Political will to tackle housing crisis cannot exist under Noonan - Doherty
Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said the political will within government to use NAMA to help tackle the housing and homelessness crisis does not exist and will not exist as long as Michael Noonan is Minister for Finance.
Deputy Doherty said a letter he has received under a FOI request shows the Minister told NAMA as late as September 2015 that redemption of debt should take precedence over NAMA’s contribution to tackling the housing crisis in any future plans.
The Donegal TD also cited the blocking of legislation he had drafted that would have given NAMA a greater mandate in providing housing as an example of the lack of political will to use NAMA to help build houses for families.
Deputy Doherty said:
“The occupation of Apollo House by activists has re-focussed public attention on the role of NAMA in tackling the housing crisis. The activists’ main point, that NAMA is owned by the people and should be used to provide housing, is one I share and believe most Irish people would share.
“However, the political will does not exist as is obvious from the record of the meeting of September 2015 between Minister Noonan and NAMA where the minister made it clear that in his view the redemption of Nama debt must come before any NAMA role in providing housing.
“I drafted legislation that would have greatly empowered NAMA to play a fuller role in tackling the housing crisis and would force the Minister to direct NAMA to carry out a full audit of all its assets with a view to fulfilling this role.
“Unfortunately, after much discussion, the Ceann Comhairle’s office refused to allow this Bill to be tabled because of an interpretation, that I contest, by officials of a constitutional provision.
“I will bring this issue back to the Dáil as soon it returns in the hope of winning political support for a greater role for NAMA in tackling our housing and homelessness crisis.
“NAMA is owned by the people and should be fully used to help build houses for our people.
“This is a matter of priorities and unfortunately it appears Minister Noonan is still wedded to the ‘bondholders first’ mentality.”