Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Ard Fheis 2004 - Morgan - Government blind to housing crisis

28 February, 2004


Sinn Féin TD Arthur Morgan Moving motion 93 on housing said 'There are those who refute the fact there is a housing crisis in the 26 counties, despite 48,000 families on housing waiting lists, and aprox 6,000 homeless people in the State. The reality which every Sinn Féin representative encounters on a daily basis is vastly different.

Housing is one of the most fundamental necessities in enabling people to live their lives with dignity. A lack of adequate housing and homelessness are inextricably connected to increased levels of mental illness, unemployment and marginalisation. This is why housing is a priority for Sinn Féin and will remain so until everyone on this island has access to adequate, affordable and appropriate housing.

There are those who refute the fact there is a housing crisis in the 26 counties, despite 48,000 families on housing waiting lists, and aprox 6,000 homeless people in the State.

Prominent among those currently claiming that there is no housing crisis, is the 26 County Minister for Housing, Noel Ahern.

The Minister has made astonishing suggestions over the last year claiming that there is only a tiny number of people sleeping rough on Dublin's streets despite the testimony to the contrary from those providing services to the homeless; he has argued that people living in emergency B&B accommodation and sleeping on the floor of relatives houses are not really homeless!

He has suggested that those seeking disabled persons housing grants are often involved in making false and exaggerated claims; he has argued that houses in this state are more affordable than they were 5 or 10 year ago; he has disputed the very fact that there is a housing crisis. And he's the Minister for housing!

The reality which every Sinn Féin representative encounters on a daily basis is vastly different.

The reality is that at a time of lengthy social housing waiting lists, some councils such as Dublin City Council, are indicating their intention to withdraw from the provision of housing altogether; the reality is that many young couples are dangerously over-borrowing in order to buy over-priced houses; the reality is that house prices have continued to rise despite government claims that prices are beginning to fall; the reality is that many people in the private rented sector pay over 50% of their wages to landlords because the Government has failed to tackle rack-renting landlords; the reality is that there is a growing homelessness crisis accentuated by the restrictions introduced on housing support measures such as rent allowance; the reality is that traveller accommodation strategies have yet to be implemented

I move motion 93 and call on all delegates to support the policies outlined therein which seek to address the most critical aspects of the housing crisis.

The housing needs of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable must be given priority.

That is why this motion calls for a target for the elimination 70% of local authority housing waiting lists within 2 years and the placing of homeless strategies on a statutory basis to ensure that housing targets for the homeless are delivered as part of main stream housing strategies. This motion also seeks to protect the rights of those experiencing housing disadvantage by opposing any attempt to reduce the state's role in the provision of social housing, by way of local authority seeking to abandon their responsibilities in this matter.

By June next, Sinn Fein will have many more County and Borough Councillors in place and through these new "Agents for Change", Sinn Fein must mount a stronger, more focussed campaign than ever before in defence of those people in need of housing.

I know we can count on you to do this important work.

Connect with Sinn Féin