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Factcheck: Who was on the money and who was economical with the truth?

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Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar. Photo: PA Wire

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar. Photo: PA Wire

PA

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar. Photo: PA Wire

CLAIM

Rents are falling

Leo Varadkar claimed: "According to Daft.ie today, rents have fallen for the first time in eight years."

FACTCHECK

The latest report by property website Daft.ie has found that nationally average rents fell by 0.1pc in the last three months of 2019 - the first overall quarterly decline since 2012.

But the fall was driven by a 0.8pc decrease in rents outside the five cities. Within the cities, rents rose on average by 0.7pc over the same period. In Dublin, they rose slightly less - by 0.4pc.

VERDICT

Partly true. Fine Gael is correct to say that rents have fallen but the experience differs across the country and the figures confirm that there is still pressure on the rental market in the main urban areas.

CLAIM

Homeownership is at the lowest level since 1971

Micheál Martin claimed: "We have the lowest level of homeownership in this country since 1971."

He blamed the Fine Gael Government for this - but Leo Varadkar instantly hit back claiming the biggest fall occurred under Fianna Fáil governments.

FACTCHECK

Homeownership rates in Ireland have traditionally been above the EU average - but in recent decades the number of people with their own property has fallen. In 1991 homeownership stood at 80pc - but by 2016 it dropped to 67.6pc.

The number of owner-occupied households fell from 1,149,924 to 1,147,552 between 2011 and 2016 (when Fine Gael was in power).

VERDICT

Partly true. Fianna Fáil is correct to say that homeownership is at its lowest level in decades - but this trend had begun long before Fine Gael came to power.

Homeownership actually peaked at about 80.1pc in 1991.

CLAIM

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said a 60-bed modular unit is being installed in University Hospital Limerick, the most overcrowded hospital in the country with the worst trolley crisis.

FACTCHECK

The hospital announced this week the modular buildings were being delivered.

VERDICT

True. But the Taoiseach neglected to say they will not be operational until the end of the year.

CLAIM

20,000 people are homeless in Northern Ireland

Leo Varadkar sought to juxtapose Sinn Féin promises in this election with its record in Northern Ireland.

He argued there are 20,000 people homeless in the North while Mary Lou McDonald says she can solve the crisis in the Republic.

Ms McDonald disputed his figure, saying it needed to be factchecked.

FACTCHECK

Figures reported in January 2019 suggested there were nearly 20,000 households recorded as homeless in Northern Ireland.

The latest report from the Department of Communities in Northern Ireland states 18,202 households presented as homeless in 2018-19.

VERDICT

In the ballpark. It would be wrong to suggest that 20,000 people are homeless at one point in time - but the way the figures are officially recorded makes the figure quoted by Leo Varadkar in the ballpark - although he is rounding up heavily.

CLAIM

Leo Varadkar claims Sinn Féin doesn't support the Special Criminal Court and is soft on crime.

FACTCHECK

Before the last election, Sinn Féin said it would abolish the non-jury court which deals with paramilitary and gangland crime.

Its position has softened since then and the same pledge is not in its current manifesto.

Mary Lou McDonald did not directly answer questions on the issue. She said: "I accept we need mechanisms and special powers."

She also wants a High Court judge to do a review of various aspects of the justice system.

The party's justice spokesman Martin Kenny recently said the court was dated and not fit to deal with modern crime. He also suggested "a review".

VERDICT

True. Sinn Féin clearly has long-standing issues with the non-jury court. While its stance shifted a bit, it is still not happy with the court as it currently operates.

Irish Independent