“I Can’t Answer”


From top: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Sinn Fein TD Eoin O’Broin, a Twitter clip from Mr Varadkar posted on Monday which was referred to during Leaders’ Questions today

This afternoon.

During Leaders’ Questions.

Sinn Féin TD Eoin O’Broin addressed Taoiseach Leo Varadkar about the affordability, or non-affordability, of housing in Ireland.

He told how there are many people who earn too much for social housing but cannot afford to rent or buy a decent home.

Among his examples, Mr O’Broin mentioned couples who earn a combined €50,000 or a single working person who earns €35,000 a year.

He said average rents cost between €14,000 and €23,000 per year, while average house prices across Ireland cost around €250,000 and, in Dublin, in the region of €400,000.

Specifically, he asked:

Can you tell us what the Government’s definition of affordable housing is? And can you tell us the exact number of genuinely affordable housing units that will be delivered by your government next year?

Mr Varadkar:

I can’t give you a numerical definition of affordable housing. Obviously that depends on, on the individual but I certainly would think that somebody who earns the average income in the State should be able to, to be able to get a mortgage and should be able to purchase a home with that.

“And, obviously, without giving you a numerical definition, I can’t answer the second part of your question.”


“I’m encouraged by the fact that planning permissions are up, that construction is up. I was in my constituency on Monday with Minister Murphy visiting the Hansfield area where over 1,000 houses are under construction – 150 of which are public housing, social housing and about 800-900 are family housing and affordable housing.

“And in my constituency, in that part of my constituency, there are houses that are available for €320,000 and apartments that are available for €220,000. People who are able to secure a 35-year mortgage paying €880 a month which is considerably less than rent for people in lots of parts of the city. So I think we are making real progress in that regard.”

As part of his response, Mr O’Broin said:

I was hoping you’d mention Hamstead in Fingal. I watched the Twitter clip (above) of you yesterday of you in the hard hat and initially, of course,  I thought it was a Callan’s Kicks satire because there you were stood beside houses and the sale price of those houses that you were stood in front of, Taoiseach, was €315,000 to €395,000.

“So you’d need a combined household income of between €81,000 and €101,000. You’d need a deposit of €31,000 to €39,000.

“Now you ask me where do I get my definition of affordable housing. Well, actually, it’s from legislation, from existing affordable housing schemes introduced in this State.

“It’s above the threshold for social housing and it’s approximately a household average of €75,000.

“So it is absolutely remarkable that we have a Taoiseach that doesn’t even know what the legislative definition of affordable housing is, let alone have one for his own Government, and cannot tell us how many affordable units will be delivered from the €1.1billion of subsidies he’s giving to private developers.”

Mr Varadkar and Mr O’Broin then had the following exchange:

Varadkar: “You are, of course, misinformed, because the houses that were behind me are not for sale. They’re social housing.”

O’Broin: “The houses on the left…for sale. They were right behind you.”

Varadkar: “I think this is getting to the point of triviality but for anyone who’s interested in the facts, there are about 1,000 homes under construction there. It includes social housing which is not for sale. It includes apartments which are specially adapted for people with disabilities. It includes private housing.”

Mr Varadkar went on to claim Sinn Fein, specifically on Dublin City Council, only want “segregation” and social housing-only areas as opposed to mixed areas with different types of housing.

Mr O’Broin said this wasn’t true.

Mr Varadkar went on to say:

“The reason why Sinn Fein wants that is because they want segregation, they want to divide people so they can brew up discontent.”





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67 thoughts on ““I Can’t Answer”

  1. The Ghost of Starina

    By bullsh1tting his way through, Varadkar shows that he views this concern as an irritation.

    Ours is the first generation to be sharing rented accomodation well into our 30s.

      1. The Ghost of Starina

        in each moment the universe collapses and reexpands, so history began right now, brother.

