Saturday 21 September 2019

Housing Minister backtracks on controversial on-air comments about co-living spaces

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy
Hugh O'Connell

Hugh O'Connell

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has admitted his analogy comparing co-living to staying in a "very trendy" boutique hotel was "not a good one".

Mr Murphy has this afternoon sought to clarify remarks he made on Newstalk this morning in which he suggested that controversial co-living spaces were like a 'very trendy boutique hotel'.

Mr Murphy said in a statement: "I was asked this morning were CoLiving spaces like prisons & based on what I have seen in other cities they are not. My analogy in response wasn’t a good one. But Coliving elicits outrage in some because they wrongly assume it’s what we propose as a response to families in crisis. It is not.

"Our response to the housing crisis is to build over 20,000 new homes - houses and apartments - this year. None of them co-living spaces. Our response next year is to build even more new homes. Homes are the answer for the vast vast majority. CoLiving is targeted at approximately 1% of renters."

Earlier on air, the Housing Minister suggested that controversial co-living spaces are like a 'very trendy boutique hotel'.

"It’s something that I’d seen abroad in other cities where you have your own private room, ensuite, but you also then have shared community spaces, a gym, a movie room, a games room, potentially, a kitchen, a living room," he said.

When Newstalk presenter Kieran Cuddihy put it to the Fine Gael minister that he was describing the conditions of a prison, Mr Murphy insisted: "No, not at all like a prison, I mean if you’ve been in one of these places it’s not at all, it’s more like a very trendy, kind of, boutique hotel-type place, right."

Mr Murphy said that when he left student accommodation and moved into his first flat he shared with two girls who he didn’t know.

He had a small room of his own, while the three of them shared a bathroom and a small kitchen but had no living room.

"I would have much preferred my own ensuite bedroom and to have the chance to meet other people to get to know them because I was new to that country," he said.

Murphy insisted that co-living would account for fewer than one per cent of new accommodation this year. "It’s an option for some, but only a very few people," he said.

An Bord Pleanála last month rejected an application for Dublin’s first major co-living development. Bartra Capital proposed a development with 222 co-living units and 150 apartments in Tallaght. But the planning board said the scheme would  "fail to provide an acceptable living environment for future residents of the development".

Mr Murphy’s latest comments were the subject of criticism from within his own party today.

One Fine Gael told Independent.ie: "You’ll be able to fit our parliamentary party in one of these 'trendy boutique hotel rooms' if Murphy keeps this up."

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