‘This Hard-Left, Conspiratorial View’


The panel on last night’s Tonight with Vincent Browne

Last night.

On TV3’s Tonight with Vincent Browne, presented by Newstalk’s Sarah McInerney.

The panel included Fine Gael TD Colm Brophy, Labour TD Jan O’Sullivan, postdoctoral researcher at Maynooth University Dr Rory Hearne and Irish Independent columnist Colette Browne.

At the beginning of the show, Dr Hearne repeated his claim that the State is over reliant on the private sector to provide social and affordable housing.

It followed an interview Dr Hearne did on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke yesterday morning and an opinion article he wrote for yesterday’s The Irish Times, headlined Why Government response to housing crisis has failed.

Last night, Dr Hearne said:

“Last year, Rebuilding Ireland set out to build 2,000 new social housing units by local authorities, only 650 were built. We had 1,000 rapid units promised to be delivered for the families in hotels who are homeless. Only 150 are going to be built by the end of this year.”

“…They [The Government] are not willing, I think, to stand up to the property interests, the developer interests, the financial interests, the vulture funds. They don’t want the Government to provide a much greater amount of supply of affordable and social housing.

“I think, they’ve been bought over by this idea, they’ve been captured by this idea that you have to encourage the private sector to build. The private sector isn’t building…

The private market has shown it doesn’t work. The State has to provide housing but the Government seems to be ideologically captured by this, they don’t believe in social housing, they don’t want affordable housing, they seem to just want to follow that private market model. And I think that’s the reason why we’re in this crisis.

Following this…

Colm Brophy: “Well listen, I mean, a lot of what Rory said there was just either palpably ignorant of what the Government is actually doing, it’s either ideologically derived and I don’t say that with any pleasure but it really…”

Colette Browne: “What facts, what facts that Rory mentioned do you disagree with?

Brophy: “Sorry, can I just, listen, there’s one of me here now so I’ll, I’ll just, there is no question, it is completely wrong to say that the Government doesn’t want to provide social housing, that the Government doesn’t want to provide housing, that the Government is somehow involved, and I heard you earlier on, in a couple of media interviews where you nearly have this hard-left, conspiratorial view that, somehow or other, there is some divine right that everything should be done by the public sector and if you advocate any other way or approach to it, that you’re involved in some type of conspiracy with venture funds and banks and everything else like that.”

Hearne: “I never said that.”

Talk over each other

Brophy: “No, the fact, no but I’m saying you seem to be coming from this type of view, that the only solution is the one you look at and advocate. Now let’s look actually at what is happening and what is being done. This Government came in, Simon Coveney took on a ministry for housing, it was especially created to recognise the importance of the problem which was there. There’s a commitment for €5.3billion to be made available by this Government to provide social housing. Now that’s between now and 2021.”

“The thing people always want to overlook and they think, I just, I don’t know why people don’t get this: you can’t wave a magic wand and make houses appear…”

Sarah McInerney: “No, ok, ok but hold on, hold on, hold Colm, you’ve made a number of charges against Rory there, ideological charges there, etc. But let’s just stick with the figures for a second. Because Rory made a number of different points but one of the things he talked about was figures and that’s not factually incorrect or not factually incorrect, it’s just the figures as we know them and one of those figures is that there were 650 new social housing builds in 2016, instead of the 2,200 that were planned.”

Brophy: “But, again, it’s all…”

McInerney: “Now the Government told us they were going to happen, they didn’t happen. They told us they could wave that wand, that we would get those houses…”

Brophy: “No they didn’t…”

McInerney: “Well, we were told that they were getting 2,200 and we got 660, so what happened there?”

Brophy: “What the Government has said very clearly is that there’s a mixture, which certain people don’t like, I mean I was on the original Dail housing committee, so I’m familiar, I’ve heard all the hard-left arguments before of…”

McInerney: “Ok, forget ideology for a second…”

Brophy: “No, no…”

McInerney: “Because I’m just asking you about the facts. I’m asking you about the target that you set yourselves that you failed to reach. Why did you not reach it, is what I’m asking.”

Brophy: “If you actually look at it, and by the way, just to clarify another point, the money problem is not there, the [inaudible] is the supply problem…”

Watch back in full here

Previously: Whose Interests Are Dictating Our Housing Policy

‘They’re Loud And They’re Growing’


Free next Saturday, June 17?

Inner City Helping Homelessness

32 thoughts on “‘This Hard-Left, Conspiratorial View’

  1. Brother Barnabas

    I’m not convinced that the majority of FG TDs are ideologically driven at all. Take this Brophy fellow, for instance – clearly just an unthinking idiot grasping at half-recollected vague ideas he’s heard Coveney and others coming out with elsewhere. His only real function is to distract and frustrate.

  2. Nigel

    Well that certainly reassured me that the government are getting to grips with the housing problem.

  3. Cian

    I’m confused as to what the proposed solution is.
    1. The government takes some huge land-banks and builds 100s/1000s of houses. All houses are used for social housing.
    2. The government takes some huge land-banks and builds 100s/1000s of houses. Some of these are used for social housing but sells every-other-one at the going rates (can people buy-to-let or only to owner-occupier?).
    3. The government takes some small land-banks and builds 10s of houses. And uses some/all of these for social housing.

    If they do #1 then aren’t they repeating the mistakes of the 70s and (potentially) building ghettos?
    if they do #2 then aren’t they competing with the private sector builders and opening themselves up to monopoly claims?
    if they do #3 then you need an awful lot of “10s” to fill the social housing needs.

