'Navel-gazing' FG will not hit homes target, Coalition told
Fine Gael has been accused of "navel-gazing" about its party leadership while no progress is being made on housing supply and the spiralling costs of the planned children's hospital.
Fianna Fáil's Barry Cowen said after the distraction of talks about the Taoiseach's leadership, it was time to face the grim reality that very little progress was being made in implementing the plans to tackle housing and homelessness.
Mr Cowen said that Focus Ireland had pointed out that last month a child became homeless every five hours. He disputed the Taoiseach's assertion on Tuesday that 8,500 housing units were currently under construction.
The Fianna Fáil TD said in reality only 1,828 units were actually being built - the rest were at various stages of planning and approval. He predicted that the housing plan targets would not be met.
"We are obliged in this House to seek to remove whatever obstacles that are preventing the implementation of any plans," Mr Cowen told the Dáil.
"You are obsessed with announcements in the hope that you will bamboozle people," Mr Cowen added.
Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald accused Fine Gael of "navel-gazing" about the party leadership. She said that in the meantime the planned children's hospital costs had jumped from €404m in 2012 to more than €1bn.
"As it stands, Ireland's National Children's Hospital - if it is ever built - will be the most expensive hospital anywhere in the world," Ms McDonald said.
Replying for the Government, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald said it had managed to cut unemployment from a high of over 15.5pc to 6.8pc, something Fianna Fáil had previously said could not be done.
Ms Fitzgerald said the housing budget had been increased by more than any other budget sector and the plans would be implemented. The Government was providing more money and more detailed work with local authorities.
Ms Fitzgerald later said the allocation of €32m to deal with repair and leasing of housing would be announced and local authorities would work to ensure that more properties were available for people seeking housing.
She said the four Dublin local authorities had confirmed the target would be met to ensure children and families would not be using hotels in the city. There was a targeted social plan, but it would take some time, Ms Fitzgerald said.
On the national children's hospital, Ms Fitzgerald said that the project had finally been agreed and would go ahead.