Monday 21 October 2019

Sinn Féin accused of starting 'class war' over 'posh boys and girls' jibe aimed at Fine Gael

“The reality is those of you on the government benches will never have to struggle,” Pearse Doherty told the Tanáiste in the Dáil

Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney in the Dail (PA)
Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney in the Dail (PA)
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

SINN Féin has been accused of trying to open up a “class war” after the party’s finance spokesman claimed “posh boys and girls” were devising the Government’s housing policy.

Pearse Doherty said Fine Gael TDs don’t understand the struggle facing people who are trying to rent or buy a home.

“The reality is those of you on the government benches will never have to struggle,” he said.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney defended his party’s efforts to solve the crisis, saying: “When you get into the space of name calling and try to get into some sort of class war debate, than I think quiet frankly that’s proof that you are losing the argument.”

He pointed to CSO figures released today which show that the number of homes built in the first quarter of this year rose by 23.3pc.

There were 4,275 new dwellings finished in the first three months of the year, compared with 3,470 completions the same time last year.

Mr Coveney said the CSO figures “don’t lie” but admitted “we probably need to be building 35,000 units per year”.

He insisted the Government was investing in new housing and had introduced legislation that will help the rental sector.

The Tánaiste said “people who paint a picture here of a government that isn’t listening or plugged in don’t understand what we’re doing”.

Thousands of people are expected to take part in a ‘Raise The Roof’ protest over the housing crisis this weekend.

Mr Coveney said the core of the Government’s strategy is to “dramatically increase supply of all kind of housing”.

“The largest political party in the country speaks to all types of people,” he said. “We’re not in the business of cheap headlines or short-term fixes that will cost in the long-term.”

Mr Doherty said the Government is “out of touch” and their targets are inadequate.

He called for a rent freeze to be implemented for three years.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett told the Dáil that the Government was “stealing the future from young working people” who can never hope pay extortionate rents or get a mortgage.

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