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Government in denial about housing crisis - Morgan

16 November, 2005

Speaking during Statements on Housing in the Dáil this afternoon Sinn Féin spokesperson on the Environment and Local Government, Arthur Morgan TD, accused the Government of doing "absolutely nothing in nine years to tackle the housing crisis" and being in "denial" about the issue. Commenting on Minister Roche's contribution to the debate Deputy Morgan said he was "absolutely flabbergasted" and that he had never heard such "bland bluster" before.

Deputy Morgan said, "The Government has done absolutely nothing in nine years to tackle the housing crisis and it in denial about that crisis. Waiting lists have continued to increase, house prices have gone through the roof, local authorities are trying to get out of their responsibility in social housing provision, while landlords continue to flout registration requirements.

"The Government is in total denial. The Minister of State refused to accept that there is a crisis in housing. He has shown no sign whatsoever of being on top of his brief or trying to deal with this crisis. The Government has continually tried to downplay the level of difficulty faced by people trying to secure both social and private housing.

"They have also showed contempt by shelving, or binning, three significant reports that were recently published. It is no wonder the Minister's head is in the clouds when he is sitting on all of those reports.

"I want to examine some of the issues surrounding the housing crisis that the Minister refuses to accept. A total of 48,413 households are on the social housing waiting lists, many of whom are living in squalor.

"Consequently, they live in damp, draughty accommodation, their children suffer and often lack food, adequate clothing and, certainly, heat. In such an environment, what chances do they have in terms of education? Many of these people are also being ripped off by unscrupulous landlords. The Minister does not mention them -- he completely ignores them.

"It is unacceptable for the Minister to come into the House, smile at Members and give no commitments except for some bland nonsense. The Government has set no targets for the abolition of housing lists. Without targets or some kind of timeframe, how will the Minister deal with the problem? We have received no indication from him, which is an absolute scandal."

Deputy Morgan also pointed out that the 40% of people within the private sector who are in receipt of rent supplement should be housed in social housing and criticized the government for pursuing such short-term strategies which have wasted hundreds of millions of euros rather than develop a long-term housing strategy. ENDS

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