    1. Martco

      classy nod by O’Broin to Callans Kicks but watch this story get buried asap

      Varadwankar: “quick spinnies…what have we got lined up? Any good deaths or earthquakes today?…”

      somehow there’s another waster at the control panel

  2. papa p

    “People who are able to secure a 35-year mortgage ”

    Are 35 year mortgages the norm now Leo?

    1. realPolithicks

      Sure why not just take out a 100 year mortgage, you’d end up paying next to nothing…thanks Leo.

      1. Cian

        100 year is quite normal in some countries.

        Sweden cuts maximum mortgage term to 105 years (the average is 140)

  3. Andrew

    O Broín getting to the heart of the matter in fairness.
    What are Sinn Fein’s policies on housing? Genuine question. I don’t really know.
    Would they embark on large scale public housing building? Would they increase property tax, especially for those who speculate on property or have more than one home?

    1. Rob_G

      Sinn Féin are the largest party, and have the controlling vote, on DCC’s housing committee.

      They recently voted to reduce the LPT by the maximum allowable amount (money which could have been used to pay for HAP, build council houses, or fund homeless services).

      So, they are great at criticising the government on their housing policy, but their biggest contribution to the housing crisis to date has been to reduce the amount of money available for DCC to provide housing.

  4. Col

    I think he’s caught him out here.
    The response “in that part of my constituency, there are houses that are available for €320,000 and apartments that are available for €220,000”
    Is it a bit like saying- can’t afford to buy a place for your family to live on your decent salary? Move to the Meath border and buy an apartment, problem solved!!
    Anyway, cost of housing in Dublin is up 87% since the bottom of the market.

    1. Pete Tong

      Yeah problem is solved if you move to the Meath border. If you can’t afford something you’re not necessarily entitled to it.

      1. Col

        I meant an apartment is unlikely to be suitable for a family, and someone on a DECENT salary should be able to find affordable housing where they work.
        I didn’t mention entitlement, but feel free to throw a snowflake or iPad related comment at me too if you want.

      2. George

        You can see from the tweet above that someone on the average salary can’t afford those prices. Even with the cheaper price quoted a deposit of 88,750 would be needed. Most people earn considerably less than the average wage.

  5. eoghan

    Leo just got set up and knocked down :)

    It’s a bit embarrassing for the Taoiseach to appear so completely unaware of the reality of people’s lives.

    Not good enough Leo, time to pull your socks up!

    1. Brother Barnabas

      But he keeps getting re-elected and promoted, so why would he do anything different now?

  6. Jockey

    It’s the middle of a crisis. No houses being built will be ‘affordable’. You don’t build affordable houses in a crisis, it’s impossible. You build houses, and more houses, and eventually they become affordable when the supply/demand balances.

    1. diddy

      Except it doesn’t. House completion exceeded the whole of England combined in 2006 and didn’t put a dent in house prices. The equation then was : modest wages + low deposit + loose bank lending = over priced property.

      The equation now is modest wages + high deposit + strict bank lending = over priced property


      As is the case for the majority. High cost renting or living in share houses or with your parents.

      1. Cian

        Why is there a housing crisis? too many people not enough houses.

        Starting from 2002 this is how the population and number of houses changed:
        2002-2006; 375,844 more homes completed. 320,000 more people living here.
        2002-2011; 556,297 more homes completed. 660,000 more people living here.
        2002-2016; 611,700 more homes completed. 840,000 more people living here.

        1. Cian

          same numbers but comparing each 5-year block
          2002-2006; 375,844 more homes. 320,000 more people.
          2007-2011; 180,453 more homes. 340,000 more people.
          2012-2016; 55,403 more homes. 180,000 more people.

          1. Cian

            (a) why you asking me about FG?
            (b) why do you assume FG haven’t addresses this trend?
            (c) the FF solution was to crash the economy so badly that 500,000 people emigrated – not all solutions are good.

      2. Andy

        But that isn’t the case for the majority. That isn’t remotely the case for the majority.

        The majority live in houses they own or have positive equity. They are on manageable mortgages, if they have a mortgage at all.