    They seem to have been concentrating on #3, but failing to get many built – I don’t know if its lack of trying, or planning permission being held up or what,

    1. Nialler

      A mix of social (rent assisted), affordable (those with jobs paying a mortgage over 30 years and have to occupy for 20 years before selling without a clawback) and private selling at open market prices. Government would set up a fund for the mortgages for affordable housing at a rate a percentage or two above the EU baseline interest rate, the profit from these affordable/private houses goes back to the fund so enabling more to avail of affordable housing schemes.

      Developers are sitting on land banks already as the value of them increase weekly, hence no building. A 10 acre landbank in south county Dublin today sold for €51,000 per acre, 5 x the expected value. So we’re heading down the rabbit hole again by the looks of it.

      I’m sure the above is full of holes and is not feasible but it’s an idea.

      1. Fact Checker

        Actually there are lots of 100% social housing developments on a reasonably large scale that have high levels of social cohesion and resident satisfaction.

        You tend to only hear about the bad examples in north Dublin and Limerick.

        Nonetheless received wisdom among policymakers is that big social housing developments are very bad (mmm-kay) and all they will build instead is micro-developments which simply aren’t on a scale to meet demand.

    2. Donal

      They should be doing #2 in my opinion.
      #3 is not working, the free market does not want to build the required houses for a variety of reasons and the government have chosen not to punish them for not doing so. It is a case of the common good trumping the market.
      #2 is basically the government competing with the free market, a semi-state company putting state-owned land to productive use. It doesn’t have to have any negative effect on building companies, these will be hired on a contractual basis to do the construction work, will make a profit if they are in any way efficient, will employ workers who will pay tax etc. It will have an effect on those currently hoarding land that is not being built on, the value of these landholdings will cease to increase as the basis for this increase in value (potential future worth based on potential future house prices) will be gone. This will mean that anyone who owns these sites will be forced to build or sell, no point holding on to an unproductive depreciating asset. This result is also positive for the common good as these sites get built on too, house prices stabilise as supply increases, employment in the construction sector increases, income tax receipts increase. The only losers are speculators and I have no sympathy for them, they can go speculate elsewhere

  4. curmudegon

    I’m almost glad I missed that night, I hate going to bed angry and frustrated. Let me just paraphrase Colm Brophy (FG) here and see if you can spot the fallacy: “I don’t know why people don’t get this: you can’t wave a magic wand and make [schools/roads/hospitals] appear…”

    1. realPolithicks

      They problem with this shower is that they are incapable of doing anything to make “[schools/roads/hospitals] appear”. They’ve been in power for six years and the problem has just gotten worse.

    2. Robert Hand

      Brophy is so full of bloated hot air . The pity is, he takes sooooo long to expel it. What a stinker!

  5. The Bottler

    As someone more erudite that I am stated…..”The jowls of privilige and entitlement are very evident”

  6. Percival

    The term “Hard-Left” is clearly now part of the Fine Gael brand guidelines. It’s being said more frequently and mostly by Leo Varadkar. Well if they consider any political ideology that is not of the right as being Hard Left, then they must accept the term “Hard-Right” to refer to Fine Gael.

    Fine Gael under Varadkar are HARD RIGHT and they are to be destroyed in every forum they appear.

    1. nellyb

      Varadkar is a glossy progressive mannequin in the window of shop ‘Ireland’. Gay, linked to success of same sex marriage referendum (according to some european news channels), superficially resembles Trudeau and Macron. But has no real success record in Irish politics and does not come across as independent thinker. And a proud misogynist too. All and all – still better than Trump.

  7. Insane Clown Poster

    He should’ve pulled Pat Rabbite out of his hat and said it was just something you say.

  8. Eoin

    It just goes to show you the contempt FG have for the general public when they send the likes of Brophy out to be their ‘friendly face’. Remember when that was Pascal Donaghue? Vincent Browne used to give him a terrible time. Well it all paid off for Pascal. So stick in there Colm, keep taking the lumps for the team and if you get stuck just keep repeating the last thing you said ad nauseum, that’ll endear you to the people.

  9. Diddy

    Why can’t FG admit that the private sector cannot possibly provide housing that average waged people can actually afford? Private practice is not interested in building affordable housing. So unless they build so much that demand is satisfied prices will remain high.

    On the other hand, the state can not rightly guarantee housing as a right. This would just give succour to the entitlement class ( we know who they are).

    I favour regulation and focused planning. Extensive apartment building as seen on the continent. Strong solid 2 bed apts built 15 floors high. Shops on the bottom floor. A communal green space out front. Think soviet without the greyness. Sell them to owner occupiers only, couples earning 70k between them. Leave the “where’s me free house” brigade on the hap scheme until the middle class are housed and supply is better.

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      “Why can’t FG admit that the private sector cannot possibly provide housing that average waged people can actually afford?”

      1. They’re idealogues
      2. They’re right wingers and right wing views often come from an inflated sense of self importance and/or fragile egos. People with an inflated sense of self importance and/or a fragile ego will never admit to themselves, never mind the peasants, that they’re wrong about something.
      3. They’re boo boos.

  10. Mourning Ireland

    Brophy’s thick-tongued “out-of-the-side-of-his-mouth” mumbling is an embarrassment to all evolved primates

  11. anne

    Why do idiots think they dismiss any argument or facts they don’t like as conspiracies?

    Practically no social housing is being built.. that’s a fupping conspiracy all right.

  12. Junkface

    All Fine Gael spokesmen are gas bags. Total liars, they resent that people are using ‘facts’ to prove their incompetence on housing, health, and everything else. I think Rory Hearne is completely right.

  13. andy moore

    No:2 is best option . We have a Bank , we have an Office of Public Works & we have Land ! There is absolutely no reason why the State shouldn;’t start developing new communities on a pay as you go basis whether via Mortgage or rental ? & obviously the previous mistakes of the 70’s can & shall not be replicated ! Build it & we’ll come & maintain it !!

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