The panel on last night’s Tonight with Vincent Browne
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.
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
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