Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has condemned the decision to remove the Junior Minister for Housing from the Cabinet and described it as evidence that the government have no real interest in tackling the ongoing social housing crisis.
He made his comments following the announcement by Taoiseach Enda Kenny that the Housing portfolio would no longer retain the status of a ‘Super’ Junior Ministry with a seat at cabinet.
Deputy Ellis continued;
“Housing needs to be a major priority for government. In the run up to the local and European elections the government made much of its supposed efforts to tackled social housing need and high rents but now it has shown this was all rhetoric. They have removed a voice for housing from the cabinet and demoted the responsibility for housing to the role of an ordinary Junior Minister it would seem.
“We have 90,000 households on the waiting lists of our local authorities for housing including 19,400 households in Dublin City alone. We have nearly half a billion euro being paid to landlords to house nearly 100,000 households through Rent Supplement and RAS. Now we have a new Housing Assistance Payment which will sweep housing need under the rug while not providing a single new home.
“Housing need is more severe and widespread than it has been since the foundation of the state. Homelessness is rising with Inner City Help for Homeless reporting 177 rough sleepers in Dublin last night. Emergency accommodation is full and councils are spending thousands each week on hotels rooms for homeless families.
“Housing is a priority for the people. It was a major issue in the local elections in which this government got a sound beating. The government must listen to the people and the experts on housing. They have done very little in three years and now they seem to be washing their hands of the issue. Housing deserves an advocate at the Cabinet table.”