Sunday 8 December 2019

Rebuilding Ireland 'is delivering' claims Taoiseach as rivals say housing crisis is 'grimmer than ever'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Niall Carson/PA)
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Niall Carson/PA)
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on a visit to Kilkenny (Niall Carson/PA)
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has defended the government's record on housing ahead of a vote of no confidence in minister Eoghan Muprhy tonight.

Mr Varadkar said the housing crisis is "very real" but insisted progress is being made with the government's Rebuilding Ireland plan.

It came after Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald claimed in the Dáil that that the housing situation is "grimmer than ever" and "business as usual will not suffice".

She said people want "radical solutions" and argued that housing minister Mr Murphy doesn't have them.

Mary Lou McDonald. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA
Mary Lou McDonald. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA

Ms McDonald asked Mr Varadkar: "do you accept that the minister for housing Eoghan Murphy is simply not up to the job and must go?"

Mr Varadkar said he doesn't accept that and said the Dáil will have the opportunity to make that decision on behalf of the Irish people tonight.

Ms McDonald said there are homeless children who will "wait for Santa Claus in B&Bs and hotels", people are living in their parents' box rooms and "an entire generation of our people have no real hope that they’ll ever own their own home".

She said there is "human misery" and maintained that the government's housing policy has failed and there needs to be a change of minister.

Mr Varadkar said: "The housing crisis is very real and affects many of our citizens and constituents and people... whether it’s high rents or unaffordable rents in some cases; whether it’s a struggle to procure a mortgage and raise a deposit to buy your own home; or whether it’s the sharpest end of the housing crisis which is of course rough sleeping and family homelessness."

He said the government is three and a half years into the five-year Rebuilding Ireland plan and outlined "examples of how it is delivering".

He said in 2015, the year before the plan there were only 7,000 new homes built and this year it will be more than 20,000 - "roughly a trebling of housing supply".

Mr Varadkar said house prices were rising by between 7pc and 8pc-a-year but this has now levelled off.

The Taoiseach also told the Dáil that the social housing stock was only being increased by 6,000 homes-a-year, now it's 10,000.

He said the latest homeless figures, which are to be released today, will show the numbers still continue to rise.

But he said: "we’ll see a fall in child homelessness, a fall in family homelessness, and numbers of people rough sleeping at its lowest level in many years."

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