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Fine Gael TD and junior minister for finance, Simon Harris

This morning’s Friday Gathering panel on the Today With Seán O’Rourke Show were: Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Simon Harris, Anti Austerity Alliance TD Ruth Coppinger, Mick Clifford, Special Correspondent with The Examiner and Political Correspondent with RTE, Katie Hannon.

During their discussion, the matter of homeless and social housing was raised.

Mr Harris also talked about the economy…

Ruth Coppinger: “Just with regard to this funding of local authorities, let’s just be absolutely factual: 20 local authority homes were completed in the first quarter of 2015 and 117 housing association homes. If that continues…”

Sean O’Rourke: “Is that for the whole country?”

Coppinger: “Yes. There’s the department of environment figures. If that continues for the whole year, there’ll be less than 500, you know, social houses. In 1975, I lived in a council house with my family and there was 8,795 houses built by local authorities.”

Talk over each other

Simon Harris: “We’re not having a dispute over this. I’m basically making the point…”

Talk over each other

Coppinger: “No, but can I clarify, I said, Fianna Fáil did lower things but actually they built more in 2010 than you’re building now and this is meant to be an housing emergency. That’s just the facts.”

Harris: “Let’s be very clear about what I said. When you decide, as a Government, as the previous government did, to stop building social housing, to stop building social housing and to move into the rental market – that was a policy decision they made. When you decide for that to happen, the system grinds…please let me finish…the system grinds to a halt. The infrastructure that’s in place to build the houses grinds to a halt. You have to bring that back up. We have put investment in place that will allow that to happen but it won’t happen over night…”

Coppinger: “It’s not for building houses. It’s for modular homes and hotel accommodation.”

Harris: “You, you, you protesting about it, or sitting in show houses, isn’t going to solve the problem.”

Talk over each other

Coppinger: “Well, actually, it’s brought more attention which is move than you’ve ever done.”

Harris: “No what will solve the problem is actually coming up with ways of funding it and our economic policies mean we can…”

Coppinger: “Can I tell you how we could fund it? It’s actually quite simple.”

Harris: You don’t have a way of funding it.”

Coppinger: “Ok, I’ll give you two examples of where it could be funded.”

Harris: “Sure”

Coppinger: “Nama has €3billion on hand now, for development. I believe it’s going to go into the Docklands or whatever. That €3billion could be set aside for social and affordable houses. It also sold Dundrum Shopping Centre and a number of shopping centres and it got €1.8billion, that could also go towards it. We could argue about how much it costs to build a house but if you brought in emergency legislation, planning legislation, to fastrack this, which could be done if you had a Government that cared..”

Harris: “We do care.”

Coppinger: “You could quickly acquire land, Nama has a third of development land in Dublin. And, for example, modular homes which I understand people might want because hotel lives are so bad, aren’t that cheap and they’re really not that quick either because you’ll still have the whole planning issue. You could actually, no, but you could refurbish some of the hotels, give people cooking facilities and located them to where their kids are. I’ve talked to homeless people about it…”

Harris: “And I’ve talked to homeless people as well.”

Coppinger: “And, sorry, there is also the Strategic Investment Fund – there’s €4billion…”

Harris: “And as you know, and as you probably heard from Nama, at the Public Accounts Committee, there is a significant number of homes that have been offered to local authorities. Some have been, a significant number, over 4,000, have been turned down. That’s not a criticism of local authorities but of the 6,000 houses offered, the local authorities turned down over 4,000.”

Coppinger: “That figure is being cited by the Government but actually…”

Harris: “It’s not being cited, it’s a statement of fact.”

Coppinger: “It’s not a lot to offer though…”

Harris: “It’s a statement of fact.”

Coppinger: “Over 8 years, if you boil it down, that’s not a lot of housing.”


Michael Clifford: “There’s a case, the Government, definitely, they righted a listing economy, there’s no question about that, the economy is in much better shape than it was four years ago. You can argue about how fair it was, absolutely, you can argue about and the fact that the benefits coming through are not being felt. However, outside, following the programme, laid down by the Troika and Fianna Fáil, in relation to numerous social issues, the Government’s been an abject failure. They put all their energies into the economy, as they saw it and a number of social issues – we saw this the minute the Troika left town – they started being hit by various issues straight away.”

Harris: “Yeah but I have to come back on this point because there is an attempt, and I think a view held that you can decouple economy from society. It’s very easy for any politician or commentator to list all societal issues, of which there are many, you can’t fund them, they’re only aspirational and cheap talk unless you actually have a functioning economy. What we now have is what we didn’t have when we came to office in 2011: is an economy that can begin to fund those services. But only if we secure the recovery, only if we get more people back to work and only if we make the right decisions.”

Listen back in full here

Previously: Who Wants To Live In An Economy?


“There is an intimidatory element attached to patrons using premises such as these and no resident should be subjected to living in fear of this situation occurring”.

Simon Harris objecting to a Simon Community homeless shelter in his Wicklow constituency in 2013.

Good times.

TD rejects Wicklow homeless shelter bid (Colin Coyle, Sunday Times April 7, 2013)

Leah Farrell/

68 thoughts on “Simon Says

  1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

    He lived in a COUNCIL HOUSE???
    That’s disgusting. I must gather a braying mob.

          1. Mani

            Given you normally operate at about 35% of the average person, you’re in negative figures now.

          2. cluster

            Mani, c’mon

            97% of 35% is about 34%, rather than ‘negative numbers’.

            So Andyourpoint… is operating at 34% of an average person today creating such unintentionally appropriate & ‘hilarious’ malaproprisms as ‘West Crok’.

  2. Nessy

    “But only if we secure the recovery, only if we get more people back to work and only if we make the right decisions.”