        All the housing problems are at the extremes and new people looking to buy. This is a tiny part of the population. Like it or not, most people in Ireland are doing just fine and are benefiting from growing house prices.

        Comparing the national average income with the average house price in Dublin is pointless. The average wage is about 35k but the average full-time wage is 45k. The average full time wage in Dublin is higher. So a couple working full time earning the average full time wage are generating 90k in income. 3.5x that is a 315k mortgage which means they can buy a 350k house/apt with a 35k deposit.

        There is no shortage in the vast majority of the country. Most of the country is affordable. Dublin is where there’s a problem.

          1. Andy

            Then you don’t need the average 2 or 3 bedroom house.

            And you’re probably **** out of luck. There’s very few 1 beds in the market.

  7. Andrew

    Stated government aim was to increase the price of houses in this country. They have achieved that. This will satisfy all of those who bought in to the last bubble, all the speculators who bought at the bottom and of course the banks that hold the mortgage books.
    To hell with anyone else is the message, loud and clear.
    Young people can forget about owning a home and will emigrate as they have always done.
    Therefore FF/FG core vote will remain the same.

  8. anne

    Awfully poor from Leo Vladkar, to not have a notion of what affordable housing is defined as. I mean seriously..to answer it with it depends on the person..ffs. This is woeful stuff. This isn’t good enough.

    Has he no interest in the housing crisis that’s going on? He should know the basics at least..evenif he doesn’t care.

    And the digs at Sinn Fein are pathetic. They’re a pack of jokers to listen to. People out there suffering, struggling to keep a roof over their heads or sharing in rented accommodation with strangers, and their only interest is a photo op & getting a few digs in. Pathetic.

  9. LeopoldGloom

    320,000 is not cheap, not in hansfield anyway. And not for the quality of home they’ve been building.

    It’s a badly planned area like most Irish developments. Just thrown up without much thought and then fixed piecemeal after

    1. Increasing_Displacement

      It’s horrible isn’t it
      These high density paper houses out at the edge of the suburbs
      Planning is a joke

      The need to build high in the city has never been clearer

      1. Andy

        Sure build high, at huge cost, and no one can afford it.

        The state makes more money from an apartment than the developer – between development levies & contributions, corporation tax and VAT.

        1. Andy

          Just to clarify.

          I agree there needs to be an increase in high rise apartments in the City & on the Dart/Luas lines (just any high rise apartments would be a start), but due to min standards, compliance, land prices and the governments tax take, the end product is not affordable for most people.

          All the recent apartment developments in the city are priced at 400k plus up to 800k/900k.

          Until the state sorts out the costs and brings them down, average workers won’t afford them. Starting points would be:
          – massive increase in zoned land,
          – massive increase in heights (minimize the rights of objectors)
          – remove need for basement car parking,
          – remove need for dual aspect (i live in single aspect apt and have no problem with it – when the suns out we use the roof deck or go to the park),
          – remove the need for individual balconies if there’s communal open space,
          – change the way their built – sprinklers means there’s no need for internal fire doors,
          – sort out the cost of land (use CPOs to help developers build large parcels for large scale developments), Tax the hell out of land owners,

  10. Joe

    Leo knows the exact cost of affordable housing for ordinary decent tax payers.
    Leo knows how many of his blue tory party are landlords and how many landords are blue tory supporters.
    Leo is ensuring that his blue tory landlords are kept happy.
    Housing crisis? Tax sucking parasites “business” oportunities.

  11. Stephen

    Leo has no problem expediting planning legislating for data centers for multi national corporations, lets have more of those unproductive, energy draining total wastes of spaces on the fringes of our towns and cities eh?

  12. Pete Tong

    Why is Gavan Reilly quoting a price for a 3 bed semi-detached house for a single earner?? A single earner surely wouldn’t be going for a 3 bed semi-d?

    1. Increasing_Displacement

      So no family has one person earning?
      Do you think if you’re one person alone you should only think of the present and not buy a house that caters for a family?

