Thursday 24 May 2018

FF hits out over affordable house 'disgrace' ahead of Dáil showdown

Fianna Fáil Housing spokesman Darragh O'Brien. Photo: Damien Eagers
Fianna Fáil Housing spokesman Darragh O'Brien. Photo: Damien Eagers
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Fianna Fáil has claimed the Government hasn't delivered any affordable homes since 2011, branding the situation an "absolute disgrace".

Housing spokesman Darragh O'Brien made the remarks ahead of a Dáil debate tonight on a Fianna Fáil motion on the issue, setting the stage for a clash with Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy.

The Fine Gael minister is expected to hit back with a robust response criticising Fianna Fáil over the economic crash and defending the Government's record on the delivery of affordable homes.

Fianna Fáil is calling for funding for a State-led affordable housing scheme to be announced in the Budget. It wants "clear targets" in each county for the provision of such housing.

Mr O'Brien said house prices in urban areas, particularly in the capital, have seen double-digit growth in recent years.

"Many working people have no chance of owning a home at the moment," he said.

"Since 2011 not one affordable house has been built and I personally believe that's an absolute disgrace."

He said Fianna Fáil is seeking cross-party support and if the Dáil speaks with one voice "it may wake the Government up out of their slumber on affordable and social housing".

The party wants funding earmarked in 2019 for an affordable housing scheme and proposes that initial State investment would be complemented by off-balance sheet funding mechanisms.

Mr O'Brien said his party isn't specifying the sum it's seeking at this time as this will be a matter for upcoming Budget negotiations. The motion includes a reminder that the setting up of an affordable housing scheme is included in the confidence and supply deal Fianna Fáil agreed with Fine Gael.

Mr O'Brien denied the motion was part of a strategy to build a case against the Government ahead of an election. He said party leader Micheál Martin has said the next Budget must be a "housing Budget" and the motion is reiterating that point.

Last night, a Government spokesman said Mr Murphy sought Cabinet approval for a counter-motion in response to Fianna Fáil. It's understood that Mr Murphy will attack Fianna Fáil for bringing about the circumstances that saw the collapse of the construction industry and the building of very few homes of any type in the years immediately after Fine Gael took office in 2011.

Mr Murphy is expected to insist affordable homes are being built; the building of social housing has been ramped up; and the provision of such housing is a priority for the Government.

Irish Independent

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