    Jobsbrige, is that the right decision? It greatly massages the unemployment figures. It isn’t putting people back to work, paid meaningful work. It’s enslaving them into a system that pays as little or as much as €1 an hour. No fully functioning or stable economy allows its workforce to work for little or nothing whilst kicking them out on the street due to rising rents and lack of affordable housing

    That Harris fella .. mumble mumble mumble… Bottomhole

  3. paul m

    Harris: “ It’s very easy money for any politician to list all money issues, of which there are money, you can’t fund money, they’re only money and money unless you actually have a functioning money. What we now have is money we didn’t money when we came to money in 2011: an economoney that can begin to show me the money. But money if we secure the money, only if we get more money back to work and only if we make the right money.”

  4. Robby Cook

    Enough with the divide & conquer electioneering about getting people ‘back to work’….Back to work what??

    Getting people of the social and back to work, to work a min pay job means many will still not be able to afford a 1 bed apt for 1300/1400 e per month.

    Its John, who gets the Luas to his IT job every day day & pays out half his salary on rent/mortgage V’s John, who is stuck on the dole with an offer of a min pay job which will mean he may lose any rent allowance he might receive & in turn may end up homeless.

    Nama was one of those setups your gut told you was BS from the start, reading articles over the years on who and where the management, board members etc..were plucked from is laughable. Why did the councils refuse Nama housing offers? Were they deliberately offered unsuitable houses, or were members tasked with making the decision to accept these houses brown enveloped?

    1. Mr. T.

      They offered useless houses in the middle of nowhere so that they would be declined and therefore put on the record to beat councils over the head with.

      1. scottser

        i know for a fact that the ones offered in my area failed on multiple standards including fire safety, flood risk and insufficient sewer drainage. the council would have been taking over a liability and nothing more.

  5. Christopher

    Horrible, horrible, horrible politician and person. I think I could probably swallow the inevitable return of FF-lite if this guy lost his seat (although they would put him in the Seanad anyway).

    1. Steve

      Yeah and look how woeful that turned out for them at election.

      Keep up the good work FG and labour.

      The only thing coppinger offers is protest and hot air. And the ability to help get her constituents arrested. Check out the AAA website….not a single policy set out.

      1. Dόn Pídgéόní

        The Tories only won because there was no alternative. Not much of an election campaign.

          1. Dόn Pídgéόní

            And? I live in the UK, followed the campaigns closely and voted in the last election. There was no effective opposition campaign from Labour and in reality, the Conservatives were just as shocked that they won, despite all their smugness at the party conference. They didn’t even win by that much.

          2. Steve

            And hopefully the irish electorate (of which the BS commentariat in a tiny tiny tiny percentage) come to that realisation also.

          3. Dόn Pídgéόní

            You know have to pass a quiz on Churchill before they let you in? Unfortunately, I got it confused with the dog in the insurance ads but I’m the right kind of immigrant (not too brown, English is my first language) so they let me in.

    1. Neilo

      Agreed. Jaysus, Louis Copeland or Maurice Abrahams will knock you up a su misura whistle for bugger all.

  6. FK

    May Simon Harris get an itch where his hands can’t reach. I hate that man so much! He’s one of my local TDs. When the canvassing starts and if he knocks on my door, am I allowed knee him in the nadgers?

          1. Neilo

            Ignore that comment – formatting nightmare. I agree that Coppinger is right attractive and Harris could make Savile Row look like Unique.

          1. Steve

            Oh all the AAA lads are getting very defensive now.

            I was going for more of the “mid cut horribly died blond hair , combed over to the right, sitting on a top of moany head which has a face that constantly looks like it got smacked with a fish”. But if you’re into that sort of thing.

          2. Dόn Pídgéόní

            The AAA gave me a great quote on my car insurance. Better than that dog.

            But Steve, I can only imagine that your chiseled Adonis-like looks match your astounding intellect and ability to c&p links from Wikipedia.

          3. Steve

            Ah no I apologise , personal insults aren’t my thing. I don’t get into that sort of crap on BS for politicians of any hue. But these type of “bodger-bolded” articles always bring the best out in personal insults for government party TDs from commenters. So I thought a bit of fire meets fire would be appropriate but that was wrong of me – Apologies.

    1. Neilo

      Hi Steve, I’m the polar opposite of left-leaning: I think all our mainstream political parties are Peronist nightmares and the Trots of PBP/AAA/SWP bring me out in a cold sweat. Good to meet ya!

  7. Fergus the magic postman

    Represents his party very accurately.

    Transparently not fit for purpose, at best.

      1. Fergus the magic postman

        A lot of uninformed, and easily fooled people will fall for all the FG pre election BS. You’ll be surprised by the sheer amount of the electorate who aren’t so gullible though. Your Uncle Enda might get a fright.

          1. Fergus the magic postman

            Nope. Said it before here. I don’t do party loyalty or blind allegiance. You do though, it seems.

  8. ABM's Bloodied Underwear

    Harris is an empty suit who can regurgitate press releases ad nauseam, with the kind of face you’d break your hand on before you ever tired of punching it.

  9. Lordblessusandsaveus

    Fine Gael have utter contempt for anyone who isn’t a large farmer or an urban professional.

    What they don’t seem to realise is that there is a huge middle class professional move away from them due to their sneering contempt and divisive policies.

    Not all middle class people want their country run by right wing sociopaths.

    1. Steve

      The polls would seem to suggest that you are incorrect on that one.

      But come on your guilty conscience may move you to vote AAA/PBP or whatever the f@&k they are calling themselves now , but deep down you long for a cold hearted FG Taoiseach to lower taxes, brutalise criminals and rule you like a king!!!!

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