  13. Anomanomanom

    They need to stop all the dodgy stuff that the big multi-property owners do. The actually builder of my apartment block held on to 27 of properties. We only found this out recently, which is fine thats his business. We only found out the following recently. When his company went bum up he stopped paying management fees, on 27 properties that worked out over €35,000 a year not being paid to a joint owned management company, yet he was renting the properties out. He was threatened with court and fought tooth and nail not to pay. He had mortgaged 15 of the properties and was renting all of them to pay the mortgage.

    1. Anomanomanom

      Half I posted by mistake, thought id cancel. There is a lot more I was going to post, but basically they managed to artificial inflate the rental price of the block by some very dodgy dealings. It will be in court soon enough and I’d assume the news.

      1. anne

        I’ve heard of a builder, who is building a block of apartments on the malahide road at the moment. There’s 200 hundred apartments in the development. He’s holding onto the lot of them. Rents are starting at 1600 a month.

        His business is his buiness too, except when it’s ours.

        There’s no such thing as a free market.

        1. Cian

          anne, what is the problem?
          This builder is investing his money to build an additional 200 homes. This increases supply (and if lots more builders start building) then the prices will start to drop.

          If he didn’t there will be 200 fewer homes and prices will remain sky-high.

          1. Anomanomanom

            It never works like that. I’ve heard of companies building apartments in certain areas and set the prices much higher than previous builds. Which is their choice, but they’ve built them to bar minimum standards so as to keep cost cheap, this was only because they built them just to inflate the properties they already own minutes away. The old properties then have the rent put up(which is harder to do now) because rents are rising in the area. The new properties then have the rent bit by bit dropped till they all get filled.

          2. anne

            Greed is good huh Cian? What incentives has he received from the taxpayer to build these? What taxes will he avoid when he starts collecting 1600 a month – starting rent. Sure it’s a roof over peoples’ heads, people paying very dearly to keep that roof over their heads.

            And more than likely it’s not his money, it’s the banks.. & when it all goes t-its up, we know who’ll be bailing him out.

          3. Cian

            anne, you tell me:
            1. What incentives has he received from the taxpayer to build these? [none that I’m aware of]
            2. What taxes will he avoid when he starts collecting rent? [I don’t know – I’m not a fortune teller (or an accountant)]

          4. anne

            Section 23 provides tax relief for the capital expenditure incurred on construction costs. So for example if a property costs €200,000 in total and has qualifying construction costs of 90%, the tax on this €180,000 total can be written off against all of the investor’s other Irish rental income in the first year, with any unused relief being carried forward indefinitely.

            The ‘investor’ /builder can offset the relief of the construction costs against the rents he collects..

            The cost of the property can be offset against rents for income tax purposes and when the property is sold the same cost is allowed again as a deduction for Capital Gains Tax purposes.

            Last budget updates on these-


          5. Cian

            thanks anne for replying.
            That link is seven years old and as far as I can tell Section 23 Relief doesn’t exist any more (for new builds). Although I’m open to correction on this!

            So in 2017/8 – what incentives will your builder receive from the taxpayer?
            What taxes will he avoid when he starts collecting rent?

          6. anne

            What do you think this is questions & answers with John Bowman?

            Cian you well know large scale investors have a myriad of ways to avoid tax.. go pick up a newspaper for yourself.

            Summary of Schemes and Reliefs
            Part 10/Chapter 3 (section 344) & Chapters 7 to 12
            Document last reviewed October 2017

            PDF available on revenue’s site..updated Oct 2017.

            And seeing as we’re questioning what people know.. do you think there are no incentives & reliefs available? How do you think property firms are paying 1000 euro in tax on huge rental incomes?

            I’ve read of them offsetting profits, by the use of subsidiaries charging high interest rates on borrowings.. tell us if you know of the details of the ins and outs of these schemes Cian.

            There’s no doubt someone holding onto 200 dwellings is being incentivised to do so… The plan seems to be to turn Dublin in London..where you’ll have a few high volume landlords, & the ordinary person is screwed trying to keep a roof over their heads.

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