Sunday 25 February 2018

Taoiseach says local councils added to housing crisis – as new €5.5bn housing plan is launched

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John Downing

John Downing

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said local councils have contributed to the country’s housing problems.

Mr Kenny was speaking in the Dáil just after the formal launch of a new €5.5bn housing and homelessness plan which aims to more than double the numbers of houses being built each year to 25,000 and provide 47,000 social housing units by 2021 by a mix of new builds, and by leasing and buying existing houses.

 “I think it is important to note that local authorities, in the past number of years, have not measured up to being able to build social housing to the extent it was needed,’’ Mr Kenny in response to opposition criticisms of his housing record since 2011.

The Taoiseach said Housing Minister Simon Coveney was now giving the local authorities a chance to take advantage of housing funds. He also said An Bord Pleanála would get more resources to deal with planning applications more quickly.

Mr Kenny said it was a case now of seeing whether local authorities could measure up to the challenges they had been given. He said they were being given the necessary resources.

Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, said the question was very much open about whether the local authorities could be blamed for the mess of the past five years and the inability to get to grips with the homeless problem.

“I can remember being here at Leaders’ Questions when you guys denied there was a problem for a long time.’’  He said it was not fair to blame the local authorities entirely.

Given the emergency, it was a scandal there was any empty house, he added.

AAA-PBP TD Richard Boyd Barrett described the Government’s plans as “a mirage and false dawn’’.

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