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Taoiseach tackled in the Dáil over teachers leaving the capital due to soaring house prices

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin was tackled in the Dáil on the issue (Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin)

Taoiseach Micheál Martin was tackled in the Dáil on the issue (Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin)

Taoiseach Micheál Martin was tackled in the Dáil on the issue (Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin)

The Taoiseach has acknowledged that the Government needs to build more houses as he was attacked in the Dáil over the exodus of teachers from Dublin due to soaring accommodation and fuel costs.

He was answering Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, who said teaching unions were expressing concerns about teachers “voting with their feet” because they cannot afford to live in the capital.

“One school in Stillorgan, recently wrote to parents advising them that six of their teachers were relocating to outside Dublin. The teacher unions are alarmed - they say that difficulties regarding teacher supply are made worse by the fact that teachers cannot set up home in the city.

“Teachers who commute to Dublin (from outside) are now considering working elsewhere because of the soaring cost of fuel,” she said.

Schools are worried because they are struggling to get teachers in important subjects like maths and science, and many are forced to consider asking unqualified teachers to teach Irish, she said.

“The situation has gotten so bad that some schools may have to consider dropping option subjects. So we now face the prospect of another serious problem that is rooted in the housing crisis.”

The Taoiseach agreed it was a housing issue, but said progress was being made. Government housing policy is proving successful, he said, with an all-time record of 30,000 commencements in the year to May.

The Government had produced comprehensive schemes – with Opposition housing policy lacking “depth, breadth or detail to deal.” he continued.

“We simply need to build more houses, more apartments across the board. The target is to get to 33,000-35,000 homes per annum,” Mr Martin added.

This year was on target for the completion of about 24,600 new homes, the Taoiseach said.

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Some 22,000 homes were completed in the year to March, “the highest level of home completions in any 12-month period,” he said.

“Progress is being made,” the Taoiseach said. “There were 43,000 planning permissions granted in 2021. That's a six-fold increase on 2014, and the highest level since 2007.

"There were over 30,000 new homes commenced in the year to May 2022. That's the highest number since records have started.”

In EU rankings, Ireland had gone from the third-lowest completions per capita in 2013 to the fifth-highest in 2020, he said. “Progress is being made, but it's not enough to deal with the huge demand that is out there. We're looking at every possible avenue to increase housing supply and to build up the capacity of the industry.”

Ms McDonald said the President had described the present crisis as a disaster. “I believe he gave voice to the hard realities faced by those desperately struggling to put an affordable roof over their heads.

“Teachers are leaving and seeking employment in other parts of the country due to extortionate rent and soaring house prices. Schools are finding it very difficult to recruit replacements. If left unchecked, it will have major knock-on effects. It affects the ability of schools to deliver, which in turn impact on the education of our children.

“It ripples through everything. By the time a teacher pays the rent or the mortgage, a huge chunk of their wage is gone.

“Life in this city has literally become unaffordable. We can see that teachers are left in an impossible situation, and that is why they are now voting with their feet.”

 


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