Friday 23 August 2019

Rent package will deal 'comprehensively' with issue of rent and supply - Alan Kelly

Environment Minister Alan Kelly
Environment Minister Alan Kelly

Caroline Crawford

HOUSING Minister Alan Kelly has said the rent package to be brought to Cabinet will deal "comprehensively" with the issue of rent and supply.

Mr Kelly would not be drawn on the substance of the measures but said he was "quite satisfied" the measures would deal fully with the housing crisis gripping the country. He said the measures which will go before Cabinet on Tuesday, would provide some form of certainty to people who are renting.

"I will have to discuss them at Cabinet level so I won't be going through them until then but certainly there will be a comprehensive list of measures in the whole area of rent which I believe will help vulnerable families who potentially could move into homelessness and also will help deal with the problems we have with escalating rents, particularly in large urban areas which are a real pressure issue.

"But on top of that we also have to look at the whole supply area and measures to increase supply in a very quick fashion which I think should be welcomed all round," he said.

The Minister once again dismissed claims that the Government parties had clashed over the proposals, insisting he had never had "one harsh word" with Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

"In fact I was with him last night for three hours in Limerick so I've never had one harsh word with Michael Noonan and vice versa. I think we actually have a very close relationship in cabinet, the two of us, but paper never refuses ink," he added.

The Labour Minister insisted he was happy with the proposed measures and had not been forced to row back on what he had hoped to achieve. He described the plans as comprehensive adding that not all aspects had been covered in the media.

He said he believed the measures would be widely welcomed adding they "have to be done and have to be done quickly".

He said he had never had to convince his cabinet colleagues about the urgency of the measures.

"Absolutely not, I think that is one thing that certainly isn't true. I think the issue of homelessness is my biggest priority, the issue of housing in totality is the biggest challenge I have in my department and we have put together the largest social housing programme.

"It does take a lag time for that housing programme to be put in place but we have a construction industry and a construction sector that simply isn't operating to the demand needed. We need to be building five times more houses in Dublin than we are building this year. We need to be building a lot more houses right across the country, including here in Galway.

"That needs stimulation, that needs activities to happen so I've put together a whole load of proposals working with my Government colleagues to ensure it happens," he added.

Mr Kelly said he was confident the measures would be legally viable and beyond constitutional challenge.

"I do everything in conjunction with the Attorney General so I'm very confident that any measures that will be brought forward are legally robust and I say that in the hometown of the Attorney General here in Kinvara," he added.

The Minister denied that the Government had been damaged by the ongoing controversy surrounding the homeless crisis.

"I think it has been a huge challenge. Many of the issues in relation to housing resulted because we have been a victim of our own success from an economic point of view," he added.

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