks Burton in tetchy housing debate

Joan Burton
Joan Burton

Niall O'Connor and John Brennan

Tánaiste Joan Burton has been accused of refusing to take responsibility for high mortgage rates, the housing crisis and soaring rents.

In bad-tempered exchanges in the Dáil, Ms Burton first told Fianna Fáil's Barry Cowen to listen, shut up and lay off the histrionics - before asking his front bench if they were babies and needed music and an afternoon nap.

The Tánaiste had been asked to explain the Government attempts to pressure banks to reduce mortgage rates, some of which are 2pc higher than the European average.

And she was later challenged by Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald over the 9.3pc increase in rents last year pushing the average monthly bill in Dublin to €1,400.

But Ms Burton told Mr Cowen: "Are you just a baby or acting like a baby?"

She added that Fianna Fáil's "histrionics" would "fill the Abbey Theatre" on a nightly basis.

"If you want an answer then you just have to shut up for a while and listen," Ms Burton continued.

Mr Cowen hit back several times, claiming that Ms Burton has "gone cuckoo ... you're in la-la land".

The row came as Minister for Environment Alan Kelly opened a new apartment block which will house 13 families in state-of-the-art social housing in Drumcondra.

He insisted that the cause of the current housing crisis is simply down to "supply and demand" issues.

Earlier this week Mr Kelly was confronted with a new report showing rents have risen at the fastest rate since the economic crash - but denied it was a result of a Government squabble over how to tackle the crisis.


He added that the Government had introduced the new two-year rent freeze measures to prevent people "falling out of the rental market".

The 13 new homes at Calderwood Court were provided by Co-Operative Housing Ireland (formerly NABCO) under a partnership agreement with Nama.

The apartments at Calderwood were partially finished units before Nama provided €600,000 to complete and fit them out for social housing.

Among those being housed were Kritee Devi Kodai Somrah (31) and her son Bhojesh (1).

Originally from Mauritius, she has lived here for seven years and described her family as "very happy and very lucky".

Also living in the new apartments were pensioners Mr Michael McMahon (70) and his wife Christine (69). They previously lived in Glasnevin but were priced out of their rented accommodation by spiralling prices.

"The rent was very expensive - €1,000 a month - and we're only pensioners," Mr McMahon said.

The minister also announced that Co-operative Housing Ireland is set to provide a further 39 houses in nearby Richmond Park, in Drumcondra.

Irish Independent

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