Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has slammed the government’s proposal to encourage banks to lend more only to buyers of new houses.
Describing it as “an extract from the election stunts section of the Fianna Fáil ‘Handbook of Strokes and other Scams’, Mr Adams said it would do nothing to tackle the housing crisis and that there were also well founded concerns it will lead to inflated house prices and another disastrous property bubble.
Speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil, the Sinn Féin Leader said:
“This state is in the midst of a major housing crisis which is causing untold misery to thousands of citizens including children. Within sight of the Dáil, men and women, some young, others not so young are sleeping rough on the streets.
“Meanwhile, thousands of families are living in cramped, overcrowded conditions with parents and grandparents because they cannot get a home of their own.
“Mortgage distress is a major social issue. The number of families in mortgage arrears is now 136,564.”
Addressing the Taoiseach directly, Mr Adams said:
“Your pre-election proposal today is aimed at encouraging banks to lend more only to buyers of new houses. It reads like an extract from the election stunts section of the Fianna Fáil handbook of governance.
“There are also well founded concerns that your proposal will lead to inflated house prices and another disastrous property bubble.
“Housing lists in all local authorities are lengthening and the bill for emergency accommodation is spiraling. There is a ten-fold increase since 2012 in spending by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive on emergency accommodation.
“The Peter McVerry Trust has dealt with 3,600 homeless cases, mostly young men, in the last year alone. The number of families losing their homes has more than doubled according to Focus Ireland. Despite this, spending on housing in Dublin City is to be reduced by €53 million.
“A radical change in Government policy is needed, with Councils properly funded to build social housing.
“Sinn Féin’s Housing Spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has already suggested a plan for investment in social housing that would see the construction of 7,500 new homes on top of current targets. There is €1 billion of unused money in the Strategic Investment Fund. By using this money you could provide these homes and stimulate the construction industry.”
Gerry Adams again asked the Taoiseach to commit to taking this practical measure as part of a package of initiatives to tackle the housing crisis, including the introduction of a right to housing, the protection of families from eviction and rent controls.